30 May 2011

Staying Engaged in Mercy Ministries

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[My fellow Scrubs with the Lawndale Staff][Photo Credit: John Choi]

Last week, I met with my Scrubs cohort for the third and last time (officially). This last module dealt with how we face the brokenness within the world.

What I appreciated the most about this particular module was the balance of biblical/theological reflection as well as the opportunity to get out of the classroom and visit different ministries around the city of Chicago who were in the front lines of ministries of mercy. We visited Lawndale Community Church and the Jesus People USA. The common thread between these two ministries was their relational investment in their neighbors over a long period of time. What was fascinating when you put these ministries side by side was that they were so different from each other in the way they approached the ministry of mercy. Nonetheless, they were doing incredible kingdom work in contexts where people would altogether avoid.

It is always tempting when you meet inspiring folks like Wayne Gordon or the Jesus people to feel a wee bit inadequate or discontent with the status quo. But it was good to debrief and remind ourselves that we all have our particular callings and ministry DNA that we need to discover, and serve out of. I’m not called to be someone else, but rather, I’m called to serve out of who I am.  Nonetheless, we as Asian Americans tend to underestimate the ways we can make a difference in our world.

When I got back from Chicago, it was great to have Steve Park step in for me and remind us the call to compassion and justice. My jaw dropped when I realized that Steve was preaching out of the same passage our mentor taught out of in our first session together in Chicago. Reflecting on Steve’s sermon it was a good reminder that we need to intentionally engage the broken world around us especially when poverty and injustices aren’t as obvious or in-your-face as it would be in the inner city. So how do we stay engaged? The module I experienced provides us a good model.

  • It requires good biblical/theological reflection because mercy and justice are themes throughout the Bible. If we take the full counsel of God seriously, then you can’t help but take the call to compassion and justice seriously.
  • But it also requires us to listen to the voices of the community whether it’d personal interactions with our neighbors or keeping up with what is going on locally in our county.
  • But most importantly, it requires us to humbly come before God and listen to his voice and direction. As we listen to the voices and cries of our neighbors, and as we listen to God’s voice, we respond to what the Spirit is leading to do.

As Eugene Cho tweeted a few weeks back, “The reality is we cannot do everything. But a great tragedy is when we choose to do nothing”. It is true that the needs are great. But like the example of Lawndale, Jesus people, and Little Lights, it involved taking small and intentionally steps in investing in our neighbors one person at a time over a long period of time.

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