My experience with Christ and His calling for ministry has been one of pursuit and truth: Pursuit in the act of testing the reality of my faith, and truth in finding that it is more real than I could ever imagine. In following where Christ takes me, I not only have discovered Christ taking care of me, but more importantly, Christ makes me who I should be. Going on this journey with God has stretched my faith farther than I ever imagined, but simultaneously confirming God's presence during times of woe. Simply put: my journey has been one of finding God and answering His call to take care of His people.
Not growing up in a particularly “religious” home, I found I often felt an outsider when it came to living life in the mainstream “Christian” arena. My mind worked differently than my peers around me, making me “different”. After many years of frustration and a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, I had a very low impression of myself. Due to teasing peers and wanting so much to be liked, I joined with the deviant “goth” crowd. The “goth” crowd were those in school who did not fit in as well either. However, throughout high school, I did not drink, do drugs or party like my friends did. In fact, many of them asked me why I was so “weird”. While I did not have a bible verse telling them exactly why I was deviant to the social deviants, I told them it was because I believed in this “Bible thing”. This peaked their interest because most Christians they had met were “cookie cutter popular kids” and spoke in a very cliché manner about their faith (i.e. using “Christianese”). After being bombarded with tough questions, I began to look to the Bible for answers. Given, there were not many times in high school that you are able to spout off Biblical exegesis and begin a revival, in showing people my faith when it was not widely accepted in my peer group made me ask, “Is Christ real?”
The reality of Christ came to me from a very unexpected place: the homeless. During high school, my family had joined a church that was the only local soup kitchen in the area. It was there I got my exposure to the needs of the homeless. They were living examples of the ones Christ called “blessed”. The homeless taught me what the real need of our souls are. While many were hungry and needed clothing, most of the people served thought those needs to be secondary. Almost all of the people we served wanted to talk to us. It did not matter what we talked about. In listening their stories, their struggles became my own. I knew what it was like to be ostracized for being weird. I remembered feeling friendless and lonely. It was in the soup kitchen and on mission trips that I saw where the blessed were: it was as Christ taught, with those who were suffering.
As I began to explore the world of the needy and hurt, I heard an insightful definition at what ministry is. I once heard a minister quote Nietzsche who said “Life is suffering”. The minister then elaborated by saying “Ministry is being willing to suffer together”. Working with the homeless and society's “deviants” has made me see that true ministry is not a neat, faith-tictac that is frequently given by mainstream believers. Overusing the answers of “God has a plan” and “just wait until we get to heaven” seemed very shallow in terms of the spirituality Christ lived. Frequently, Christ lived with questionable communities, healed the sick (the “untouchables” in that society), and befriended outcasts and social misfits. In living the message of “it is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick”, I have seen the risen Lord and what it means to be a suffering servant of God.
Currently, I am serving as an intern at a drop in center for homeless youth in downtown Denver. In living on-site with the people that I minister to, I am able to sympathize with some of the struggles of those whom I minister. Therefore, when we face the struggles of the human experience (loss, abuse, and the effects of sin), ministry becomes less of an ethereal concept and more of a journey with the One who saved my soul.
While serving others, I have found God using me in areas that I have never dreamed. There have been times of grief, confusion, and abject circumstances that often just need someone to be with them. However, there are times when I get the opportunity to speak into the lives of those who hurt, as well as share my own pain and faith with those I have found here. Having a biblical studies emphasis from bible school has been invaluable in relating the truth of this life story. However, there have been many times that I do not have the answer and have to give the wisest of all advice, “I don't know what to do, but I'll pray for you.”
In battling the spiritual demons of the weak and broken, I have found the more ways (or “tools”) to relate God's truth to real problems, the better off you are at having God's Word heal brokenness. Seminary will allow me a way to gain more tools to help those in need. Using the skills from my degree in Human Communication will allow me to relate the ideas gleaned from Seminary into real life. The skills I get from Seminary, God willing, will guide me to raise the hurting from the death that is sin, and thus, point to none other than our risen Lord.
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