2011 was a year of many transitions: work, church, home, community, family, and calling. I resigned from my post as a teacher at Locke High School in South LA, a post that I’ve been in for 8 years, to currently substitute teaching. We were commissioned out from West Los Angeles Holiness, a church that I attended since my freshman year of college nearly 14 years ago, to Epicentre Community Church in Lincoln Heights. We moved from our honeymoon apt. in Monterey Park, which we lived in since Ji and I were married 2 and half years ago, to a rented home in Lincoln Heights. We’re recalibrating from our familiar networks of support to a new network of support in the Servant Partners Intern Team and the Epicentre church family. We’re getting ready to receive a new addition to our KitanJi family and grow into our new role as parents. Last but not least, I sense the Lord leading me from lay ministry to full time ministry.
treevalleys on a mission in Lincoln Heights
Gustavo and I getting the room ready for little Amos
These past several months of starting into the internship can be summarized into three phrases: bewildering displacement, actual obedience, and providential provision.
bewildering displacement: There were a number of things that were clear in making this big move into the city…but there were many things that weren’t. I knew that God wanted us to make this integrated move into Lincoln Heights and enough of God’s values for loving the city to do it. However there were many unknowns that we would and still have to navigate now that we’re here: How do we reach out to our neighbors? What is our role in the church here as people from the outside? How do I connect with my intern team – half of which live in another city and all of which are many years younger than me and from unfamiliar backgrounds to me? What is the work that God wants me to do and the career he wants me to be in? How will we raise a child in all of this uncertainty? That last question is the scariest of all to me right now. Yet, through all the unanswered questions, periods of unemployment, and my sinful escapism…God is still faithful and still challenges me with His heart. This points to the next theme of this past quarter…
xmas presentation at the community church
actual obedience: A major part of our first quarter in the internship has been an inductive study of the book of Luke. It has been rocking my world. We’re trying to study what Jesus was actually saying, how he actually ministered, how he actually lived, and how his priorities actually played out. Jesus actually really loves the poor and broken…the marginalized. How did I miss this in all my years as a “Christian” (follower of Christ)? I have been unable to shake Luke ch. 6 (Jesus’ sermon on the plain expressing His values) and ch. 9 (Jesus’ identity revealed to the disciples and what it would cost to follow Him) from my life. Specifically, the following verses have been really cutting and challenging to me:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” – Luke 6:32
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” – Luke 9:23
Will I actually obey? I hope to, with God’s encouragement and power…which leads to the last theme…
some of the church family in Lincoln Heights
providential provision: God has given Ji and I so much assurance in making these moves, despite our shortcomings. He has provided us with an amazing find of a home for ministry, He has provided us a great team with godly priorities to work with, He has provided us with a wonderful church family to embrace us (and thoughtful timing to the coming of our son), and He has provided so much of his wonderful promises for us to hold onto. His commitment to care for the “nobodies” and to shepherd His people through His Body, a Body that He will never leave or forsake, gives us courage into the new year.
1. that Ji and I will fight for and guard our times with the Lord for the empowering we need to follow Him, especially as we get ready to receive Amos into the world
2. that I will receive wisdom, direction, and confirmation from the Lord concerning full time ministry to the marginalized
3. that God will provide me a meaningful part time job until, God willing, I raise full time support
4. that Amos will grow well and strong in the fear and love of the Lord
5. that the church family of Lincoln Heights would step up to the challenges facing the community on their knees and with the rest of their bodies!