I am rising out of a funk. It has been months since I sent out the Caleb Saga, blogged or wrote anything public for that matter. Somewhere in the midst of my new responsibilities as the only pastor of Kairos Westwood and overwhelming circumstances that rocked my world, my artistic inspiration and my vocation, I undoubtedly lost heart. I could not find the heart to advocate for my orphan siblings in India because the problems of the slum conditions suddenly seemed too big for me to tackle. I could not find the heart to delight in my acting abilities when additional jobsand simply trying to meet all my deadlines loomed in front of me. And worst of all, I lost the heart to write or even dream.
Looking back on this year of growing pains, I often wonder how I could still be standing. I have two reasons. The first is my wonderful wife who has evolved into not only my most loyal partner, but also a source of strength and wisdom even in the midst of poor health and uncertain times. I am reminded that she is the wisest choice I have ever made in my life. The second reason I have concluded is that my creator restores my soul even in the Valley…
Earlier this month, I found myself in North Carolina. The reason for which I had initially purchased my plane ticket had unexpectedly fallen through but what awaited me was a true healing of the soul. It started with the welcome of my hyper god-daughters and moved to wedding of a dear friend from college. The torrential rain drenched her lovely outdoor wedding but as she stood under an umbrella with her groom, the most brilliant rainbow appeared across the sky symbolizing the promise of the one who never forsakes us. I was encouraged by old college buddies who have evolved into parents and people of deep passion, each impacting the world in ones own measure. I was comforted by the company and hospitality of dear friends, and the support of new friends as I share with them opportunities on how they could join me in my mission.
The most significant incident occurred while I was sharing my story with a man I met for the first time for potential ministry support. The impact was less in what he said but rather how he listened to me. He listened so intently and with so much care that I was taken by surprise when my eyes suddenly welled up with tears right in the middle of my presentation. It was then that I realized that I had been fully spent in mind, spirit and soul, and the only solution to my loss of heart was the Sabbath of the heart.
I left my new friend feeling blessed and decided to take the longer more scenic road to New Bern. Unlike my usual practice of listening to music on a road trip, I reveled in the silence allowing myself to heal from my wounds and rejuvenate from rest. I was reminded of an old song my mother used to sing years ago;
Lord, You know that I’ve been foolish, I’ve been blind;
I’ve let my doubts and my confusions cloud
I have walked in my own wisdom; I’ve been wrong
Take my hand and lead me back where I belong
Stripped of all that once I clung to, Lord, I come
Tho’ in your eyes I know I’m nothing, yet I come
With your hand that once was nail-scarred just for me,
Touch me now and make me all that I should be
Restore my soul in the valley, that I might be worthy
at last to stand with Thee on the top of the mountain;
In the valley, restore my soul
Since my return to LA, I have learned that unless a man learns to stop and surrender to God, he cannot fully join him in the renewal of all things. How can a man even attempt to save the world when he himself is in need saving?
My friends, I am finally rising up with a better understanding of my limitations and the knowledge that my soul can be restored even in the valley. I am confident that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. And I am amazed that even in the valley over the last few months, there has been fruit.
While still small in numbers, Kairos Westwood has grown in obedience and intentional influence. Last month, my heart rejoiced to baptize 6 people from my community at the beach as they publically professed their faith and gave their life to Christ. We are currently exploring ways to serve West Los Angeles in social justice and meaningful relationships. I am currently seeking interns from local seminaries who might feel called to come out and serve with me as church staff especially in the areas of worship, evangelism and networking. The UCLA students have returned from their summer break and we will soon resume with Dollar Dinners and intentional missional spaces.
The work in India has been growing even with the brief time I took away to reflect the role and effectiveness of the Caleb Hope Foundation. In Delhi, a couple of my orphan siblings have been married this year, and some are making their way through higher education at local collages. We have not given up on wanting to serve them and are currently looking into raising funds for their higher education with the help of LA talents.
In Bangalore, the Bhagya Trust continues to do outstanding work. Young adolescent girls from the slums have been growing in their computer skills in the new facilities in preparation to be financially independent.
In our personal lives, we are experiencing God’s provision by the day. Thanks to a dear friend from our community who agreed to be a guarantor for a student loan, Angel has begun her expedited nursing program at Westcoast University in North Hollywood. Because of the intensity of her program, she has given up her job. As the sole earner of our family, I am actively raising support to increase my support to sustain my work with CHF and at Kairos LA. Our hearts also rejoiced this month when my best friend in the world Dustin got engaged and was offered a full time engineering job back in LA! Just knowing that he and his bride will be close brings us so much gratefulness.
I find that even in the valley, one can have a glimpse of the sunrise reminding us that His mighty hand continues to lead us through unexpected journeys, restoring us each day for the work that is yet to be done and the people who are yet to be reached.