I grew up in Toronto, Canada. Before I knew Jesus, my life was pretty self-centered. Everything I worked towards in high school and university was about making myself happy with material goods. For several years I worked in the internet industry - I was immersed in a workplace that was driven by success and ambition.
It was a gradual process of Jesus changing my life. I remember going on a missions trip to the Philippines. I saw a man who owned a fish farm. all he did was feed the fish once a day, and then he’d spend the rest of his time going through his neighborhood telling people about Jesus. This changed the way I looked at things. I felt that my life needed to have an impact on eternity.
The trip to the Philippines solidified in my heart that I wanted to give my life to ministering to others. At the time I was volunteering in my church doing youth ministry with Charmain. My life really changed when I got a job offer in Austin, Texas, to do youth ministry full-time. We were able to obtain work visas smoothly and we knew that God was blessing us to go.
For most of my life I was a Christian living for myself. Then I became a Christian truly living for God. While I’m still on a journey, and while I’m not perfect, I do have a desire to see others come into a relationship with God and be changed by His love.
My heart has changed towards people who are different than me and who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. God is breaking down my barriers in my own heart towards those He has called me to love and to serve.
Where you find yourself is where God wants you to be a light. For Charmain and myself, we moved into Northwest Pasadena because we knew that this was the most socioeconomically downcast part of our city. We believe the light shines brightest in dark places. We found that this was a dark place of the city and wanted to be that bright light. We had been loving and serving young adults in group homes around Northwest Pasadena. Our question has always been, “Where can we serve and make a difference?”
Serving at Marshall Fundamental School is an opportunity for us to make a difference. Education is part of the fabric of our city. Everyone goes to school. Schools in our city have great needs. My desire is to encourage this school, to serve them as best as I can, and to find families in need who live in Northwest Pasadena who send their kids to Marshall. We’ll also be working with the Christian Club as well. We’re also seeking to practically meet the needs of the school - through mentoring, tutoring, and mobilizing resources - to make Marshall Fundamental a great school in our neighborhood. The spirit of what we want to do is - to get in there, get our hands dirty, and to be committed over the long run - to a community in need. This is a way for our church to change our city.
Recently we went to the Getty Center. I saw a painting of Christ’s triumphal entry into Brussels by the artist James Ensor. It’s a captiviating yet disturbing image. In the chaos and the craziness of the painting, it’s difficult to see Jesus. But if you look carefully, you’ll see Jesus in the midst of the revelry, riding a donkey. There are people defecating and throwing up and partying. It’s a commentary on our world. There are people who profess to be Christians, but really don’t welcome the coming of Christ into the city.
This painting makes me think of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the celebration of the King coming and how that changes the atmosphere of where we live. Jesus is the Messiah, the Healer, and the Bearer of Good News. My dream is that Christ will be genuinely welcomed here in the city. I have an image of Jesus riding a donkey down Lake Avenue in Pasadena and people ushering in the Beloved King.
My dream is to see an end to violence in our neighborhood. My dream is to see an end to the drug dealing, dependence on drugs, and an end to fatherless. I would love to see families made whole and for there to be peace instead of hopelessness. I dream that our neighborhood will be changed by the church and through Christians living there.
Photo: Maritha Mae Photography