Exciting News, #2: Speaking & Support

Happy New Year, friends!

I hope you were all able to get some rest over the Christmas season. On Day Three of 2013, you get Part Two in the “Exciting News for 2013” series. (Yeah, there’s still more to come!)

First, I’m eagerly anticipating more speaking opportunities these first few months, in addition to preaching at The District Church:

  1. I’ll be guest preaching at Downtown Baptist Church in Old Town Alexandria, just across the Potomac River, this month (Jan 27); and at New Journey Church in Centreville, VA, next month (Feb 17).
  2. lstIn March, I’ll be back in the UK for a couple weeks for a friend’s wedding, and I’ll be returning to my alma mater, London School of Theology, seven years after graduation, and I’ll get to give the message at chapel.
  3. MA-Logo-Horizontal-300x225And in April, I’ll be co-leading a couple of workshops at the inaugural conference of Missio Alliance, a gathering that explores that church’s mission in the 21st century. One workshop will be on ministry in the city, and another on the church’s call to justice.

Second, I’m already so grateful for how you’ve given: I’ve already raised over $3,000! I’ve set the goal to have the rest raised by the end of January, so …

Will you partner with me to raise the remaining $7,000 I need to meet my 2013 budget?

You’re welcome to do this:

  • by check, payable to “The District Church” with “For the Ministry of Justin Fung” in the memo, and mailed to The District Church, PO Box 3116, Washington, DC 20010;
  • online here, selecting “Ministry of JF” from the dropdown menu.

[All gifts are fully tax-deductible.]

And if you’re part of The District Church and you’ve been supporting me, thank you first of all–I’ve appreciated your focused giving so much–but let me now encourage you to give directly to the church, with the reassurance that they’re working toward fully supporting me financially.

Praying your 2013 begins well with grace and intentionality,
Justin.

Support The Sold Project

My friend Rachel is in DC this week. Rachel is a pretty extraordinary woman; notwithstanding the fact that she was one of my first friends in seminary, she’s super smart, capable, and has a tremendous heart. So much so that for the last few years, she’s been serving as the President of an organization called The SOLD Project, which seeks to prevent child prostitution and whose goal is “that no child ever be exposed to a life of exploitation.”

One of the main ways to do this is through education, and keeping kids in school so that they might not only learn and grow and develop, but also to reduce the likelihood of them being in at-risk situations. So in 2008, The SOLD Project began offering educational scholarships, and I’m so pleased that, for the last year, I’ve gotten to be a part of this by sponsoring a kid’s education.

Now you can help prevent child prostitution as well.

From the latest SOLD email:

“From November 1 to 30, The SOLD Project is competing in the Girl Effect Challenge alongside 69 other organizations for a chance to become part of the Girl Effect for one year. The Girl Effect is a super-reputable organization (they’re the philanthropic arm of Nike), so winning would be a BIG DEAL—leading to significant exposure and a great credibility boost as well as potentially tens of thousands of dollars in donations over the next year. (Last year’s winners received more than $30K each.)

“At the end of November, the TOP SIX ORGS with the HIGHEST NUMBER of unique donors will be selected as WINNERS! Last year’s winners had as many as 800 unique donors, so that’s where the bar is set. It’s high, but we can do this!”

Giving as little as $10 will start the Girl Effect, and you can give up to $2,100 (which provides educational resources for 5 students for a  year) and beyond!

GET ON BOARD. GIVE HERE.

Thanks.

Want to support a young pastor?

Dear friend,

When I agreed to spend Christmas 2009 with Aaron and Amy Graham, little did I know what I was getting myself into. Aaron and I spent a lot of time together, especially as we both attended, and taught at, Urbana 2009 (InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference). We talked a lot about churches, about what we felt God was calling us to, and about what church could look like.

At the time, Aaron and Amy were thinking of planting a church in our neighborhood of Columbia Heights, and a few months later they took the plunge. I’ve been involved with The District Church since we began meeting as a small group of twelve in the Grahams’ living room, through to our public gatherings that began in September with several dozen more people.

After a couple months of discernment, prayer and a lot of time trying to figure out what God wanted to do with me, I felt led to join the staff of the church, which I did on October 31, 2010.

So here I am, the first Leadership Resident of The District Church, which, depending on how you look at it, makes me either a pioneer or a guinea pig … or some hybrid. My responsibilities for the next year and a half essentially cover the gamut of pastoral urban ministry: teaching, preaching (which I did for the first time in mid-December; see right), discipling, chaplaincy, church and community outreach in the neighborhood, and leading worship. (For more on what it means to be a Leadership Resident, you can check out the “About Us” page of our website: www.districtchurch.org.)

Due to the church’s youth and its identity as a non-denominational missional church plant, Aaron and Amy have raised support in order to live and serve full-time. I’m committing to do the same, raising support in order to enable me to serve the church and the city, the church in the city.

To that end, I’m excited to invite you to be a part of what I believe God’s doing in and through me, this church, and this city.

I hope that you will prayerfully consider joining me in helping found this new church in our nation’s capital.

Peace and grace,

Jus.

***

WHY THE DISTRICT CHURCH?

At The District Church, we want to be centered around and excelling in worship, community and justice; we want to be a church that seeks to love God, to love our neighbors, and to love the city to which God had called us. If you look on the church’s website (www.districtchurch.org), one of our first descriptors is “A Church for the City.”

This vision and passion is built upon God’s words to the Israelite people in exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC:

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Washington, DC is a fascinating city. On the one hand, it is a city rich in culture and history, a city to which movers and shakers come from all over the world, a city that leads the country in terms of life expectancy, education and income.

And yet it is also a city with devastating poverty, a struggling public education system, and an HIV infection rate higher than many sub-Saharan African nations—it’s estimated that one in every twenty adults in DC has the infection.

People come to DC to change the country, to change the world … and yet changing the city is often overlooked. We want to be a church that seeks to make a genuine, tangible difference in the place to which we have been called.

Moreover, community is hard to find in a city whose transience is so ingrained by the political cycles; in this context, we want to be a church that provides such community to people. People may—and will—leave DC because God calls them to other things, but we don’t want people leaving DC because they couldn’t find a faith community and friends.

***

RAISING SUPPORT

I began raising support in mid-October and by the grace of God and the generosity of family and friends, I’ve already been able to raise $15,000 in support both pledged and given, both one-time and monthly.

To put this into context, I’d budgeted about $2,500 per month (or $30,000 for the year, November to November), which includes rent, utilities, health insurance, food, transportation … everything, really! So I’ve raised half of the support I need for the year, and I’m asking you to help me get the rest of the way!

TO GIVE, PLEASE FILL THIS OUT AND SEND BACK TO justin@districtchurch.org.

I/we would like to offer monthly support by donating on the 1st__ 16th__ of the month:

$500____ $250____ $100____ $50____ $25____ Other____

These contributions will be mailed__ transferred online__ automatically drafted online __

I/we would like to give a special gift of $________

Name:____________________ Phone:________________

Address:______________________

City:______________ State:___  Zip/Postcode:__________

E-mail:___________________________________

You can set up your online giving by visiting www.districtchurch.org, clicking Giving, and selecting the “Leadership Residency” fund in the drop-down menu. You may also make checks payable to “The District Church,” with “Leadership Residency” in the memo, and mail to: PO Box 3116, Washington, DC 20010.

All gifts are fully tax-deductible.

Are we as generous as we think we are?

A couple of interesting graphics measuring giving related to the Haiti earthquake. (Click to enlarge.)

First, considered in terms of sheer amount of money:

(Graphic: GOOD Magazine)

And second, in terms of giving per capita:

(Graphic: Many Eyes; data source: The Guardian)

Taking the US as an example:

  • Gross giving = $114,480,000 ($168,000,000 according to The Guardian’s data)
  • Per capita giving = 53 cents (36 cents according to GOOD Magazine’s data)

God loves the poor; do we?

Original post: March 7, 2008; update: January 27, 2010. It’s certainly interesting to look back on the journey that I’ve been on over the last couple years.

It so happens that I’ve been reading Jim Wallis’s The Great Awakening at the same time as I’ve started going through Isaiah, and at the same time, God continues to nudge me towards what I may well end up doing. Both texts are challenging, especially with regard to the crisis of poverty, something which I’m learning more about and something I’m learning to care more about.

Reading through the Scriptures over the years, I’ve come to know one thing that I wasn’t taught in Sunday School: God is with the poor. God cares about the oppressed, the downtrodden, those who have no one to speak out for them, those who are suffering under the weight of injustice and an unjust system. And when about half the population of the world live on less than two dollars a day (including more than a billion people living on less than one dollar per day), you’ve got to think that God is doing an awful lot of caring.

At the National Prayer Breakfast in 2006, Bono said:

The one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.

From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There is much more to do. There’s a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response. And finally, it’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice. Let me repeat that: It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.

And that’s too bad. Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it. But justice is a higher standard.

Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment. Sixty-five hundred Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about justice and equality.

Jim notes, “low-income people have the lowest voter turnout of any group in society (and don’t make many political donations either!)” (107) so it’s no wonder that advocates on their behalf are hard to find on Capitol Hill.

Broken systems need fixing, unjust institutions need correction, change needs to happen at an institutional level—it all seems rather daunting. But God is bigger than broken systems and unjust institutions. And he is on the side of the poor: “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker. Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.” (Proverbs 14:31; 19:17).

It’s as much a challenge to me: what am I doing to get involved in God’s story? What am I doing as I learn more and more of God’s heart? When we love someone, we come to love the things that they love. God loves the poor. Do we?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18, cf. Isaiah 61).