Financial stewardship // SAUP 2016 week 6

Learning about stewarding our food well at the Farmer's Market! 

Learning about stewarding our food well at the Farmer's Market! 

When I think of stewardship, I think of The Lord of the Rings. If you don’t understand where I’m getting this from, hang tight for a small crash course on Middle Earth politics. In the land of Gondor, the descendants of the past King were absent and a Steward was set to take care of the kingdom. Though he did not have the same authority of the King, the Steward was able to govern the realm in the same capacity. In the same way that the Steward of Gondor was using the King’s resources to preserve the Kingdom, we Christians can also steward to not only preserve the Kingdom of God, but to further it. For this discussion, I will mainly be talking about financial stewardship.

After coming off of our week on justice, I was curious to see how exactly to utilize what I possessed in order to increase the Kingdom of God. I was especially interested in how my finances would affect the injustice in the world since I would be starting a paid internship with an engineering firm in the Fall semester. During this week of learning, one idea stuck to my brain: giving generously.

Giving has always been a hard topic to discuss growing up. Both my Mom and Dad grew up in poverty in both Malaysia and Hong Kong respectively and would always tell me to be prudent with how much to spend and what to spend it on. When it came to giving from my own paycheck, my parents adamantly opposed me giving money away. A proverb they told me constantly was to “live like a poor person”. Although I was taught to hold on to my money tightly, I saw how God was calling his people to give generously and to live simply. Seeing that, I decided that with my upcoming internship, I needed to allow God to have more control over my finances.

As an Asian American Christian, the issue of obeying God’s call to stewardship and honoring my parents would prove to be difficult. It seemed like if I obeyed God’s call to give, I would be dishonoring my parents and if I honored my parent’s wishes to withhold my finances, I would be disobeying God. After talking to different people and praying to God, I formulated a simple budget in which I would both honor God and my parents.

The basic principles of my budget are to save money, give generously, and live simply. I’m planning on saving 50% of my budget so that my parents will be honored. 30% will be given in the form of tithing and other forms of giving (donations to charities). 10% will be sent back to my parents. 7-8% will be used for necessities such as food, transportation, and clothing. 2-3% will be free to use how I wish (Rent is covered by company). By cutting down on what I don’t need and reducing what I need already, I am able to give more while still honoring my parents by saving and sending money to them.

Stewardship is not an isolated act, but a continual act of dependence on the Lord. My first day as an intern will require me to walk faithfully with God as I leave SAUP and enter into a new chapter of my life. Though this budget is not perfect, my hope is it will, as well as my whole life, be more indicative of God’s love for the world.

Lucas Cheung
Texas A&M




Our hope in Jesus // SAUP week 5

Learning about God's hope through community transformation on the West side.

Learning about God's hope through community transformation on the West side.

Just a few days ago, we listened to a talk by one of the Intervarsity staff. She was speaking about the Gospel, and how God's kingdom on earth (which is here right now!) is a kingdom of justice, where the poor, the orphan, and the foreigner are cared for, and the privileged, wealthy, and powerful steward their resources, knowing that they earned them only by God's grace. Jesus identified, owned, and overcame our sin, and because of that, we are freed from personal, relational, and systemic sin. She said, "Living in the kingdom means that justice is available to all. Jesus gave his life to save people's lives, and that includes alleviating injustice."

In order to meditate on this hope, we were challenged this week to share stories of hope from our lives with each other and with friends at our ministry sites.  But the best hope stories I heard this week, by far, were from my friend Martin who lives on the East side.

Ten years ago, Martin was working as a paleta (popsicle) seller on his bike, when he was robbed at gunpoint.  He gave over everything he had, but as he rode away, he was shot in the neck. Martin was paralyzed from the next down and is now wheelchair-bound.  But since then, Martin has discovered the love and provision of Christ, and he told this story to our church on the East side, La Luz en El Barrio, as a testimony to the power of God's Word.  God took a situation that was hopeless in the world's eyes and used it to bring hope to me, our church and the East side community.

Claire Steinman
Trinity University

Throughout SAUP, we have engaged with a variety of topics that have been enlightening and challenging.  This week, we continued to explore justice and hope as we live in solidarity with the impoverished.

I realized the individual responsibility that we all have in perpetuating injustice as well as the choice we have to partner with God in order to help with the restoration process.  

The root of injustice is sin and sin manifests in three areas - personal, relational and systemic.  Personal is individual brokenness which then influences your connections with God and others.  These impacted relationships then contribute to the culture and society resulting in systemic issues.  For example, we discussed human trafficking and traced its roots to personal sin.  It begins with someone lusting or dealing with anger - evolving to sexual immorality between people and the objectification of women - and then leads to the global trafficking ring.

While it's convicting and hard coming to terms with the personal responsibility we have to the growing injustice of the world, I was encouraged by the message of hope and restoration that Jesus brings in the suffering servant passage - Isaiah 42.  We looked at the characteristics of the servant, Jesus, whose role was / is to bring people out of their darkness (justice).  He embodies characteristics such as being chosen by God, single-minded, devoted, humble, tenacious, nurturing, calm and strives to bring God glory.  

As a Christian and follower of Jesus, these are characteristics I strive to cultivate in my life in order to love and serve others well.  I desire change in the world and want to say yes to partnering with Christ to be His servant that brings restoration.  SAUP has shown me that injustice has faces.  Injustice is personal.  But so is the solution.  Hope is personal.  Hope is real.  May we continue to strive upwards and onwards.

Kathryn Hong
Baylor UNITE

Reflection & Reconciliation // SAUP week 4

Throughout SAUP we have been challenged with different topics from community to justice to reconciliation.  I would say that my perspective and understanding of these topics has been broadened.

To me, reconciliation is one of those buzzwords that has been thrown around a lot, especially as a student of InterVarsity.  I think many people, myself included, often times unintentionally use the word reconcile when they actually just mean forgiveness.  The two are similar, but I think that reconciliation is forgiveness to the next level.  Reconciliation includes a forgiveness of others AND a clean perspective of the scenario at hand.  There are no grudges in true reconciliation.  

To truly reconcile, we need to look at the three ways we are connected to this world.  The first is personally.  It is only in Christ that we can personally forgive ourselves of the hurt and pain that we have given and have received.  There is so much hope in 2 Corinthians 5:16,17 because those in Christ are new creations!  In Him we are freed from sin.  In Him, we are freed from fear and our shortcomings.  Christ says His love controls us and doesn't regard us according to the flesh.

From this, our personal reconciliation can overflow into our relationships.  The same way we view ourselves in Christ is the way we should view others around us.  They too are not just their flesh, they too have nothing to fear if they share their struggles with us and they too can have this love from Christ if they are willing.  The way we view our relationships should change so that we hold nothing against anyone.  

Finally, we need to reconcile ourselves to the systems of this world.  Whether it is racism or poverty, we cannot simply stand on the sidelines and wait for someone to enter the battle.  God wants us to be the ones spreading this message of reconciliation and the Gospel according to 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.  So instead of just observing these injustices, God wants our hearts to hurt for the pain being experienced in unnecessary shootings, underpaid labor and broken families.  Hopefully, this pain in our hearts would lead us to action.  However, we must remember that we only act because we remember God's actions of love and God's reconciliation to us.  Only then are our actions meaningful and we truly believe that His love and reconciliation are worth sharing.

David Jante
University of Houston

When I first heard that we were going to talk about reconciliation, in my head, I was like "Oh, hmm, I don't really hold grudges and I don't think there are people that I need to reconcile with, so this week should be pretty peaceful, yay!"  Little did I know, God had something else in store and told me not to be foolish.  

Throughout the week, I had time to reflect about my past and I realized that I have actually experienced more hurt that I expected.  After one session where we learned more about forgiveness, I asked God to reveal to me the people I needed to forgive in my life, and suddenly, all these feelings from the past kept coming to my mind.  That was when I realized that deep down, I  had never really extended forgiveness to them.  I was puzzled.  I thought I was over the pain and that I had moved on.  I started digging deeper and deeper, trying to find the root and the reason for the hurt.  Through prayer and advice from staff, I found the answer.  All these years, I have been forgiving people out of my own will.  I forgave them so I could feel better about myself.  I forgave because I wanted to be free of the pain and hurt.  But truthfully, I have just been shoving all of these feelings into a box and putting a temporary lock on the box.  The pain and the hurt were still there.  I was just avoiding it and had not experienced true healing.  

I've learned that one can only forgive when we truly understand that God has forgiven us and empowers us to forgive others.  We personally don't have the resources to forgive.  Through God, we will find true healing for ourselves and are able to forgive others that have hurt us.  After understanding this true narrative and truly letting God into my heart, I was able to slowly extend grace upon the people who have hurt me in the past.  It took a lot of prayer and time to do so, but after I did it, I felt a huge sense of relief.  My heart, my mind, and my soul were all at peace.  That was the moment I started my reconciliation journey.  I am currently still in the process of healing, but now that I've learned that God has given us all a message of reconciliation when He reconciled the world to Himself, I am able to confront myself and the people who have hurt me with the ability to forgive. 

Jane Yeong
Texas A&M AAIV

Experiencing Injustice // SAUP week 3

Night of Lament for injustice in the world, SAUP 2016

Night of Lament for injustice in the world, SAUP 2016

Why?  Why do bad things happen?  During the week of exploring justice, this was the question running through my mind and still does sometimes.  We learned about the working poor, immigrants and the homeless community and were given the opportunity to learn and experience more about each group.  I learned more about the homeless community because I already knew some information on the working poor and immigrants since my parents were part of both.  

I remember being scared that my parents would be taken away from me or that we wouldn't have enough money for dinner because of those situations that were at hand.  I was the only one in my immediate family born in the U.S., so I always felt I would be left alone.  The feeling of loneliness really hit home this week because it made me realize how much more the homeless community lives in isolation.  When I was walking around communities where the homeless congregate in San Antonio, most people were alone, without anyone.  When people asked me how I was taking everything in regarding the homeless community, I was at a loss for words.  I felt like I was wearing a pair of sunglasses that kept blocking the light from me that Jesus intended for me to see.  

After I got the chance to debrief with a staff, I was able to see God's promises at work in all His people  I was able to see the hope and joy through trials and tribulations.  Everyone has their own set of troubles, and we are here to show that light is possible to attain.  God is not doing the injustice, instead, He is waiting for us to do something about those injustices.

Dhara Patel
Texas A&M Thrive