Monthly Archives: June 2013

Free-thinkers, Relativism and Troubled Youth

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Thus went my first month missionary-ing in the University of the Philippines Diliman.

And?

Well, I still love UP!

I still love the free-thinking, rebellious, non-conformist, ambitious, activist and intellectual culture espoused and encouraged on campus.

Oblation

Of course, being here means I get to talk to free-thinking, rebellious, non-conformist, ambitious, activist and intellectual students. EXCITING… one of the perks of my job.

So far, in my short stay here I have been able to speak with students with intellectual and emotional barriers as thick and high as the walls of Jericho.

Students who say thinks like:

“I believe in a God. I’m a free-thinker.”

“I believe in God, but not the kind of God the church teaches. I don’t believe all that Jesus-turning-water-into-wine stuff.”

“I’m a writer, so I appreciate meta-narrative. The Bible is a great example of that… but I think it’s nothing more than a great piece of literature.”

“I think truth is relative… but murder is wrong.”

“I love pain. I’m a masochist.”

“I don’t want Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin. want to pay it.”

 

And my personal favorite (after introducing myself as a missionary):

“Cool! It’s my first time meeting a missionary. You better keep doing what you’re doing. Go find some troubled youth who might benefit from you.”

 

When I remember these encounters, my emotions range from amusement, to worry, to pain for these kids. Oh, have I mentioned? Most of these students I’ve talked to are freshmen. FRESHMEN! At fifteen/sixteen/seventeen they have been exposed to enough pain and suffering and ideologies and whatever for them to arrive at such conclusions of confusion.

That last statement up there is my favorite because it does have some truth in it — the students I meet who are most receptive of the Gospel are the “troubled” ones. More specifically, the ones who know they are troubled, or know they’re in trouble… in more ways than one.

 

I think of student R*, who in our first meeting cried as she shared of the pain caused by her dad’s refusal (or inability) to reciprocate love to her mom.

I think of student JN*, so starved of affection from her dad, who left her early as a child.

I think of student JG*, who knew there had to be more to God than what the “clergy” in front kept spouting every Sunday morning.

Obviously, so far I’ve been having fun at best, and encountered interesting experiences at worst. I have to admit though, I have a tendency to teeter towards being too overwhelmed by all these… barriers.

See, these barriers, they are so real. SO REAL. And sometimes, it could be a challenge to not be too engrossed with this girl’s pain and wallow with her in her ocean of darkness. Sometimes it is difficult to keep her from drowning and pull her to the shore.

What else can I say?

A month here in UP has affirmed my heart, has shown me – in no uncertain terms – how terrible the world we live in is, and also how seriously I must take my job if I am to make any lasting impact. If I am to save drowning people, I gotta keep training and preparing with all I’ve got.

I’m gonna have to be rested and nourished in the presence of The One who is not only the Life Guard, but is also the Life-Giver.

 

 

 

*names hidden because I obviously didn’t get their permission to publicize their stories. So there.

Missionartist because of you.

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Daddy, his big hair, and his first, best and loveliest baby: ME.

Dear Daddy,

Can you believe it? You’ve been a dad to me for twenty one years already!

When you looked at me then, fresh from the womb, in mommy’s arms, did you imagine what I’d be like twenty one years later? Did you have any idea who and what I’d become?

When you taught me how to walk, did you know the paths I’d eventually pursue?

When I fell and hurt myself and cried (and from what I remember I fell a lot back then!), did you imagine the kind of hurts I’d eventually have and have to endure?

When you tutored my for my Maths classes in Grade School, did it ever cross your mind that I would grow to loathe the subject? (LOL)

When you made the decision to enter missionary training with me in tow, did you ever think or hope, in your wildest dreams, that I’d be a missionary too?

When you introduced me to and let me play with the students you discipled and mentored, did you pray I’d have the privilege of discipling others too?

When you heard me sing for the first time, what did you think? Did it occur to you that my love for music would grow to such a passion that throbs in my veins and whose very thought would constrict my heart?

When you saw me starting to doodle on every surface I found, and fashion things from scraps I found around the house, did you imagine how my love of creating and producing would grow to such an extent that it would bear such weight in my decision-making now?

What did you think of me back then? What do you think of me now?

What did you think in all those years in between?

I can’t be sure, but… I am sure of what I know.

That it was you who taught me to dream. Remember? I couldn’t be more than 10 years old back then. You tucked me in for the night by telling me about your dreams… for me. How you wanted me to go to this high school because it was the best. How you thought I’d be the best by doing this, doing that. Being this, and being that.

All the while never pushing.

And eventually, when my own dreams took form, grew and blossomed, you were ever supportive, seeking ways to help me pursue it.

Yes, what a great, great gift you’ve given me, Daddy: you taught me to dream. Loftily.

My confidence now comes from the fact that you believed in me.

You taught me to reach for the stars, and reach high.

More than that, you taught me to reach for and know Him who sits behind the stars, in the thrones of heaven.

Thank you, Daddy.

I am a missionartist, a missionary and an artist, because of you.

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Well, since my birth, three more girls came along. With four of us in his life, who needs boys, right?