A Christmas Message from Al Tizon
I would like to give you a family update and my personal accent to some of ESA’s ministry highlights of 2013.
Graduations, Empty Nest and Praxis House
With the graduation of Zoey, our youngest daughter, from high school, our kids have all flown the coup. Yep, Janice and I are empty nesters now . . . sort of. I’ll explain in a moment. As Zoey begins her college career at North Park University in Chicago majoring in global studies, her older sister Corrie is finishing up this December from Vanguard University of Southern California with a degree in anthropology. Our son Christian continues to advance in his musical career, making a splash in the local Philly scene. Check out his music at http://www.reverbnation.com/sapsounds. But not to be undone, their sister Candace, the oldest of the brood who followed in our footsteps by marrying early, plugged away at college and finished a degree in early childhood education this past May. And if that wasn’t enough, she is now en route to finishing up her Master’s degree. Super kids! Needless to say, Janice and I are very proud of each of them. Oh, and Candace, hubby Edwin, and their two boys Julian and Calen are expecting an addition to their tribe in April.
Now back to the proverbial “empty nest.” As metaphor, it works because we do feel their absence and at times mope around the house wishing they were here. But as reality, our nest is hardly empty, as Praxis House—a community of students from Palmer Seminary of Eastern University where I teach—continues to grow in our home. There are 8 of us altogether; add a toddler and a Great Dane, and the house is pretty full!
Praxis House (some of you will recall that “Praxis” was the name of our newsletter when we were serving in the Philippines) is an intentional Christian community through which we strive to understand in practice how to be followers of Jesus by sharing life together and learning what it means to serve a lost and needy world together. Practically, it gives Janice and me an opportunity to mentor students in a way that goes beyond programs and classrooms, while at the same time keeping us on our toes and changing too. For those of you who’ve known us these last 30+ years, you would know that Praxis House is a natural outgrowth of our longstanding conviction that effective, faithful, radical mission is best done in and through authentic community, something the New Testament calls koinonia. ESA has committed with me and Janice to cultivate this ministry.
On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Radical Love Made Visible
Janice continues faithfully to serve the underprivileged as family nurse practitioner par excellence at the Esperanza Health Center, a full-service clinic that has actually multiplied to three sites in the inner-city. Janice is at the Kensington-Alleghany site, one of the most impoverished sections of Philadelphia.
In July, ESA celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was a special time as founding President Dr. Ronald J. Sider gave his farewell speech (after he was at once roasted and honored by the likes of Tony Campolo, Dean Trulear, Heidi Unruh and others) and as my partner-in-crime Dr. Paul Alexander and I were installed as the new leaders (co-presidents) of ESA. Check out amazthe book that Paul and I put together entitled Following Jesus: Journeys in Radical Discipleship to honor Ron, our mentor and friend.
Paul and I have been working tirelessly, along with our faithful staff, to discern the next 40 years of this small but influential organization in helping the church BE the church in a desperately needy world. We decided to steal a part of Jesus’ prayer, “. . . on earth as it is in heaven” as our new vision statement. To strive in the Spirit to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven—doing justice in a world of economic and racial injustice, loving mercy in a world of suffering peoples, and walking humbly in a world of belligerence, arrogance and uncivil discourse is ESA’s reason-for-being. The second half of our vision statement, “radical love made visible” refers practically to our new commitment to do all we do in and through the church, the visible expression of the kingdom of God on earth. Our vision is this: you and me and the whole body of Christ doing God’s will of peace, justice and salvation in our communities and beyond.
The Philippines and Elsewhere
The Philippines has been in the news again. Gruesome pictures of the devastation inflicted by Typhoon Yolanda reminded me of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo when we were serving there. My heart has been heavy and my mouth full of groans too deep for words as my kababayan, fellow Filipinos, are forced once again to endure great suffering. In addition to our prayers, ESA has been pointing people to give support for relief and rehabilitation through MEANS USA, which channels our support to “ESA-approved” organizations on the ground in the Philippines working directly and holistically with those in great need.
The ministry I find myself in requires quite a bit of travel. I’m leading a church group in early January to Bangalore, India to help out in a ministry to street kids, and I’m also guest lecturing at the South Asian Institute for Advanced Christian Studies also in Bangalore. Later on in the year, I also travel to Seoul, Korea to speak at the Stott-Bediako Forum, an annual gathering of scholar-practitioners from the around the world to discuss issues that are crucial to the work of the gospel. Please pray for travelling mercies and effective ministry.
Partnering with Us
Please pray with and for us as we “’aid and abet’ the body of Christ to practice holistic ministry, speak truth to power, and transform culture through education and activism in solidarity with those who are impoverished, oppressed, and marginalized.” And if you are so led to support us financially, you can give online. All donations are tax deductible. A gift of $500 or more will include you in our “Circle of Generous Christians,” a small group of supporters who help ESA live out the vision. If you have any questions or comments about what we and/or ESA are up to, please don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com or call me at 484-384-2979.
Wishing you a beautiful, meaningful, life-changing, Jesus-filled Christmas to you and yours.