My Journey as a Missionary in Destino

Help! My Students Are Not Showing Up!

Oh that moment when you see the attendance drop in the middle of the semester. No one likes it. I sure don’t. I remember viciously texting students to check if they were coming to a meeting (this is our first error, we think that the main meeting is everything, IT’S NOT). One by one, they would mention they had to study or do homework or catch up with something. Now, you and I know that sometimes there is a good chance that they could have actually made the time for it if they had sacrificed other things. It’s easy to take this personally or to dismiss them as not truly committed. I am asking you to not do this.

Sometimes it’s really not about school. Sometimes it’s something deeper, like feeling inadequate, or conflicts at home, etc (or really they were just playing games with faith); but sometimes it really is about school! And rather than criticizing, or worse, ignoring this, congratulate them for their dedication. Yes, literally thank them for taking the time to focus on their academics. “I am glad you are choosing to focus on academics for now. By all means, go for that, I can help explain why you are missing in the meetings. Would you be willing to meet for one hour for lunch though? I would appreciate that”.

In the long run, students appreciate this, and just as you support them when they were busy, they will support you when their time frees up. You may see smaller turnout now, but a bigger turnout with more faithfulness later. If it seems they are “faithful” yet, then you be faithful to them, to their growth, to their pace; remember not all students will be at the level where you expect them, but as you remain faithful, you model this for them, and in turn, they will become faithful to the movement.

As I Am Learning to Drive in the U.S.

This is a somewhat vulnerable post. *Sigh*

I recently received a social security number, a work permit, a vehicle, and a driving permit. All these by the providence of my God. All of them gifts and proof of His faithfulness. Some of you know this part of my story, some of you don’t. Let me summarize; up until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t work legally, or drive legally (Side note: I am cautious of that word… “legally”. Would you take away from a man or woman’s dignity to do work? Maybe that should be illegal?). And now that I can, I find myself navigating through an unknown, new world.

As I was opening up to my brothers a few nights ago, I shared with them this same thing, and I pointed out the following: “I am now learning how to drive and how to keep a vehicle well *chuckle in the room* and so, I am exploring this new area of life. And here is what I want to bring up: Sure. Most of you probably grew up without worrying about the possibility of driving. Not me.I didn’t have someone to guide me through that. I am learning a bit late compared to all of you, and while I don’t take any or most of your jokes/teases personally, neither do they edify me. So yeah, you can support me through this time if you would like to, but if you tease me, don’t expect an applause”

That changed things. Their behavior has been spectacular, and as I meditated about this, I think of how this applies to ministry and caring.

Who is that guy or girl exploring a new area in his faith? Is she not willing to take risks right away? That’s okay. Part of ministry and caring is patience. More than once,  I have become impatient with students who would hesitate to go to a Destino retreat or conference “especially after everything I had done for them”. That’s like an instructor or friend becoming impatient because at my age, I am still working to match speeds at the freeway with other cars. It’s not my age that’s the problem, it’s that I had been at it for only a short time, about three weeks. In the same manner, we cannot hold them for standards we have set for ourselves.

I’ll be a good, really good, safe driver who maneuvers through all sorts of roads, but it will take some time. In the same manner, it will take our students some time to achieve the greatness we want to see in them. In the meantime… pray; not just for them to change, but for you to change; not just for them to lead, but for how you can serve them; not just for them to go to the project, retreat, or conference you want them to, but to love them when they don’t.

Let’s end this by committing to keep a promise to our students that God makes to all of us. If we stick to this promise to the best of our ability, our movement will so greatly flourish that there will be no doubt that only our great God can do this:

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"

My First Year In Destino Staff

I love Destino. I have lived some of my best moments in the midst of my brothers and sisters from this ongoing movement. I have seen lives change. I have seen students enter relationships, even engage and get married. I have seen depressions go away and relationships be restored. I have seen students honoring their parents more, and sibling relationships grow in depth. I really believe this movement can change the world. But to change the world, how we lead and serve in the movement must be in accordance with certain principles. I think I am learning some of them. If for a moment I had the ears, minds, and hearts of every Destino student and staff in the nation, these are some things I would share with them:

1. It’s A Student-led Movement: We hear this a lot, but we often don’t work as if it is true. Chances are that 99% of the time, students know the campus better. They know how the students think, they know what students want to hear, they know what turns them on and off, they know the settings that would work and what will not. A lot of them just haven’t put thought and action based on their knowledge. Our job as staff - it seems to me - is to help our students think (not tell), and recognize that though it’d be easier if staff led a Bible Study,or do a talk, or organize an event, it’s more sustaining, empowering, and multiplying to trust the students with more and more things. From my observation, the best staff comes alongside and says “You know better (even if the student doesn’t), and I want to trust your leadership (even if the student doesn’t think he or she has leadership), what do you think will work best? I’m here to help you make it happen, but you lead the way”. The best staff resists the temptation to solve problems for students, to speak up more than students, to lead the way. Suggested question: “What do we (staff) need to fire ourselves of doing?” or “What am I doing that should be done by a student?”

2. It’s Okay To Make Friends Before Making Disciples: My biggest regret as a student is that I tried to make someone a disciple before making him a friend. If I could do it all over again, I would ask a bazillion questions and invest time together as friends even as we together explore how to follow Jesus. Some may not really care how much we know, until they know how much we care. So rather than jumping into all the lessons we want to share, how about taking a few days to ask questions and listen? “What is their family-life like? What is it like (for many) to be the first in their family to go to college? Is there a girl/guy in his/her life (this is not a taboo topic, it’s important!)? What draws them to Destino? What would draw them away? What is in their mind a lot in these days? How can we serve you? Do you know how to find scholarships? financial aid? Roommate issues?” These questions may not be “spiritual”, but they are important, and if they are important to them, they should be important to you. Suggested Question: “How can I better serve this person?”

3. Every Student Is A Leader: In an event that we are organizing at CSULB, four of the students “leading” the event are not in the “leadership team”. Someone just said “I trust your judgment. You lead it. You have freedom to do as you will, just keep this and that mind. I am already proud of you”. Sure, some students will be a bit uncomfortable when challenged; but it’s better to uncomfortable for a bit, than to live with unrealized potential during their college years, or even their entire lives. I am not saying that every student should disciple another, but I am all for every student involved (believer or not, committed or not) to serve in one way or another. If you get them to serve, you get them to commit. Maybe they can be the ones who bless the food in the next meal, or the ones to welcome everyone. And it doesn’t have to be a role for the rest of semester/quarter. It could be a one-time event. Here is a random fact: I didn’t want to join Destino, some guy just insisted until I did one small thing for them (sit through a meeting), and the rest is history. Suggested Question: “Who can be a bit challenged that hasn’t yet?”

4. Talk About the Difficult Topics: Immigration. Sexual abuse. Low self-esteem. Image problems. Broken relationships. Absent parents. Fear to trust. These are all real. We don’t gain anything by ignoring them. Sure, Hermeneutics and the Mystery of the Trinity are mega-important, but so are their immediate needs. Before they know about assurance of salvation, maybe they need to know that God still thinks they are worth fighting and dying for, even though someone on earth didn’t think so. We don’t need more informed students, we need more faithful ones. Yes, it may pull us away from a set conventional model, but I find that in Destino… sometimes a bit of unconventional and sensitivity to the leading of the Spirit is far more effective. Suggest Question: “What issues are relevant to our movement right now?”

5. Look For The Marginalized: Such a strong word… marginalized. It’s not like any of us intentionally put others down (at least for the most part), but all of us can unintentionally do it. What does marginalized look like? It takes different forms. It can be the most quiet person. The person who shows up and very few pay attention to. It’s the one that is likely to have self-image problems. The one that gets picked on (even though it’s “just teasing”). For some of us, it’s the Catholic guy or girl in our movement. It may be the darkest, or even the whitest. It’s the person with the strong accent, or the one who is most privileged. Marginalization doesn’t recognize boundaries. It will eat your movement alive if you don’t catch it. Here is a good question to ask among teams: “Who are we not noticing enough?” Or if you are a team leader, maybe you can ask a friend/girlfriend/spouse “Am I or my team excluding someone?”. Tough questions do wonders for your movement. Suggested Question: (All of the above)

6. Conversations Are Better than Surveys/Flyers: This may just be my experience, but here is what happened the first time tabling for Destino as a student leader. We gave otter pops away and asked if students would take a survey. Granted, one of our first mistakes is that we talked to everyone we could, not just Latin@s. Otter pops don’t really target Latin@s alone; giving horchata is a better option (or any recognized drink particular to the Latin@s your region). The second mistake was that we were so focused on giving surveys that we forgot that conversations are more powerful. Better 20 good conversations than 200 surveys and flyers. You have better chances of them trusting you enough to want to come back. Conversations have faces to them, surveys do not. Conversations help you see through the person, surveys mostly don’t. Conversations build trust, flyers merely build curiosity. Train your movement to have great conversations if you wanted to recruit; after all, chances are they will receive dozens of flyers. We need to stand out. Suggested question: “How can we have better conversations in this setting?”

 7. Create Environments For Providential Relationships: Think about your movement for a second… who do people come for? Almost never do they come for the speaker. Sorry to disappoint you. For the most part, students come because they know somebody. Knowing and trusting somebody in the group (that’s why it’s so important to build trust when recruiting!). Someone they know and a relevant topic addressing a need are a powerful combination. If you want students to stay, create environments where it’s easy to make friends and mentoring/discipleship relationships. Sit in circles, not in rows. Circles talk, rows don’t. Have social events. Send them in pairs to share their faith. Connect them to local churches. Introduce students with similar majors. It all helps. Suggested Question: “How can we create an environment where it’s easy to connect and make friends?”

Those are some principles I try to practice. Hope they blessed you. 1. What do you think about them? 2. What about you? What are your principles? I promise you that if you share some in the comments, I will show your contribution to my team and maybe you can bless us in that way.

Reaching the iStudent


I’ll admit it. I like - really, really like - my gadgets. I like my tablet, my smartphone, my laptop. I carry my earbuds almost everywhere I go. I barely ever rent movies at a store, I just stream them live off the internet. Newspapers? All the news I read are online. Magazines? They are also on versions for my tablet. In short, in order to consume information, I rarely need to depart from these familiar devices.

And the crazy thing is… I am not alone.

Try this experiment: Walk any college campus and count how many students you see walking with 1) their smartphones on hand 2) their earbuds on 3) typing on their tablets. You’ll be surprised. And the question that remains is: When does anyone make time to listen to God? I mean, we read our Bible verses on a smartphone today during Church service! (guilty as charged over here).

So, I want to offer an option: The problem is not that students use technology today for almost everything, it’s that we haven’t adapted this idea and use it for the glory of our Lord. Technology is really meant to make your life simpler, not busier and noisier. Technology was made for man, and not man for technology. And ultimately (this will offend some Church goers), God approves and encourages technology. It brings Him glory.

So rather than fight what technology has done, INSTRUCT the students you lead on how to make good use of the technology they are blessed with. More importantly, DISPLAY this for them. When it comes time to simplify your life, use your gadgets. But when it comes time to listen to and be with the Lord, then set all gadgets apart, and be with your Lord. For I assure you, no gadget in the world, no matter how revolutionary it is, will never compare to His infinite glory.

… If you can show that to your students, technology will serve them, not master them.

francis chan: NO WAY!!!!!!!


Many of you have heard the story of what happened a year ago when we decided to do a conference here in San Francisco… In short, we were going to have hundreds of people show up in the inner city to pass out thousands of meals to the poor and homeless. A few days before the conference, the…

Soo good!! :)

What I Don’t Want From MPD

For those of you who don’t know. I will be working with DESTINO as a staff/missionary for the upcoming year. I am writing a post on why I am doing it (will publish soon). Today, I explain what I DON’T want from this process.

Working as a missionary with DESTINO requires that you find partners that will support you financially and through prayer. The amount required is a good amount. Needless to say, it’s difficult. There are encouraging days and discouraging days. But one thing prevails: My heart is being transformed.

You see,  as difficult as it is to be told no and to even ask for partnership, I could say to myself “suck it up and get moving”, but that would be shallow. As I go through raising my support, I realize that far more important than the money (though, it is very important!) is what God wants to do in my heart. There are things He wants to do with it. He wants to cleanse it. He wants to make it like His.

And my words to Him are these “I am willing”. I will not go through this without facing the things God wants me to face. I must. I am way too interested in becoming like my Savior to not face what He wants me to face. On that note, would you pray for me? I need it so much. And would you also, whether I know you or not, consider partnering with me? I give you word that I am here to change the world… but of course, I first have to allow God to change me. 

Tell the young, tell the poor, tell the aged, tell the ignorant, tell the sick, tell the dying — tell them all about Christ. Tell them of His power, and tell them of His love; tell them of His doings, and tell them of His feelings; tell them what He has done for the chief of sinners; tell them what He is willing to do until the last day of time; tell it to them over and over again. Never be tired of speaking of Christ. Say to them broadly and fully, freely and unconditionally, unreservedly and undoubtingly, ‘Come unto Christ, as the penitent thief did; come unto Christ, and you shall be saved.’

—J.C. Ryle

More Important Than ‘Christian’

There is a reason why two Christians can disagree in very fundamental issues, go to war against each other, put each other down, and accuse each other of wrong theology. All the while non-followers of Jesus look at that and wonder “Are they not both Christians?” The reason is this: The word Christian has no definition in the Bible. What?… Correct, no definition. In fact, the word Christian only appears three times in the Bible.

"…So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11:26

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’" Acts 26:28

"However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." - 1 Peter 4:16

The name “Christian” was given to the followers of Jesus (first at Antioch) by outsiders. It was a name given to them, as opposed to created by them. It was a derogatory statement, as if saying “Ugh.. you Christians”. It was an obscure cult. Being called a “Christian” in this culture was not praise; it was all the opposite. That’s what you see in the first and second verse. Then later, the early Church embraced this name and, by Peter’s leading, they were willing to suffer by it.

Now… what then did the followers of Jesus call themselves? What they called themselves is a name far scarier, far more compromising; they couldn’t hide behind it. They called themselves… disciples - someone who wanted to become and live like the person they followed. In this case, Jesus. A disciple is someone who wants to become and live like Jesus.

I ask now, before we are Christians, or Catholics, or Mormons, etc…. can we be… disciples? Friends, we can call ourselves any of the above, but if we are not disciples, it really doesn’t matter what name we give ourselves. On the other hand, if we are disciples, we have won it all. I am not suggesting that starting today you call yourself a disciple and drop any of the names.. but I am exhorting you to become a disciple… at the very core of your heart, your identity is being a disciple of Christ. If you will boast, boast in that, not in your particular religion. 

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us”. But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side” - Luke 9:49-50