So, I have been working in the inner city of LA for 8 years now, as a high school teacher. What has brought me here and kept me here for this long is the conviction to serve the under-served in life – that there are unjust things in this world and as far as I am given the grace to do so, it is my duty as a human being to do something about that. It has been quite a journey…it has not been easy. In fact it has been consuming.
Nevertheless, especially this year, I have felt the limits of my work. There are still too many students who are fighting me and cursing me out as I try to help them in the classroom. I have talked with my co-workers about it too. We are pouring out so much of our time and lives, but are we really making a difference…an impact in the inner city? Of course people can say we are doing something (my school has undergone major transformation and has made great gains in test scores) and that the fruit of a teacher’s work is not seen until years later. But we are still so far behind. We are still losing students to the cycle of despair, drugs, violence, and the life of the streets. Our young dads are still making children and leaving them unfathered. Our young students are still getting in trouble with the law. Our students’ families are still experiencing such brokenness and instabilty. I feel like we’re just putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Our young students need so much more. I want to do more. Yet, I still live in a different community and I still go to church in yet another community. About two years ago I also got married. I want to start a family…which will have its own set of needs.
With all this brewing in my mind and heart I was seeking out something different, I just didn’t know what. Then a friend of ours studying educational leadership laid out a crazy idea: for inner-city schools to be changed, the middle class needs to move back into the inner city (not to gentrify but to share resources). Sounded good…but insane. Would we send our own children to an inner-city school? What is most important? We started sharing this idea to our other friends. It got us thinking.
Before we knew it, we were actually considering it, and praying about it. But we felt alone…and totally unprepared. Around February a friend of ours, who knew we were interested in urban service, invited us out to spot in LA’s Eastside where some one would be sharing about the work that he was a part of in that community.
We went. We saw. We heard. There was a team of people living, working, and serving…all in the same neighborhood. People in the community were being empowered and stepping up to make a difference…in ways that were not someone else’s agenda but were their very own convictions. Everything we were talking about was coming together right in front of us.
Now several months later, we have already found a new place to live in this community, we have let our church know that we are moving to a different church in this community, I have already put in my notice that I will not be returning next year to my school, and must now look for a new job near this community.
Here’s where we’re headed and why:
WHAT: I will begin a two-year unpaid internship which will basically be like a 2 year mission trip where my wife and I will have jobs in the community. The internship starts with a 3 week trip to an urban slum in the Philippines.
WHO: Servant Partners – a mission ministry with a focus on the urban poor of the world
WHERE: Lincoln Heights, in LA’s Eastside
– near where the 10 and 5 freeways meet, right behind the LA County / USC hospital
– it is among the lowest in median household incomes in LA city and county ($31,000)
– it is among the lowest in % of residents with a 4 yr degree in LA city and county (6%)
1) we will be living in Lincoln Heights, with a team of at least 3 other interns
2) we will be attending a church in Lincoln Heights (a church plant of Servant Partners and Epicentre Pasadena called Epicentre Community Church *New Life Community Church as of fall of 2014)
3) we will be working in LA’s Eastside (my wife will continue to work at Cal State LA as a professor / I need to find a job, one with a little less hours <would appreciate prayers, in this regard especially>, as I will also be taking classes twice a week to learn about urban poor ministry)
WHEN: Starting August 19th, 2011 (Philippines from 8/24-9/12) to Summer 2013
WHY (for the 2 years): We are hoping through this process, amongst many things, to
a) see if urban poor ministry is something for us
b) see if full time ministry is something for me
WHY (what God has been laying on our hearts through His Word):
1) Christ has led us to love the city: Loving Los Angeles (Jer 29:4-7)
2) Christ has led us to care for those in need: Social Justice (Isaiah 58, James 2:5-8)
3) Christ has led us to share our lives: Incarnation for understanding and discipleship (Heb 13:11-14)
HOW WE CAN PARTNER TOGETHER:
– my wife and I need to raise about $5600 (for the 3 week mission trip to the Philippines for my wife and I, as well as for my ministry education for the next 2 years)
if you’re led to give financially please make checks payable to “Servant Partners” with “Intern: Kitani” written in the memo line and send the check to: Servant Partners P.O. Box 3144, Pomona, CA 91769
– We need your prayers!! Also let us know how to pray for you!!
– Let’s keep in touch (updates, encouragements, and prayer requests)!
Email: dkitani at gmail dot com
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