Tag Archives: poverty

why was Jesus born into SUCH difficult circumstances (or when we’ve become too used to the Christmas story)?

i grew up in the church and have heard the Christmas story countless times.  i’ve seen plays and movies of it, heard retellings of it, read it, studied it, meditated on it.  as with many things we’re repeatedly exposed to, Jesus of the Christmas story can easily become someone we can feel familiar with and touch over without him getting to our heart.  on top of this, with the commercialization of Christmas there has been a sanitizing of the circumstances of Jesus’ birth that can be easy to miss.

given that, as the gospel accounts make clear, Jesus was the God of the universe in human flesh, here are just some of the elements in the accounts of the arrival of Jesus into our world that seem peculiar at best and, at times, downright troubling:

1. the era of his birth – Jesus is estimated to have been born around 6 to 4 AD.

why was he born in such a “backwards” time?  why not when there would be better medical innovation and technology for health care and life expectancy?  why not when there would be the internet to make wider announcement of his arrival?  why not a time when Israel was in a better place politically, not under roman control and occupation?

2. the mother he was born to – Jesus was born to a poor dark-skinned palestinian-jewish teenage girl.

why wasn’t Jesus born to a mom with more experience, education, credentials, and financial/social status?

3. the father that would raise him: Jesus’ earthly father was not his biological father and was a poor worker in construction.

especially, if men at this time were the main financial breadwinners of the home, why was Jesus born into such a poor family? why into a home where the family business was manual labor (maybe in our modern times carpenters make more money but we know the family was most likely poor because when these young parents take Jesus to the temple all they could offer were pigeons for sacrifice, an offering reserved for those who were too poor to offer a lamb. we also know that by the time of Jesus’ death his father has most likely already passed away as the care of his mother mary was given to the apostle john.  if this was the case, that means joseph had probably already passed by the age of 50…this was not an easy life.).

4. the timing of his birth: Jesus was conceived by Mary BEFORE she was married to the person she was engaged to…and impregnated by a different Father.

yes, the virgin birth was what was supposed to happen according to the prophecy but why couldn’t God have sent an angel to Joseph to explain the circumstance while they were getting married and Jesus have been conceived AFTER they were married? at the very least, if the timing of the virgin birth were pushed back a little later this could have saved all of them them A LOT of shame of such scandalous talk and rumors, especially in such traditional times and a deeply religious culture.  what would it have been like for mary whose child’s origins were continually second-guessed and her explanation sounded incredulous and awfully self-congratulating?  what would it have been like for joseph to see his firstborn son and raise him knowing that he wasn’t the true father?  what would it have been like for Jesus to grow up being ridiculed as a bastard child?

5. the place he was born – he was born in a food trough in a stable that was most likely a cave.

why was Jesus, literally, born in such a disgusting place?  ok, so his parents couldn’t afford better accommodations on their trip to Bethlehem, but seriously, why wasn’t the savior of the world born where humans lived instead of being born where animals lived?

6. the announcement of his birth to shepherds – shepherds worked with animals so they were unclean and unable to participate in the religious activities of the temple.

out of the all the groups of people the “heavenly host” of angels could have arrived to why did they arrive to uncouth, stinky, and solitary shepherds?  why make a religious announcement to religiously unclean folks?  unclean folks who worked with animals and not just any animals but probably some of the stupidest and most easily frightened animals?

the circumstance of his most critical early years – king herod, in his paranoia of rumors of another king being born, ordered the massacre of all jewish babies to the age of two, forcing Jesus family to flee to egypt then back to nazareth after the king had died.

why was Jesus born during the reign of such a notoriously jealous and violent king?  couldn’t Jesus birth been delayed until king herod died?  why were he and his parents forced to become refugees to another country?  then move back into a no good ghetto like nazareth to be raised?  why all this transition in the most critical years of a child’s development?

 

why was Jesus born into such difficult life circumstances?  certainly not circumstances befitting any king of this world.  i have some thoughts and potential answers to these questions for which there isn’t enough time.  however, at least one things has become clear to me – Jesus is not afraid to identify with and live in our suffering.  the God of the universe came into our most scandalous, disgusting, and unpresentable places.  he chose to be raised and be identified with the most marginalized of people.  when we are broken by the suffering in our world and in our very lives, let the nature of his arrival be a light of hope to us.  could it be that the manner of his arrival was this intentional in order to know our suffering?

this is our Jesus.  this is our God who is with us.

jesus-poverty

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wealth: the other gospel

what a child wrote in response to the question "what is your wish for 2016" (found on a wish board at the kidspace museum in pasadena on new years eve day)
what a child wrote in response to the question “what is your wish for 2016” (found on a wish board at the kidspace museum in pasadena on new years eve day 2015)

 

i’ve been reading a book called the great chasm by derek engdahl and it has been hammering me with convictions that have kept me thinking.  on this the first day of the new year i believe it is a significant direction I want to continue to walk in.

the contents of this book, as i’ve told many people, captures what it has taken me nearly 12 years to learn (and counting).   it is a rare book (unfortunately) that brings together thorough biblical exposition with balanced real world application, especially to something so largely ignored from the pulpit.  i couldn’t commend it more wholeheartedly.

the book speaks of God’s heart for the most vulnerable in our society and the danger that wealth poses to disconnect us from the marginalized and His heart.

as a person that considers myself middle class, but actually in the top 4% of the world in terms of wealth (80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day), this is an uncomfortable topic.  yet, i must face it for that very reason. i’ve learned that having wealth, power, and/or status of any kind can blind you to it’s dangers.  i never considered myself wealthy until i got to know and have befriended people who are not wealthy (by wealth i mean having more than i need in terms of food, clothing, shelter).  those who “have” are not always aware that they have and are often not mindful of the “have nots.”  those that “have not” are keenly aware of their lack and of the others who “have.”

there is so much in the book that has struck me but i’d like to share one idea (from the fourth chapter) that still won’t let me go: wealth preaches a gospel contrary to Jesus.

engdahl reminds us that wealth (or “mammon”) is not neutral, but is personified by Jesus as setting itself up in opposition to God, hence in matthew 6:24 He says “you cannot serve God and money.”   The pursuit of wealth runs contrary to the gospel of grace.  gospel means good news. wealth promises to give us the “good news” of (earthly) life and security. Jesus promises to give us the “good news” of (eternal) life and security.  so who do we trust more in daily life?  the true gospel reveals itself in how it is obtained.  engdahl writes “At it’s core, Mammon, represents a meritorious worldview. It is opposed to grace because it is fundamentally about what can be earned and purchased.”  if my life and security is based upon what i can accomplish and earn that is not much security for me (worldly resources are limited and i fail).  if my life and security is based upon what God himself has accomplished and purchased that gives me a peace that can overflow (He is the limitless source of all life and He is able to keep His promises).

if we cannot serve both God and wealth can’t we at least have both, as long as I don’t “serve” wealth?

here, engdahl holds us again to the words of Christ by taking us back a couple more verses in that same section of matthew (v.19-21) and reflecting on it: “We deceive ourselves into believing we can have wealth as long as we do not put our trust in it. This is a great lie. What Jesus says is that if you have wealth you WILL put your trust in it: you will be enticed to serve it. You can store up treasure in heaven or on earth, and wherever that treasure is, THAT is where your heart will be.”

now, don’t get me wrong, no one is saying here that making wealth is a problem. it is what one does with it that reveals who serves whom. it is the keeping of wealth (putting our trust in it for security) rather than the giving of it (putting our trust in God for provision for us to bless others) that is an issue.

paraphrasing rankin wilborne, out of all the rivals that Jesus could have used to set up against God, He uses wealth. it is deadly precisely because we don’t think any of us have a problem with it.

let us choose this day (this year) whom we will serve.

to my dear asian american brothers and sisters (an open letter)

i am writing to you as a fellow asian american.  i am writing to you as a fellow believer in Jesus through whom i also believe we share a special bond and understanding.  

i’ve been meaning to write this letter for some time.  i know it is not common in our custom to address issues head on but i am compelled by the model of our prophets and our master, Jesus, to call things out in our community, in us, in me before we find it is too late.  i believe we as a people have developed a blind spot in our faith: we are ignoring Jesus in ignoring the least of these.  

yes, i know i am speaking in generalizations.  there are certainly exceptions.  there are those fellow asian american brothers and sisters who are suffering in poverty and isolation as perpetual foreigners in america.  there are those of our asian american brothers and sisters who are laying down their lives to love the least, the last, the lost.  however, please, let us not be so quick to make ourselves (myself included) the exception.  let us take the time to fully consider the ramifications that we as a race in america are the most educated and most wealthy of all.  and from the ones much has been given much will be required.

why, am i saying that we are ignoring Jesus? i’ve pretty much grown up in the asian american church and have been cared for so well by my family in Christ.  however, in the past four years through my study of scripture, I have become convinced, that loving those in need is ESSENTIAL to being a follower of Jesus and is a fruit of true salvation.  by those in need i don’t simply mean those within our family, friends, and race (who even non-believers know to love) who may periodically be in such a place but rather those beyond our family, friends, and race (the people we don’t consider our “neighbors”) who may persistently be in such a place.  sadly, this kind of love has not been the tenor of what i was taught from the pulpit or modeled in the lives of my asian american brothers and sisters in the fellowships that i’ve been a part of.  

what does loving those in need, those that are different from us, have to do with ignoring Jesus? there is a terrifying passage found in matthew 25:31-46 that captures much of what i am addressing.  Jesus says that we will be in for a rude awakening when we see Him on that day to discover that in ignoring the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner we have ignored Jesus.  He says “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”  so closely does Jesus identify with the least in society that to disregard them is tantamount to insulting Jesus himself.  

we, as asian americans, work so hard to not find ourselves in such situations of need (which is a great thing) that we get as far away as we can from those who still find themselves in such situations of need (which is NOT the mission of Jesus).  i believe we as asian american believers have been so careful not to commit sins of commission (doing bad) that we have fallen into the sins of omission (neglecting good).  Unfortunately, the consequence for such neglect is not just a slap in the face to Jesus, it is eternal damnation!  again, i must clarify that i don’t believe Jesus is saying we must do good works to be saved but rather that we are saved to do good works.  good works is not the root of our salvation but it is the fruit of our salvation.  if we claim to know Jesus, we must know the heart of Jesus.  

i am saying this just as much to myself as i share this with you.  

i am grieved.  

yet, i am hopeful.  i am amazed by the way our people care for our own families.  the sacrifices our parents make to see we are provided for.  i am a recipient of such love and hope to love my children in such a manner. I believe God has put that into our culture.  

but what if we obeyed Jesus and loved our neighbors in need like our own families?  what if we loved our neighbor’s children as we did our own?

then the kingdom of God has come upon us.  

let us not ignore the cries of the least of these.  let us not ignore Jesus.

to my dear 24-year-old david (from 36-year-old david),

i know you’re in the midst of the hardest year of your life thus far.  it’s your first year of teaching…in the hood of south los angeles.  you probably don’t have much time to spare, so let’s just get right down to it.  

none of your friends or family, well meaning as they are, understand what you’re experiencing right now.  i do. because i’m you 12 years later.  your world is being turned upside down.  you’ve come from a quiet asian american middle class life.  and let’s be honest, nothing has really prepared you for this.  you are experiencing the brokenness of what poverty does to young hearts and minds on a daily basis; poverty that you didn’t even acknowledge existed right in your backyard.  you can’t escape it because it’s your job to face it and try to teach in the midst of it every day.  you are being smacked in the face with the reality that public education in the u.s. is neither equal nor fair…and most of society has turned it’s back on this corner of l.a. because it’s easier to ignore than to deal with.  you’ve never seen this sort of institutionalized dysfunction.  you’ve never experienced so much hate thrown at you.  you’ve never had to work to the point of exhaustion…not just physically but emotionally.

press in.

don’t escape.  i know it’s hard.  i know it’s hell.  but don’t give up.  these very years will be what builds in you a character of perseverance.  these very youth will be the ones that break your heart in the best kind of way to get you to really consider what matters to the heart of God.  but most of all these very experiences will be what opens your eyes to the fact that you desperately need God every day.    

press in.

yes, some of these students will ignore you, some of them will curse at you, some of them will even push you. consider that it’s not so much that they hate you personally but that they will project upon you all the pain and confusion they have experienced at the hands of adults that were supposed to care for them.  if you are going to follow your role model, Jesus, remember He loved those that didn’t love Him back well…and remember that is you, that is us.  

press in.

yes, i know you’re lonely and REALLY wish you had a girlfriend.  but think about it, is that really going to solve your problems?  if anything you’re either gonna escape HARD into this girl or you’re gonna treat her like crap because you’ve got nothing left to give or both.  no woman, no matter how awesome, is going to be in the classroom with you and give you what you need to stand in love and power in the midst of this.  only an infinite God can do that.  yes, a girlfriend’s nice (and yes she will come to you and you’ll marry her and she’ll be pretty rad) but now is not the time…there’s some inner growth in your relationship with Jesus that needs to happen before that or else you’re gonna wreck two people in the process.  and Lord knows we don’t need any more brokenness.

press in.

the work you’re doing now will prepare you for the work i’m doing now (aka the work you will be doing in the future).  this work you’re in now is going to lay the groundwork for and open doors that you’ve never even considered of God’s vision for justice; it will help you see the Word of God in a whole new light…even if i tried to explain it to you now i don’t think you’d understand or appreciate it without what you’re going to experience in the next couple of years.  with that said, i think there are a couple of things you could understand at this time.  

1) david, if you’re serious about disciple-making and leadership development you can’t do it remotely.  at least not effectively. Jesus spent TIME with his disciples and you can’t expect to walk with those you are leading if you don’t even live in the same neighborhood with them.  and that’s how leaders are developed…not just through teaching…it’s through living.  

2) lastly, you need a mentor if you’re going to mentor.  not just a mentor that reflects your experience.  have some humility to recognize you don’t know it all and you can’t do it by yourself.  you need a mentor who has experience loving and walking amongst the least of these, because that’s where you will find Jesus (Matthew 25:40).  sadly, there aren’t that many asian american men that are doing this work, so it’s not like you have a lot of choice…you’re gonna have to be mentored cross-race.  it’ll be awkward at first but don’t let your pride get in the way of your growth to learn from someone different than you.          

press in.  because Jesus did for you.  

questions to consider before one dismisses the urban poor

my heart is grieved with the division i see within the nation (acutely highlighted with the events of this past week), within my cultural circle, and even within myself. in the midst of the chaos i have been reminded to take a step back and not so much seek to be understood (important as that is) but to understand (and Lord knows there needs to be more of that) if there is to be any progress.

i grew up middle class (and if i consider the context of global poverty, probably upper class).   somehow from there i found myself teaching at an inner city high school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in LA for eight years. for the past three years now my family and i have chosen to live in a urban poor neighborhood. through walking a little with the urban poor i have learned some things in terms of understanding my neighbor that i hope will be helpful in your journey.

let me first start by making clear this is not a post to justify any kind of violence. if you want to read about a response to that there are those who have articulated the temptation of that sentiment much better than I could.

now then, i believe that all people have equal value. but I also recognize that not all have been afforded equal resources. it may be tempting to think achievement in life and generosity of spirit is simply gained if you work hard enough. hard work is great. with hard work amazing things can be accomplished. but not all have the equal amount of hard work they must endure. and not all hard work produces equal results. please consider some of these questions with me before you are tempted to dismiss the experience of the urban poor…

BACKGROUND

– did you get to choose the neighborhood that you grew up in?

– did you grow up in a setting where people having a college degree was a minority?

– have you witnessed or experienced someone close to you being killed?

– have you or a family member been pulled over/aside by law enforcement even though you had committed no crime?

– did you grow up in a culture that has a heritage of being conquered/oppressed

– are you a part of cultural group that to this day does not enjoy the privileges that most other citizens of your country do?

PARENTING

– did you grow up in a single parent household?

– did your parent(s) grow up in a single parent household?

– were you raised by someone who was not your parent?

– do you know your father and/or do you have a relationship with your father currently?

– did you grow up in a home where at least one parent was laid off or unemployed for an extended period of time?

– did your parents work minimum wage jobs and have difficulty providing for your physical needs?

– did your parent/s complete high school? college?

– were your parents able to help you with your homework?

– were your parents home when you were home?

– did you grow up having different people coming in and out of your house?

– were you emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abused as a child?

– did you have a parent addicted to some chemical substance?

– did you ever have to buy food with food stamps or experience not being able to eat for extended periods of time?

EDUCATION

– did you have to be careful not to be robbed by people or accosted by gang members to and from school?

– did you miss school because your parent needed help with translation or needed you to take care of younger siblings?

– did you have to take care of younger siblings when you came home from school?

– did you have classes in which there were not enough seats or books for students?

– did you go to a school where having a teacher new to teaching was a common occurrence?

– did you have classes in which students being kicked out of class for disruptive behavior was a common occurrence?

– did you have classes in which teachers quit or left inexplicably before the school year was over?

– did you grow up in a school setting in which achieving academically was interpreted as trying to act like another race?

– did you often have teachers who would just show videos for the duration of the class?

– did you have classes where the assignments were frequently to copy things out of a book?

– did you meet with an adult in your high school for academic counseling only once or less?

– were you asked to shoulder the financial needs of your family once you passed the age of 18?

– did you have to work while going to community/college in order to make ends meet?

if you answered no to most of these questions consider that you may have had an upbringing of privilege or at least an upbringing that was more conducive to having a variety of options in life.  maybe we are where we are not simply through our own hard work but through the hard work of others/another we have not fully acknowledged.   maybe because we have been recipients of generosity we can afford to be more generous.

if you answered yes to most of these questions consider that you may have something within you greater than you think to have survived what you have. maybe you have more to offer than you might currently believe. maybe i can learn something from you.

“this is your brain. this is your brain in poverty.”: what bed bugs have taught me about scarcity

bed bugs

i wouldn’t wish bed bugs on anyone. this summer our home had a bed bug infestation. before that i only vaguely knew of them as a little warning to sleep tight and not let them bite. yes, there are a lot of pests that bite, and although they eat our blood, they are not that painful as far as bites go. what makes bed bugs so terrible are the psychological toll they can take (they hide in the very places where you go to rest, often transferred undetected) and that they take so much work to get rid (often making one feel plagued for life).

after packing up most of our belongings in bags, paying an exterminator, weeks of intensive spraying, cleaning, drying it was so disheartening to see a new bite appear. honestly, it’s been hard to trust that God will not let any “plague come near [our] tent” (Ps 91:10) when evidence of them seems to pop up just when we think its finally safe. i’ve been asking God what he’s teaching us through all of this.

there may be many lessons still to uncover but at least one that has become clear to me is that our family has gotten a very small taste of what’s it’s like to have to operate under the stress of scarcity. please understand, i in no way mean to put poverty and bed bugs in the same category and for this reason i say our experience was only a taste. i could not imagine if i had to eat (or more aptly experience the hunger of) the reality of scarcity every day. in our case, the scarcity was more in time and emotional energy. studies have shown that when there is scarcity of money, time, and/or “bandwidth” (how much mental space you have to work with when not pressed for money or time) it actually changes the way you think. a test done on sugarcane farmers found that compared to a post-harvest test (when they are the richest), pre-harvest (when they are the poorest) these SAME farmers performed 13 points worse on an I.Q. test…that is the equivalent brain power difference when one has lost a full night’s sleep.   a similar test measuring cognitive capacity, in a situation of scarcity verses plenty, was done in a mall in new jersey and found similar results. in short ANYONE, who is placed in a mental state of scarcity will have significant issues in performance. during the weeks when our bed bug situation was at it’s worst, it felt like my wife and i were not ourselves. i couldn’t think straight, i had trouble with the most mundane cognitive functions, i could barely be present in conversations.

now this is only our middle-class experience with bed bugs. my family had to throw away a good number of things, but this assumes the luxury to be able to pay for an exterminator as well as to replace household items. imagine if you had to deal with this pestilence AND poverty? this is what many in our low-income community have had to experience. a family in our church discovered bed bugs in their rented apartment. they told their landlords but their landlords denied it, even with proof of the bugs in bags. for 2 MONTHS they had to just live with the bed bugs spreading with no recourse or resources to pay for an exterminator themselves. bed bugs don’t discriminate between rich or poor, yet there is a big difference in how one is resourced to deal with such a thing if one is rich or poor.   this goes for many things beyond pests.  if indeed every human life has dignity and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, than we have a God-given duty to work toward justice in this broken world.   this experience has given my brain a taste of the experience of my neighbor.

Lord, may we not rest until you are our “dwelling place” (Psalm 91:9).

What I Learned from the Servant Partners Internship

This past month marked two years since my family moved to Lincoln Heights and the end of my internship with Servant Partners.  This month also marks the beginning of my role as a fundraised Full-time Staff with Servant Partners in Lincoln Heights as a Youth Pastor at Epicentre Community Church.

A lot has happened in the past two years…new home, new neighborhood, new church, new friends, a new family member, and new work to name a few.  The internship was an important part of this transition that really helped me to process the changes and some major paradigm shifts that are occurring in my life.  Here are a few of the things I have learned in the past two years with the internship.

1. God REALLY loves the poor.

I sort of knew this casually in my Christian upbringing but at best it was a minor chord…something for some Christians.  Through the in-depth inductive study of the Gospel of Luke in the first year, I began to see that God’s love for the poor was a major aspect of the mission of Jesus and the Kingdom He is bringing upon the earth.  Jesus was born into a poor family (Luke 2:24, Lev. 12:8), He affirmed that his ministry was to proclaim good news to the poor, (Luke 4:18, Isa 61:1) He preached a radical worldview in which the poor are blessed and the rich are distressed (Luke 6:20-26), He taught parables on the surprising destiny of the have and have nots (Luke 12:13-21, 14:15-24, 16:19-31), He challenged His followers constantly to be people who give ridiculously to those in need (Luke 6:30, 9:13, 10:25-37, 12:33, 14:13-14, 18:18-30), and He modeled the giving of everything…even his own life.

It is simply shocking if we actually consider applying what Jesus taught.  If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, loving the poor is not an option; it is a sign of our discipleship.  This sparked an examination of the rest of the scriptures for what God has to say about the poor and sure enough the centrality of God’s love for the marginalized is found in the law, the poetry, the wisdom literature, the prophets, the history of the early church, and even in the epistles of the church fathers.  The gospel is indeed the good news that God became poor so that we would experience the riches of Him.  My world is still being rocked by these revelations and, to be honest, I am still a little disturbed that I grew up in the church and this vein of God’s word had either been largely ignored or explained away.  I am in the process of being redeemed to His heart.

2. A Spirit-filled life is essential for work in the inner city…or any work of witness for that matter.

After eight years of working as a high school teacher in the inner city I was already reaching the limits of my ability.  The testimony of the life of Jesus and the early disciples affirmed what I was already experiencing for myself…any long term or lasting work amongst the needy must involve the Spirit of God.  John the Baptist was filled with the spirit from the womb, Jesus was filled with the Spirit before embarking upon his ministry years, and the apostles could not be his emboldened witnesses without being empowered by the Spirit.   In the second year of the internship we focused our inductive study upon the Book of Acts.  There is no escaping the fact that things happened when His people were filled with the Spirit…and when I say filled with the Spirit I don’t simply mean when someone has accepted the message of Jesus (i.e. all believers) as the testimonies make a distinction between a state of being a believer and that of being a believer filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31, 6:3, 8:11-17, 13:9).

I know that as a believer I have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-10) but I also know that I need to be filled with His Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25, 1 Thes. 5:19) .  There is a difference.   As I minister in the inner city I am coming up against issues and powers so much bigger than what I can handle (poverty, prostitution, addiction, disease, joblessness, gangs, violence, learning disabilities, academic failure, broken families, systemic injustice).  I need, we need, a power greater than ourselves for strength to persevere, for deliverance, and for true transformation in the face of what the world says is impossible.  “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

3. White people do things differently…and that’s okay.

Okay, obviously there are some generalizations here but knowledge of cultural patterns are helpful…some we can learn from and some need redeeming.  So moving into the inner city I was prepping myself for the culture shock of entering into the inner city…what I wasn’t prepared for was the culture shock of entering into my Servant Partners team.  Out of 8 of us in the original team God brought me to, 5 are Caucasian-American (as for the other three, there was me, a Japanese-American, 1 Nigeran-American, and 1 half Caucasian and half Chinese-American).  I didn’t realize how steeped my experience was in the Asian-American experience, and even minority experience (working and living amongst Blacks and Latinos) until I was faced with spending more time sharing life with White Americans then I ever had up to this point in my life (I know it’s strange for most of the U.S. but this is possible living in Los Angeles).

It was challenging to work through the differences racially and culturally (probably the two biggest differences were the ways younger people interact with older people and how decisions are made).  In most Asian cultures there is more of an emphasis on respect for elders and those in positions of authority.   In the white culture, at least in the group I was a part of, there is more of an emphasis on equal treatment regardless of age or position.  In the Asian culture, of how I was raised, decision are made more by the people who are in roles of authority.  In the white culture of our group decisions are made more by everyone weighing in on the decision no matter their role.  This is not to say that one way of life is better than the other but that there is a difference of approach culturally and one must learn to work together with those who may not share the same background as yourself.  I learned to roll with the group and the group learned to be flexible to my needs.  Racial reconciliation is tough but sharing life together helps to break down barriers and, in God, we can learn from one another’s perspectives.  We need each other to have a fuller picture of the Kingdom of God.

I’m sure there may be more lessons but those are the main ones that have surfaced thus far.  Thank you Servant Partners Internship Team Class of 2013 and a special thanks to Papa B-Rad and DGrootie.  And thank you God for leading me thus far.

SP team