I am 100% Filipino. Well, I say that but there’s definitely Chinese and Spanish blood flowing through my veins. My parents migrated from the motherland with my brother and two sisters. I was born several months later in Chicago where we lived until I was 5.
Next stop, Elmhurst, a former German settlement due west of the Loop. Elmhurst is actually older than Chicago. I went through the normal awkwardness of being the new kid at school. Add to that, I had glasses in kindergarten, (duhh, I’m Asian, I was born nearsighted) I was incredibly shy, and did I mention I’m Asian…in a very conservative, white suburb at the tail end of the Vietnam War? Needless to say, I had more than my fair share of racist encounters including many fights.
Feeling very much alone, I grew even more introverted. Family relationships weren’t that strong and I began to bury myself in schoolwork. Early on in middle school, I had my first experience with alcohol. Then my second, third…you get the idea. It became my escape. Now God was always a “priority” for me; rather I didn’t want to go to hell so I gave Him the time to get by. We were religious but never understood the consequences of sin or about God’s unconditional love and Christ’s sacrifice. It was a constant battle of trying to do more good things than bad things. So, I was becoming a smart, bitter, religious alcoholic.
My life was forever transformed when I turned 15. It was the day before Easter and my sister’s came home for the weekend. After dinner, they began to share with me about how Christ had changed their lives, forgiving them of their sins, and now they were totally different. I wanted what they were talking about! While trying to sleep, I got down on my knees, asking God to make me clean, to remove the guilt, and to help me to allow Him to be my Lord and Savior. Two years later, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit during a conference downtown. All along the way, my sisters Eileen and Natasha have been my biggest supporters and encouragement.
Writing was always one of my greatest passions. Well, that and arguing so I wanted to be a lawyer too. I already had my life planned out: get a degree in journalism then go to law school so I could get my corner office in a Chicago firm, drive a blue BMW, build a 2 story, 3 car garage sandstone house in Naperville with 2.7 kids hooked on Ritalin. I decided to go to the University of Illinois, getting degrees in Political Science and History.
God had different plans, giving me a passion to continue working with college students for the past 24 years. Now my ministry journey is changing, working more with the underserved of our community. My focus now becomes living out my relationship with Christ to help people internalize their dignity, utilize their ability, and recognize God as their security.
It’s hard to believe the paths God has taken me down but it’s definitely been a wild journey. I praise God for His wonderful patience, mercy, grace and love…among so many other things.
To be continued…