Howdy, blog world. First off, shout out to my peeps up in Canada, especially my friends of Hamilton and the FRWY community. Although I'm loving Austin, I miss you all deeply. Here's a quick update on what's been going on and what has developed in my involvement with the in-breaking of God's Kingdom here in Austin.
Prior to coming down here, I've been telling everyone that I'm going to be involved in something called 'redistribution', one of three descriptors used by the pastor and civil rights leader John Perkins to describe his process of bringing change and justice to the south that had been ravaged by poverty and racism. (The three descriptors are Relocation, Redistribution and Reconciliation). I had also said that I would be involved in this said 'redistribution' on a church community level, but since moving down here and getting to know the community as well as chatting with the lead pastor and my dear friend Gideon, we've decided that my involvement would be on a smaller group level. Allow me to elaborate.
Over the past year or so, there has been a small group of people within the Vox Veniae community that has developed an awareness and heart for the socioeconomic polarization found in the Austin community, namely the poverty in East Austin and the rest of Austin. As their discussions grew and began to unravel and unfold, a handful decided that living incarnationally within the East Austin community would be their desired course of action to address the issues that laid before them. As of right now, there are 2 houses that are occupied by people from this group, and they are Evan, Stephen and Adam living in the guy's house called 'Brookswood' (because it's on Brookswood Street) and Marsha and Jan living in 'The Prock House' (I'll let you figure out where that name came from). Along with these two houses, there are 5 other houses in the East Austin community that are occupied by fellow Vox people. One of them belongs to Gideon, his wife Karen and their two boys, another belongs to Weylin, the Vox community/administrative pastor, his wife Rachel (who is also Gideon's younger sister), and their son and 6 month old daughter. Two other houses are homes to 9 women that are part of the university campus group Campus Crusade for Christ. Although not all of these women are part of Vox, we share the same desire of loving our neighbor and bringing Grace into a deeply graceless world. The final house is the one that I now call home. I share this beautiful space with an amazing couple, Jim and Gretchen, who I absolutely adore. In March of last year, Jim and I went on the same trip to India together, where we also became roommates for the trip. A year later, Jim and Gretchen got married, and I had the honor of participating in their ceremony by reading a scripture passage in Cantonese.
I share all this to say that I am super stoked about the new opportunity that has been given to me to be the community pastor here in East Austin. I get to pair my love of leading, teaching and mentoring in a small group context with a God inspired passion to love my neighbor in the East Austin community that seems to have been neglected in the city's allotment of love and grace. Although I dive into this new chapter in my journey with God and people with uncertainty, excitement, and buckets of sweat and questions, I bring along with me all that I have experienced and learned during my journey in Canada.
* From being shunned by the community at Tyndale and my initial experiences with new church communities in the GTA, I have a greater passion and desire to welcome and engage others into community.
* From being challenged academically and theologically during my scholastic pursuits, I bring with me a new lens in which I see the church and the world we've been called to love.
* From my experience with being part of a church community that saw its doors both opening and closing within a span of 2 years, I bring the heartache that comes with unactualized dreams and desires, as well as the realization that we don't have as much time as we think to dick around, and need to start doing the things God has called us to do, which is to love God, and Love our neighbor.
* From spending a month and a half living with an amazing couple who modeled sincerity, love and authenticity at every waking moment, I bring with me an experience with a living arrangement that all future living arrangements will be compared to, a greater hope for marriage in this world of broken hearts and shattered promises, and the realization that living with a married couple can actually be both fun and awesome.
* From being welcomed into the FRWY community, I have been able to finally experience authentic community in a church context for what seems to be the first time in my life. In seeing how a community can unite under the same passion and desire to love God and love their neighbor, I bring with me a new paradigm for churches of the future to learn from, innovative ways to engage the community, a heightened passion and desire to love the unloved and care for the outcast, and a community of selflessness that is in a league of its own.
Thanks everyone for putting your fingerprint on my life, whether it was a positive or negative, for my life has been influenced and affected by both. I hope to continue to journey with all of you who have loved me, and for those who don't like me, I must beg to ask the question, why are you reading this blog, sucka?