IT’S HERE!!!!! Many of you have walked with me, prayed with me and supported me through my internship in the Philippines! I wanted to update you with a link to my research report! My research paper has been completed and is posted on the 180 website (Right bar: new 180 report)!!!

My paper is under “Facilitating the Philippines Church to Reach Out to Street Children” entitled MOBILIZATION. This paper represents a year’s worth of life-changing experiences, writing and hard work (and a computer crash!). Praise the Lord for the work being done in the Philippines!!

MOBILIZATION


What a crazy year 2009 has been! It has flown by so quickly! It was a wild ride, it was a painful ride, it was a ride well worth taking!

In 2009…

-(Jan-March) I found my passion and calling to work with street children in the Philippines.  It was here during my internship where my education came alive, life clicked and I saw things in a new perspective that went beyond myself.  Through my research project, I saw HOPE like I had never seen amidst some of the most tragic injustice in this world.  I had the opportunity to hear personal stories of pain, loss, hope and redemption from the mouths of children and youth who were at one time, living in the streets or currently at risk of being homeless and abandoned to the streets.  I had never seen poverty to this extent, and some of my darkest days were a direct result of being overwhelmed by the situations these children live in.  Through so much pain, I also saw beauty beyond measure in the resilience of these young people.  Every second of this experience was worth it—the tears, the joy, the impact of the people I have met, every infection, illness and discomfort cannot describe what it is like to find the one thing you were created to do.  For me, it is loving and empowering street-living children in the Philippines.  And so, I continue to dream of one day returning there…

-(March-June) I graduated from Fuller Theological seminary with my Master’s in cross-cultural studies, with a concentration in children at risk.  Fuller has changed the way I look at life, missions, people, the Bible and God.  The choice to pursue a Master’s degree in a field that does not guarantee more money or a better job may be difficult for some to understand.  But the way I look at it, my education here was a time to grow as an individual and be challenged to think critically about theology, social injustice and the purpose of the Church.  I had opportunities to learn from leading professors and minds in the area of the Bible and issues revolving around children at risk—be it street children, sexually exploited and trafficked children, AIDS orphans and such.  I have met people who have forever changed my life and hope to one day partner in projects that aim to restore justice in this world and to make it a better place.  I walk away a richer person through my education and experiences at Fuller, although deeper in debt—whoops!!

(June) I went to Hawaii as a reward for finally graduating from Seminary! Although my main focus was to find a job there, it was a refreshing time to enjoy good people and beautiful nature.  I love going to Hawaii, although I am not from there originally, it is home away from home.  Growing up cross-culturally and stuck between two worlds I cannot fully understand, Hawaii offers a refuge where the best of the east meets the west join together to form a beautiful blend of culture and diversity.

-(July-October) And so the job-hunting begins!! In the midst of figuring out my passions (and how to get paid for it!)  I interned at my church working with our awesome youth group!  I had a fun summer running around with some fun teenagers in our community.  During this time, I also ran across many crazy ideas, from working with homeless youth to teaching English overseas.  While struggling to find a job that would be fulfilling, I found myself lost and directionless.  This was NOT what I expected after I finished grad school.  I questioned God’s presence, faithfulness and provision in my life.  It was a hard time figuring out my life while still working to complete my final research project for 180° Alliance.  Sixty-four pages later, I finally finished my paper: a case study on mobilizing local churches through networking and strategic partnerships.  I survived a tragic computer crash (Macbook—I’ll never look at you the same ever again) and carpal tunnel syndrome.  But in the end, everything was worth it and I have a paper I am quite proud of and is in the works to be published on their website one day!

-(November) I made a crazy last-minute decision to go to Japan to co-plan and coordinate a children’s program for Asian Access’s annual missionary conference.  Japan was an amazing experience that brought me back to my true passion and calling in life: international missions and children’s ministry.  The kids program was a success and we had a blast with them!  We also had the opportunity to reach out to the community by hosting a hula and éclair class! Quite the odd combination… Nevertheless, it was a great experience and opportunity to make new friends.  Japan was the complete opposite of the Philippines and though I had never been drawn there before, I now find myself wondering if I could live there for a few years…  From heated toilet seats to the onsen (Japanese baths), I found myself loving this country, the people and the culture!  I found it easy to relate and talk to the local people and found myself excited at the possibility of a new adventure!  My trip was a refreshing and gentle reminder that God had indeed NOT forgotten me.

-(December) The end of the year rounded out all of my experiences this year as I reflected on the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly throughout my year.  My year ended with a deeper appreciation for my family and friends and a deeper trust that this God I serve so blindly has been with me all the way.  I cannot guess what 2010 holds for me but I can only hope in eager anticipation… But that, my friends, is for a future posting.  Until then, thanks for reading and joining me in this journey we call LIFE.

Posted by: Praise Goh | November 24, 2009

Bathing and Bonding in Japan


Sue couldn’t have told it better! One of my favorite moments in Japan was visiting this AMAZING onsen… the best part is at the end. I can’t believe I was blindsighted! I giggle everytime I think of this…

Check out her blog post, totally worth reading!!

http://takameter.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/bathing-and-bonding/

Posted by: Praise Goh | November 3, 2009

Japan


We just got back from the conference where Becky and I, along with Julia and Ritsuko led a Children’s program for the missionary kids! It was so fun getting to know these kiddos and loving on them! We had a great VBS, where the kids were secret agents for the Lord! So cheesy and so fun! (hey, I love cheese).

One of my favorite cultural experiences is bath time! We even had a chance to go to a natural hot spring bath! Sooooo relaxing, I could fall asleep while in the tub! They’re public baths, but they separate men and women. You get to know to women and children quick taking a bath together! 😉 Apparently, bath time is a very social and cultural experience here in Japan; forget getting coffee, get naked together! But really, important conversations and decisions are made during bath time! Although awkward at first, I am so glad I got this cultural experience!

Becky and I are really loving spending time with the Takamoto family! Thurs, we are having “Eclair and Hula” class! Becky will be teaching  how to make eclairs, and I’ll be teaching hula! This should be fun! 😉

Gotta run, but we are swine -flu free so far, safe, happy and loving it here! Until next time, sayonara!

Posted by: Praise Goh | October 20, 2009

Homecoming


I have this secret love for music that hasn’t hit mainstream yet… It feels great to “discover” a favorite song or band that no one else has heard of. My current love is a song by Nathan Wheeland. He plays this song “Homecoming” with the ukelele. It’s such a fun, up-beat song. I just wanna dance, hula, jump and smile! Nate Frogg, I think you should record and become big. At least make a music video of this song in Hawaii, please? I would love you forever.
Check it out:
http://www.myspace.com/natefrog

Click on the last song: “Homecoming.” When I first went on the page, the song count was like 30 for this song… hahhah guess who’s been playing this song over and over?

Also check out “The Kinks.”

Posted by: Praise Goh | October 18, 2009

THANK YOU!


Dear Faithful friends

I am so thrilled to share that all of my support for Japan has come in!! I am blessed beyond belief by the overwhelming response of prayer, encouragement, financial support and love that have come my way in taking this risk! THANK YOU so much! I am in awe of how God has deepened my view of Him as provider and author of every good and perfect thing! Thank you for loving me so practically!

Our plane tickets have been booked and we are leaving Oct 29th! I’ll be gone until Nov 13! All of the planning is underway and we are setting pace to plan a jam-packed fun VBS program for the kids! I’m enthusiastic and energized by this opportunity to serve overseas!

I just wanted to share with you the good news! Thank you all for your love and support!

Posted by: Praise Goh | October 5, 2009

Adventure to Japan!


I am so excited to share with you an opportunity I have to serve some missionary friends, the Takamoto family, in Japan at the end of this month. Some of you may know them well and possibly support their ministry. For those of you who do not know this family, they have been church planting missionaries in Sanda, Japan with Asian Access for many years. In the process they have adopted 3 Japanese children and are currently foster parents for a newborn. Their hearts lie in living out the gospel. As Sue Takamoto says, “We love incarnational ministry — seeking to live our every-day lives in such a way that those around us become interested in Jesus.” I am honored to partner with this family who is invested and pouring into their community.

Every year Asian Access has a five-day fall conference with their mission community in the mountains of Japan. Becky Kuchenski and I will be overseeing the children’s ministry during the conference. This will be one of two occasions during the year in which their children get Christian teaching, worship times and fellowship outside of their home life. There will be twelve kids ranging from 2 months to twelve years old. Many of you may have heard of the 10/40 window, referring to a geographical area of the world that is largely unreached and in poverty. There has been growing awareness of another window: the 4/14 window refers to research that has pointed that many who make significant, long-term decisions to follow Christ almost always tend to make it between the ages of 4 and 14! With this said, I have a huge heart to serve in children’s ministry and to see children grow in wisdom and stature!

After the conference, we will do an outreach to the women of their community who have shown in interest in the Gospel. We may also stay with families who are not believers hoping to have chances to share our faith.

This is also a special trip because Becky and I have had a mentoring relationship for several years. I’m excited at this opportunity to serve with my mentor! Both Becky and I are in a situation where we are trusting God to provide for this trip! Becky recently lost her job over the summer and is now tutoring. With 2 kids in college, she has been challenged to trust in the Lord through this process. I have recently graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary and plan to go into full time missions to work with street children one day. It has been challenging searching for direction through my unemployment. Needless to say, neither of us have the funds for the trip, but we do have the time!

More than anything, we need your prayers for our travels, children’s curriculum, boldness to share our faith, endurance and faith in God’s provision. I’m excited to participate in God’s mission to share the good news with those who are in need. Whether this need is material, physical, or spiritual, we have this amazing opportunity to be the hands, feet and spirit of this great God we serve.

“When they see among them, their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy, they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel” (Isaiah 29:23)

You are a blessing to me and I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Blessings,

Praise

Posted by: Praise Goh | September 7, 2009

Partnering with the local church


I am continually challenged to think about what it would look like to partner and mobilize churches into holistic mission.  For me, a large part of that involves raising awareness and moving into action with regards to social issues. I know, I’m biased, but I do believe God has a heart for children at risk.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

Here is a GREAT resource on how to NGOs can partner with the local church. Practical, easy to read, and inspiring, I get excited about the idea of creating partnerships, working together, and linking people to fight for the same cause!

Partnering with the Local Church, Tearfund.

Posted by: Praise Goh | September 4, 2009

Beauty moments #1 and #2


As a reminder of how amazing this thing called LIFE is, I’m attempting to write about occasional moments of beauty that take my breath away, inspire me and bring me closer to the heart of God.

Beauty moment this week; well, it would have to be two:

The first happened in church this week during “Family Sunday.” The fifth sunday of the month, my church combines children and adults for a child-friendly service. The youth group led worship while the kids came up to sing their songs. Amidst the silly hand movements and jumping around, I felt the world stopped as I witnessed a moment of heaven on earth.  Seeing children worship God is one of the most beautiful things I experience on this earth.  There is something about this that demonstrates faith like a child: with love so pure, trust so deep and  joy so free, that reminds me of the heart of God.

My second moment happened in a coffee shop while reading a friend’s blog. This too, has to deal with God’s heart for children.  My friend Molly is in South Africa, with Oasis, partnering with their community wellness program and health-care HIV/AIDS prevention program.  This particular blog post shared about a talent show she coordinated and put together with the kids she was working with. The talent show was an amazing opportunity to nurture resilience in children at risk.  It was beautiful to read about how they are making space for creativity and art to be freely expressed! I was so inspired to read about how children in some of the most devastating circumstances can celebrate life through art and dance!

Posted by: Praise Goh | September 2, 2009

Social Engagement: the Church and secular NGOs


As I have been writing and finishing up my research project on church mobilization in the Philippines, I am continually challenged to think about the church’s prophetic role to be a source of light and transformation in our community.  A growing concern of mine is the lack of involvement the Evangelical church has in working with the poor through transformational development. This is not a post to criticize the church, it is merely a trend I have seen that raises serious concerns about the missional church.  I feel as though this is a personal dilemma I face, as I reflect upon my own theology and experience of the church and social justice.

Finishing up from Fuller, I am currently looking for a job that fits my skills, experience and passions.  As I look at job postings, my eye can’t help but be drawn to Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the jobs they offer.  From research to children at risk, to dealing with trafficking issues to child protection, these NGOs offer a job that is paid to help children in crisis around the world.  I get excited by what these organizations are doing to provide relief, empowerment, rights, protection and social progress for our world.

Except there seems to be one thing missing…

If I believe in the power of the church and the transformation that comes only from Christ, then I should believe and support the mission of the church to bring the kingdom of God here on earth, in every capacity.  So why do I cringe when I see a job posting at a church?  I know my own personal issues as a Pastor’s kid have disenchanted my perception of the church.  Sometimes when I think of the church, I think of burnout, exhaustion and dread and I want to run as far as I can from the church.  But deep down, I know that I firmly believe that only the church can bring true transformational development in this world.

Humanitarianism appears to be leading the way in socio-economic development to make this world a better place.  In his article, “The Church and Transformational Development,” Bryant L. Myers argues for the role of the church in developing nations.  “Socio-economic development tends to be seen seen as a secular and material enterprise: The church is not often part of the conversation or the solution” (Myers 2000, 64).  So while the questions is, why hasn’t the church been part of the solution, I feel as though I cannot answer this questions without being misunderstood.  So instead, I ask, how can the church be a part of this solution?

When I first started writing this post, it was entitled the Church versus the secular NGOs.  But as I got to thinking, I realized I can not pit one against the other; I am just advocating for one to fulfill its calling.  Secular and faith-based NGOs have their place in development.  When I think about Payatas, the dumpsite in the Philippines that collapsed and killed many children and families, I am so thankful for organizations like UNICEF and the government who provided immediate relief and help amidst such tragedy.  Secular NGOs are needed.  But, in order for true transformation to take place, the church needs to step in, partner with these NGOs and engage critically in these social issues.

In Donald Miller’s book, Global Pentecostalism: The new face of Christian Social Engagement, a new trend sees the Pentecostal church “moving beyond a charity model of social engagement and into a community-organizing and development program” (Miller and Tetsunao 2007, 39).  The church needs to rise up to her prophetic calling and serve her community holistically and missionally.

Whereas secular NGOs are “typically an outside institution, imposing an external agenda and… is often controlled by people who do not live in the community” (ibid 41), the potential of the missional church is her potential as a deep-rooted, stable institution that can create long-term change with her community.  With this potential envisioned, again we ask, how can the church be a part of transformational development?

One key principle is mobilization.  This involves igniting the vision and developing a missional identity in the church; it provides training and tools to equip the congregation (not just key leaders— this is where workers get burned out and exhausted…) to participate in holistic mission in their community.  This goes beyond evangelism and seeks to bring the kingdom of God by addressing and restoring the material, socio-economic, and spiritual needs of a community.

The second way for the church to be actively involved is by creating effective partnerships with those who are already addressing some of these issues.  This includes secular and faith-based NGOs who have a role in community.  The church’s ability to partner and network with others who have the same desire to see true transformation occur in the communities is a powerful thing.  These two principles are at the core of my research in the Philippines (more to come later…)

Lastly, I believe that hope amidst injustice lies in the power of Jesus Christ.  As the body of Christ, the church is called to stand in the gap of oppression and injustice and participate in the great exchange Christ sets in Isaiah 61:1-4.  The church is a catalyst of change that carries out the kingdom work by establishing justice through action and restoration.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

Works Cited:

Myers, Bryant. 2000. The Church and Transformational Development. Transformation 17:2: 64-67.

Miller, Donald and Yamamori Tetsunao. Global Pentecostalism: The new face of Christian Social Engagement. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.


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