Tag Archives: community

it’s time to reconcile

my fellow youth leaders have been working through conflict.   there were structures in place for us to meet together periodically but somewhere along the way we had neglected our relationship with one another.  soon enough we were just checking in to work…the quality of our work suffered as we recognized we were just going through the motions and slowly became frustrated with one another…but we weren’t talking about it.

then it got real.  we got real.  last month’s planning meeting came to an impasse.  some of us were hurt.  some of us were angry.  some of us felt tempted to check out.  all of us knew we were stuck.

it was time to reconcile.

to pretend nothing is wrong when people are hurting is dysfunctional.  i am learning, even coming from an ethnic background that is notorious for talking around matters, it serves no one to say things are okay when they are not.  we sought God to process what was happening.  the elder caring for us youth leaders facilitated a time for us to meet together and work things out.  we first went around one by one and owned up to where we had broken trust with others by our actions or inactions.  then we brought up issues with others in the group that hurt us.

reconciliation takes time.  it took another session of us together, that got pretty raw, to get more to the bottom of what sort of things were still bothering us.   but to neglect reconciliation is worse.   we are seeing the inner city youth we are leading, that haven’t had the best modeling of working things out, hurting one another and pulling one another down in destructive ways.  God thinks reconciliation is so important He came to us in the form of a man and laid down His life so that it could happen.  reconciliation is going to take us investing time into one another to build trust again.  it is tough…but it is good.  we are starting to move forward with one another again…and we are better as one.

some of the youth and leaders playing a video game together.
some of the youth and leaders playing a video game together.

mentoring anew

Through working with the youth at Epicentre community church, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring two young men, Sergio and Aaron.

I met Sergio on his first visit to youth meeting after his football practice.  He was a big gentle giant of a freshman who was very quiet.  Through the love of the church community he has really opened up and he is such an earnest learner, so tender and open to the Lord’s voice in His life.

Sergio and I at church

Aaron is a quiet punk rocker with a generous heart and is diligent with his passions.  He came to church through his recently saved parents and he too has transformed so much.

Aaron rocking out

I started meeting up with them early in the morning to teach them how to have face time with the Lord…and they have responded to the challenge so well.  They’ve been excited to learn how to meet with the Lord.  After coming up against so many walls in my disciple-making experiences, I see God’s gracious redemptive work as I am reaping the benefit of witnessing the growth of these young men, for whom I did no sowing work.   Sergio is so willing to obey what God speaks to him, even standing up in class for his faith.  Aaron is so enthused that he shares what he learns with others, even spurring on his own parents.  We pray together and witness answers to prayer together.

Although full time ministry with the church is not yet, God has opened a door for me to work part-time with, IntheCity, the non-profit liason between the church, the school, and the larger community.  IntheCity currently focuses on reaching out to the youth through sports teams at the local high school, integrating team-building, academic assistance, and parent outreach.  It’s through these opportunities that relationships have been built with young people like Sergio and Aaron, growing them closer to our Heavenly Father.

Please join me in praying that they grow into spiritual leaders in their community and where ever the Lord takes them!  I’m so excited for what God is doing here in Lincoln Heights and beyond!!  If you are interested in supporting me and the work happening in East Los Angeles, leave me a message and I will get in contact with you!!!

2011 Reflections and 2012 Directions

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.

prayer requests:
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!