I'm praying while I am writing this....In Oakland where I go to school (School of Urban Missions) I have the privilege of experiencing the most vicarious movement that I know will make history in the Church and the coolest thing about it is, its going to happen in the Bay Area right here in Oakland. Guest Speakers have been coming to my school and calling Oakland...the Oaks of Righteousness. In addition, I'm claiming a similar title, but not just in Oakland...but in Milpitas...my hometown.
When I went home over the weekend I went door to door in Milpitas just sharing the love of God and it hit me so hard. I came back home broken. I started to examine myself and realized that I am free, but am I really free? Because it seems like I pass up someone on BART and I feel like I should tell them a word, but I am too scared because they may look at me crazy. "That Jesus Freak...thinks she knows it all. Bunch of hypocrites. I don't want your religion blah blah blah."...trust me I got a lot of that at Mardi Gras. But anyways, if I'm really free wouldn't I go to the extremes of freeing someone else? I have experience this freedom and all I want to do is expose the people who I once knew...and the city I was raised- in the power of God. I don't want to promote a religion. In fact, religion is the problem because we get cooped up with traditions and LOSE THE PRACTICALITY of the Gospel. Religion is man's way of trying to define and reach God and Christianity (Jesus) is God's way of touching humanity by loving us, forgiving us, dying on the cross, and raising from the dead. That is why I want to promote JESUS CHRIST because it was Him who freed me of my misery, my loneliness, my dependency on drinking, smoking, the high to satisfy me. You see, there was that void in me that could not be satisfied by the things of the world and God filled that, and now it is going to overflow to others.
While I was seeking God I was weeping...asking what is a girl like me to do? I am a nobody...a loser who chose to lose her social life, friends, image and everything at the cost of following this God? Why?....
I open the bible and searched the scriptures and it read,
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, un-spiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
-- James 3:13-18 (NRSV)
I started to think about Milpitas because "Milpa" can be translated as "cornfield". What is interesting about this is I remember as a child that my mother planted a cornfield since I live up in the hills by Ed Levin park. In fact I have a picture of me in front of that cornfield smiling posing for the camera as a 7 year old and now I look at that picture with great significance. Lord, am I going to be that peacemaker?
In addition, in Mexico and South America Milpa is known as a crop growing system. However, "milpa" is not just some typical agricultural system. The farmers have a great responsibility to interconnect and form relationships with each other as well as being connected to the crop and the land.
Then I ran into this quote:
For example, it has been noted that "the making of milpa is the central, most sacred act, one which binds together the family, the community, the universe...[it] forms the core institution of Indian society in Mesoamerica and its religious and social importance often appear to exceed its nutritional and economic importance." ( Nigh, R. (1976) Evolutionary ecology of Maya agriculture in highland Chipas, Mexico. PhD dissertation, Stanford University. Ann Arbor: University microfilms.)
I believe that if the church does its duty as peace makers we will be able to expose the city to the power of the gospel. Are we working together? Are we just expecting numbers? According to the quote, in that culture the community didn't really care about the results but they cared about the community as a whole. What happen to our Faith Community? Why is there a church on every corner and there is a drug epidemic in Milpitas?..I don't care if its in the suburbs. We cannot be ignorant about the things that occur in our city because I lived it and I have witnessed it. Why do people look at Obama as the one to bring Change? Why was Tu-Pac the Hip Hop prophet who became the voice of the oppressed? Its because people are searching for a hero to save them and we (the church) aren't exposing these people to the savior who is our hero and every answer to our problems. We look to celebrities and political leaders...I mean in every action movie there is that hero. In my Systematic Theology class I remember the discussion about I AM LEGEND...and Hankcock or Armegeddon in relation to society's fixation on "heroes"....when Jesus in fact came to save the world through spiritual freedom.
To the church:
What happen to the church liberating the broken and binding up the wounds? Its not numbers I am concerned with, its quality not just of those who can be discipled, but the quality of our lives as we are called to reach out. When is the church going to step up? When are you and I going to do everything with every fiber of our being to make sure the message gets across? Its not just a duty, to love God is to love his children. When I came to divine revelation I could not grasp how long and how wide and how deep God's love is and that is what inspires me to move and put my words into actions rather than just preach.
I interviewed Pastor Toby at Patten University for my Urban Sociology project and I asked him, "What do you think is the major social issue we deal with today?". I was surprised by his answer because he replied along the lines of, "The gospel is not being preached..even in Christian organizations. You can build recreational centers and swimming pools, but that just smoothe off the edges of just a "social issue" when really people need an internal transformation, not just external hope." All this time I thought that things can be solved with money and more funds to non profit organizations that do a lot for communities. We are not just dealing with social issues like kids living in a Fatherless generation, or the homeless and violence. We are fighting to address the internal issue.
I want to encourage those who are in Milpitas that are believers not to be ashame of the gospel as Paul states the book of Romans 1. C'mon lets tend to the field. Lets co-labor with Jesus and work in the field. I want to encourage pastors or spiritual leaders in Milpitas to see the seriousness behind the matter. I want to exhort those who have taken the initiative to share the love of God wherever they go whether it was in words or in action...keep it up. I want to tell unbelievers my testimony vs. facts and philosophy (Utilitarianism etc. blah blah blah). I want to tell those who I use to be associated that though I'm living for God I still love you and don't look at you any different from myself. I'm a sinner and imperfect, but in submission to the One (God) who has redeemed me. in fact, i am not an erudite either. If I have the knowledge of the world and have great theology, but not love all this would be done in vain and be pointless. I am just a girl who was raised in Milpitas, but I feel like God has ordained Milpitas to be my hometown for a reason. I grew up hating Milpitas and not appreciating the tiny mobile home in which I lived the most part of my life. Now I look at those beautiful hills, knowing that there is purpose in my life...crying with tears of compassion and burden by the great responsibility before me. I have been feeling so inadequate and dry lately, but obedience is key no matter my emotions. I know that God is still on the throne. All I can do is worship Him, pray, and sing praises to Him.