Praise: I am being considered for a financial scholarship opportunity
Prayer: Please pray that I would find grace and favor with the group offering the financial scholarship. Also, that more financial scholarship and work opportunities would present themselves to pay down my “mountain” of student loans.
This is the application I am working with:
Current GPA: 3.821
Degree Program: Master of Divinity/Evangelism and Discipleship
Units Completed at Talbot: 80
Units taking in FA2016: 6 and SP2017: 6
Expected Graduation Date: May 2017
- Please describe your current ministry.
Presently, I serve with the leadership team of Victory House (VH), a men’s residential discipleship ministry with an emphasis on Christ-centered drug, alcohol, and chronic homelessness rehabilitation treatment. My primary responsibilities are to intentionally exercise compassion and mentorship.
Concerning compassion, the practice includes praying for day-to-day for opportunities to effectively comfort, encourage, and support VH residents in their struggles. The on-going desire is to intentionally exercise mercy, heal wounds, lest mention, ultimately, evangelize and disciple residents in committed relationships with Jesus the Christ.
Concerning mentorship, the practice includes intentionally building effective authentic life-giving relationships with VH residents. The on-going desire is to purposefully offer guidance, influence, training, and perspective that contribute to VH residents growing in Christlikeness.
- How do you anticipate serving the cause of Christ when you have completed your Talbot education?
God willing, I plan to serve with a pastoral leadership team committed to growing and reproducing communities of disciples of Christ in the city-centers who are committed to missional as well as incarnational lifestyles. Ideally, a chain of strategically located non-profit coffee houses and hostels would serve as the Holy Spirit epicenters while also funding the community transformation movements.
Also, God willing, I plan to pursue a PhD in Theology and Culture with a Practical Theology minor in order to further develop my ministry and writing potential. For instance, I have a blog that is gaining a following. My hope in this regard is to, by God’s grace, teach at the university level as well as blog and vlog effective practical theology pieces for the high popular/low scholarly audience, then distribute them through social media, with the aim of reaching out, touching, and transforming lives towards Christlikeness via the world wide web.
- Provide a short account of your background and conversion.
In 1998 I made the conscious decision that I wanted to live and die a relatively short life as a methamphetamine addict. I was twenty-four and had been living a double life of as a high functioning addict for nearly nine years. At this points, I was a mild mannered insurance agent by day and bi-sexual clubber methamphetamine addict by night. That day I abandoned my mild manners and committed to being autonomous, a die-hard methamphetamine addicted clubber who openly practiced bi-sexuality. In short haste, I quit my job as an insurance agent and, in just as short haste, opportunities in the adult entertainment industry presented themselves.
What I intended to be a way to make some quick cash to satisfy my most pressing financial obligations, snow-balled into a five-year career and far reaching family on the homosexual side of the adult entertainment industry. I fully gave myself over to a hedonistic lifestyle of methamphetamine addiction, sexual immorality, and a multitude of other self-centered interests. All the meanwhile my mind became darker as the bonds of my addict lifestyle thickened and tightened, mangling my spirit. It was just as Jesus says in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices disobedience to God is a slave to disobedience.”
Even though I had overshot the life I set out for by leaps and bounds, there was absolutely no sense of autonomy with even less hope. I knew that I was missing” something,”, that I was not whole, and I was trying to fill the void with all the wrong stuff. Thankfully, while struggling for hope in that darkness I had a random encounter with a woman as I was running errands in Hollywood, CA in July of 2004. Her presence beamed hope. In retrospect, I now know that the Holy Spirit was brimming through her. She politely asked if I had a minute to spare because she had “something” to share with me. I responded, “Sure why not.”
The woman shared the gospel of Christ with me. I accepted Christ’s offer. That day a stranger on the streets of Hollywood lead me in the prayer that rescued me from despair, renewed my spirit, and changed the course of my life for eternity. In just a matter of days I developed a spiritual hunger for things of God. Specifically, I began attending Bible studies and church services on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, the church I began attending was in my neighborhood, on my daily path. I had passed it a thousand times previously without giving it a thought. At any rate, by November of 2004 I was head over heels in love with Yahweh. More importantly, I became aware of the reality that I had not yet submitted to Christ’s lordship.
The story of Jesus encounter with the rich young ruler weighed heavy on my thoughts. Over the years I had amassed a small fortune of stuff, was successfully crossing over from adult to mainstream entertainment, lived in great neighborhood (#Hollywoodlove), and had many deep relationships with people I loved. Unfortunately, it was all grounded in an identity that was not reconcilable to a life in Christ. Jesus’s call to follow Him out of that life was loud and clear.
So in November of 2004, I made a 180 turn away from that wicked lifestyle and yielded to Christ’s authority. To do otherwise at that point would have been tantamount to rejecting God and consciously choosing to serve Satan, who I had come to know as the plague of heaven and earth. I chose to trust Jesus’s lead which meant walking away from a well-established network of friends, business associates, and opportunities.
Early on I clearly discerned the power and value of a credible testimony of God’s power to transform lives. So I began to pray regularly pray for God to grow, protect, and, most of all, for opportunities to encourage others with my testimony. As my testimony stands, God started my life over from ground zero in November 2004. Daily Bible study, meditations, prayer, and regular participation in ministry keep me on track with Him, i.e. no backsliding into drug addiction, homosexuality, nor fornication. Also, I have been attending the Shoreline Church of San Clemente since May 2005, earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Biola University, and nearly completed the Master of Divinity at Talbot theological seminary. Plus, in my instance, God has also restored to me a stronger attraction to women. Even more, God has blessed me with the desire to be a husband and father. This is a miracle in itself, being a husband and father never crossed my mind before my life in Christ. Praise God!
In closing, my life is still has its fair share of pains and challenges. There is no escaping the fact that life is complicated. Jesus Christ liberated me from slavery to a hedonistic lifestyle in order that I could become obedient to His ways. In my experience, obedience has been a heavy load, while light at the same time. Aside from being in love with Yah, there is a mysterious deep abiding peace and joy in Christ that make it all worth it.
- May we have permission to share information (from questions 1-3) with donors or on the Talbot website for the future benefit of other students? (We would check with you first before doing so.)
- Please describe your current financial need. Discuss your current debt load, the reason for having debt versus other possible means, and the perceived effect of this debt upon your future ministry goals.
Presently, my financial need for 2016-2017 is $12,750, i.e., the tuition of twelve units, Metrolink commute, and partial living costs, with an outstanding debt load of $39,117. The reason I have debt is that, after much prayer, I received the strong impression from God, which was affirmed by several of my God-fearing mentors, that the next immediate step for me after completing my Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership in 2011 was to enter a seminary program for further ministry preparation. After even more prayer, my conviction was to give seminary priority by working just enough to cover basic living expenses in order to not completely depend on student loans.
In other words, I have a “mountain” of debt because I am not capable of financially covering the costs of this brand of formal ministry preparation by any other means than loans. Having said that, I willingly stepped into this challenge because I have faith that just as God lead me to this “mountain,” He will also provide means to conquer it in ways that deepen my faith and strengthen my character. If anything, I most often consider my current indebtedness as one of the wisest investments, aside from trusting in Christ, towards eternity that I have ever made..
Concerning the perceived effect on this debt upon future ministry goals, the outstanding balance weighs in heavy on every ministry decision I consider. First and foremost, the last thing I want to do is inadvertently fleece a flock to pay a debt I incurred with the intention of building them up. The next to last thing I want to do is burden someone else with this load in extremely close quarters, i.e, I do not see myself ministering with a wife anytime soon. Therefore, I most often consider, by God’s grace, practicing entrepreneurial models of post-Christendom Church models as a bachelor. Praise God.
- Are you working while going through school? Please describe the relationship between working and going to school at the same time, in terms of time and financial obligation.
Yes, by God’s grace, I have been working all the meanwhile I have been going through school. In terms of time, I have been fortunate enough to work with teams who have been extremely flexible when it comes to my formal education pursuits. Thankfully, I have been able to get time off when needed for course work and, on occasion, more paid hours to cover unexpected living expenses. In terms of financial obligation, until recently,the group I currently work with has generously covered some tuition costs over the years while offering me enough work to cover my boarding and most of my living expenses. Praise God.