At several moments in my life, G-d calls me in such a clear fashion it becomes impossible for me to avoid. One of these moments happened about a month ago. This is the brief story of that and the results.
A guy I know named Josh has a sister named Kait. Kait went to Azusa Pacific University and majored in Social Work. Following graduation, she moved to Vietnam to take a position with an Australian non-profit called AoG World Relief. Not long ago, she visited Seattle for a little over a week during which time I discussed the details of her work and listened to many stories of her faithful undertaking. In Vietnam, she worked doing general relief efforts while building connections with cohorts in order to begin a ministry for the liberation of women and men involved in sex trafficking. Kait spoke with passion, excitement, and fervor while she exuded the Holy Spirit. Her visit excited me.
More than excitement, I felt challenge. The trouble with people practicing radical righteousness is their tendency to expose others’ lack of integrity, particularly mine. I saw in Kait a projection of everything good I wanted to do but was too afraid. What holds me back? Why do I stay in Seattle griping about rich, white people, working at a job I cannot stand, pretending as though one day I will be a respectable, Christian man who is known for his love for the oppressed. Kait’s visit exposed my fear. I spent my life hesitating like those who hesitate to worship Jesus in Matthew 28 yet still receive the same command.
Laid before me was my unwillingness to go where I feared. I looked around at those whom I surrounded myself with. I thought about Kevin and Marian Neuhouser specifically. My great respect for them grew out of their experiences working among the poor and oppressed in Brazil. Those times shaped them significantly in an extremely positive way. My reflections revealed my need to partake in work amongst those who live beneath the heavy hand of empire. Still, I feared.
Finally, during the first week of Lent, I prepared a sermon on Jesus’ temptation in the desert in Luke. In the sermon (which you can read below), I concluded Lent was a time in which we refuse the temptations that seem to grant us expedient relief or success and do the hard work to rid ourselves of actions that might embody these temptations. What we give up, then, must be given up forever. During the writing of that sermon, I felt the enunciation of Kait’s challenge to my hesitant, complacent comfort manifest as G-d’s ubiquitous command in the Bible, “Do not be afraid.” The command, so clear it was unavoidable, led me to sign up with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).
From May 12-25 I will be in Colombia working with a delegation on behalf of small artisan miners and small farmers in order to maintain their safety and livelihood in the face of a multinational gold-mining corporation who wants to mine on the 3 million acres of land where these people live. Paramilitary and Colombian military roam the region. Finally, I am stepping out. I am going to go do what I know the L-RD requires of me. Hopefully, this will lead to a full-time, 3-year placement with CPT. I certainly hope it does. In any case, I am stepping out without fear, knowing G-d will be with me. Peace!