It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I figured I might as well because this is just one crazy story to tell. Most of my previous blogs, on other sites I’ve used before, are all Gospel based telling God’s story of what he’s done with my life. This is no different. In context to what this is all about, if the title doesn’t make it clear, it’s about my application process to Western Seminary. I had to answer these short answer questions, but all these short answer questions weren’t answered shortly. Prior to what is currently happening if my life, I started doing research, scheduling appointments with counselors for info, and found out that going to seminary school is a possibility. Thank you God! Right when God made everything clear for me to pursue this, tragedy happens. It’s all explained in the short answers. Here are the questions given to me in order:
Discuss your personal spiritual life, including details of your conversion and your assessment of your present spiritual condition.
Although I didn’t grow up Christian, I grew up praying a lot and I believe my prayer life led me to being the intensely spiritual person I am today; however, my prayer life started when I accepted Christ at 11 years old out of my own will.
I accepted Christ during this party event at our home in Oakland. During this event, my family and relatives, as always, will put a lot of pressure on me since I am the eldest of the siblings. Even for an 11-year-old, they expected more out of me. I guess my parents weren’t proud of me or I was unworthy of being a relative, a son, or even a brother. Relatives, parents, and my little brother always bullied me. My own little brother didn’t want to look up to me. Since I couldn’t handle the teasing anymore, I wanted to take my own life at 11 years old. What stopped me was a relative friend who is a year older than me, witnessing me in the bedroom alone crying. I asked that friend, “how do I die feeling no pain?” My relative friend just told me to accept Christ as my lord and savior and believe that he died on the cross for my sins. I prayed to God. I said I believed Christ died on the cross for my sins and asked if he could take my life, and this is how I accepted Christ.
As I got older, my prayer life continued to grow. Through these prayers it led me to finding the right people who I could call family and friends. One example is my cousin who wasn’t around growing up. I remembered praying to God if I could spend more time with my cousins and other family members I did not grow up with. I was in my high school senior year when God answered this prayer. One late night, hanging with my dance crew out at McDonalds near San Francisco State University, I saw this college kid who looked familiar. I went up to him and asked if Herbert was his name. He looked at me and said, “yeah I am Herbert, who are you?” I said that I’m his cousin Aaron. Herbert then invited me to hangout with other cousins and from there, God brought me to hang out with my cousins involved with a Christian Fellowship at SF State. If it wasn’t for this event that happened over 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be at this present spiritual condition today. My cousin brought me into God’s Kingdom, which led to my current church, Faith Bible Church of Vallejo.
I moved to Vallejo from Oakland in December 2018 when Herbert and his wife offered a room for me to rent out. Although I am very new at Faith Bible Church of Vallejo, it has involved me with the church’s youth ministry and college career ministry by leading bible studies and helping with events. Because of my involvement with the church, my present spiritual condition is great because of how much God has blessed me during my time at Vallejo. I believe he has provided ways for me to continue my spiritual growth since I am at peace; I am healthy; I am stabled;
I am blessing others that my relationships with the people in my community and people at work are doing well. Because of God’s goodness, I believe that going to seminary school is a way for me to honor God and continue to glorify him through these blessings he has given me. I am excited to see what he has planned for my life.
Discuss your background of ministry experiences in church, parachurch, or volunteer organizations, together with some indication of results.
TL;DR: I’ve been involved with youth ministry, college and career ministry, homeless ministry, bible studies, martial arts ministry, and mission trips…I never did worship ministry though.
Note to reader: Last week, I started answering my short answers, and I could only answer the first question about my spiritual life, the question about special circumstances, and partially answered this question about my ministry experience. The moment I started thinking about seminary and having the thought of applying, I got a call from a doctor informing me that my mother is in the hospital. It’s funny how the devil attacks. Just when I thought I would complete this application at ease answering these short answer questions, I somehow am losing focus. This is the third question I answered. Today, Nov. 20th, 2020, my mom called me wanting me to visit and told me the exact location. I went to visit her at the hospital, but I wasn’t able to see her. The informational desk told me that there is no patient in the hospital that goes by my mother’s name. My siblings even visited her this week at the same hospital. I’m very confused. She’s having an open heart surgery on Monday. Now, here I am late at night trying to answer all these questions, preparing for the worst.
My involvement with ministry started when I was in college, but the leadership skills I’ve gained throughout high school are what God used to bless these Christian communities. Growing up in San Francisco, being involved with a lot of non-Christian youth community-based organizations and even starting my organizations such as high school clubs were all God’s doing. He used me as the ministry leader that the communities needed and He taught me how to listen to His calling.
The first Christian ministry that I took initiative in leading was during my undergraduate studies in San Francisco State University. Because I grew up in San Francisco, I had built a powerful network to outreach and to start a new ministry branch under InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at SF State called Kapwa. Kapwa is a Filipino Christian Fellowship that has other branches across other universities, but not at SF State. It was once an organization at SF State that I died out, but I believe God used me to revive the community that SF State needed by starting a new chapter. Other than outreach, I had to lead bible studies and to be an ambassador putting our organization within the Filipino Community of San Francisco, not just SF State. Although that campus was a tough place for me to evangelize, God brought the right people to reestablish it. There were many challenges I had to overcome, especially when others opposed InterVarsity. My time at SF State, I learned I had to rely on God a lot.
After I graduated from SF State, I still pursued God and found a church in Oakland called Regeneration. This is where God called me to do a one-year internship ministry work. During my one year, I started another bible study, went on a mission trip to Cambodia, helped with other ministries such as the martial arts and homeless ministry, did a few spoken word performances and many more. My one year at Regeneration helped me discern what my true calling is and until I still am discerning of being a pastor to plant a church at SF is my calling. I remembered praying to God that if this is your will, then provide ways for me to make it happen. I grew up poor because my family is poor. By poor, I mean poor in every way, spiritually, mentally, financially, emotionally and physically. I prayed I get a job that will help me make this happen. After my one year was up, I moved back in with my non-Christian family. Moving back must have been the biggest mistake, but it also could have been God’s way of keeping me alive. I’m not really sure. A tragic event happened that led me to being hospitalized when I moved back.
Discuss your personal goals regarding vocational ministry service. How will the field of study that you’ve selected support those goals? What are your plans after completing your studies? Who has affirmed you in pursuing this direction in your life? If you are married, how does your spouse feel about these plans?
TL; DR: My career goal is to become a pastor who plants a church in SF and who writes novels. If plans don’t happen, I hopefully still am a software engineer by the time I’m done with seminary. My personal goal in life, not mentioned below, is always to become a great husband and father because my family will always be my first ministry.
Note to reader: This is the fourth question I answered. At first I thought I had to answer all these questions as an argument explaining why I am a great candidate for this seminary. This is what I learned when I was applying for a top university as an undergrad. After speaking to the admissions counselor, yesterday Thursday November 19th, I was told to write about 100–300 words. Thank you, God! Because of what is going on in my life explained in another question I answered, I just don’t have the mental capacity to write a five page expository essay. All my answers at this point will just be my inner thoughts.
Currently, as I apply for Western Seminary, my overall goal for this journey is to continue discerning God’s calling. I applied for the graduate studies certificate program because I don’t know if I am going to do well. It’s just good to know if I am not doing well, I could at least finish this program within two years. If I do well and God provides ways for me to continue, then my plan is to change my focus and go for the masters in global leadership as mentioned in the question about special circumstances.
Describe your strengths and weaknesses, particularly as they may affect your readiness to begin seminary studies and engage in vocational ministry.
TL; DR: My strengths are leadership, public speaking, and transparency. My weaknesses are being distant and staying focused. I believe this will help me begin my seminary studies because I need to grow. I can’t let anything distract me so my relationship with others will be distant; therefore, I will stay focused. The leadership, public speaking, and transparency reflect the pastor I want to become if it’s God’s will.
Note to reader: I felt like I’ve answered this already in previous questions. I write a lot. I just want to make sure that the seminary school gets to know me and my personality a bit.
Most of my strengths were once weaknesses, and my weaknesses now are just places I have to continue to grow in. I believe that this season God will use my weaknesses, for His power is perfect through my weaknesses. This current season, I have been distant because of the quarantine. This could help me focus and prepare for my seminary studies. As I have mentioned in the previous questions, I’ve led bible studies and started ministries, but what I haven’t mentioned yet is being transparent. It’s funny because being distant is a weakness, but a strength is connecting with others through being transparent. Through transparency, I go straight to deep talks with others and this helped me develop great relationships with others. I believed I’ve shown that through this application process so far. Although I’m distant, I believe what caused me to be distant is my will to grow. Ever since I was young, growing up with my non-Christian family, I had the mentality to escape. This resulted in my involvement with youth based organizations helping me with my university application. Doing extra-curricular activities looks good on a college application.
Through these organizations, I’ve developed the skill of public speaking by writing spoken words and performing at events. Through time, that skill of speaking in front of many people telling these stories has honed throughout my college life and until now. I believe this is one of the greatest strengths I’ve developed. I didn’t grow up as a child who talked too much, but God gave me patients by listening and observing “everything that’s going on” in life. By “everything that’s going” on, I’m talking about the drama of growing up in Oakland with a broken family. Because of the drama, I had this eagerness to get out of a certain position in life. As a High School kid, the only thing I could think of to get out is graduating high school. This caused me to be distant. My mentality of graduating made me focus, and if I don’t associate with others who are dragging me, then I know I’m going somewhere. This is of course something I have to grow in because God will always allow disruption on my path for growth, just like what’s currently happening with my life.
Are there any special circumstances you would like the Admission Committee to know about? You may advise us of any special circumstances that affected your college or university performance. You may wish to summarize your situation especially if you do not meet one or more admission requirements. Include dates when applicable.
Depending on whether I could handle the workload, I might want to change my program and aim for Masters in Global Leadership. Also, depending on financial stability, it will determine if I could continue furthering my education. I hope God paves the way and makes my path straight in order for me to finish in the Master’s program. Other than that, my health isn’t at its greatest, so I need to make sure I do not conflict my classes with martial arts training, which meets Monday-Friday at 6:15pm. My goal is to make sure I attend at least 3 martial arts training classes a week to keep my blood sugar level low, for I am diabetic.
Give an overview of the major events in your life history that have shaped you as a person.
TL; DR: I got beat up by a group of kids in the streets at 13 years old. This caused me to pray a lot almost every night until now. Age 15, I travelled to Israel for free, strengthening my belief in Christ. At age 17, I bumped into my cousin who brought me into God’s Kingdom. Age 27, I almost died and God has shown me grace and mercy, keeping me alive for His reasons.
Note to reader: Today, November 22, 2020, I finally visited my mom at the hospital earlier. It was crazy how every time I visited I had to drive about an hour knowing that the information desk and security will not allow me in so I just had to drive back home. Every time I call my mom on the phone downstairs, she’s not answering the phone. It turns out my mom put a restriction on a visitor who kept giving her stress. That visitor is my little brother, so wearing a mask going into the hospital they couldn’t really tell if I was my brother or not. This is the 6th question answered.
I have mentioned a few already of major events already in previous questions. I want to talk about one that happened to me. I just moved back with my family from living at Regeneration church because of the internship. When I moved into my family’s home, I was moving into a place full of distress. My parents were getting a divorce, my niece was just born, my brother and the baby’s mother weren’t together and my sister was about to finish her last year of school. About 2 months living with my parents, there were many blessings that God has done. I started my new career in July at Wells Fargo as a contractor, and God has provided ways for me to show my family the same grace and mercy he has shown me. On August 8th, 2018, I came home from work and I ate dinner. A few hours later, I started throwing up the food I ate, and I felt a very painful stomach ache. I thought I could man it out by ignoring the pain and wake up the next morning, but it kept getting worse throughout the night. 2am August 9th 2018, I rushed to the ER at Kaiser in Oakland. I found out I’m diagnosed with severe chronic necrotizing pancreatitis and placed in the ICU. I couldn’t eat for almost three weeks. During my time at the hospital, the only thing I could do is reflect on my life and talk to God a lot. It was when my parents were at the hospital. My mom was there first with me, making sure I was okay. My dad walks in to see me. Right when my mom and dad saw each other, they started an argument and started fighting, yelling, that nurses and doctors heard the commotion. There I was watching them arguing, and I saw a spiritual battle between God and Satan. Satan was trying to convince God to let me go. God was doing everything he could to keep me alive. I had a visual of Jesus Christ dying on the cross, and this is always the battle that is happening all the time. Christ had to die on that cross so that more of God’s goodness could pour down into humanity. I was there watching Christ die, and even though I had the power to stop it, I couldn’t. I have to let him die on that cross. This is exactly what was going on when I saw my parents argue. As badly as I could stop their divorce, stop all their problems, the drama, almost anything that is going on in my family’s life, I could fix it once I’m back at home; however, I have to let it all happen because God has bigger plans for me. I am bed ridden at the moment, there is nothing I could do. This is just like how I saw Christ on the cross. There is nothing I could do, but let it happen. This shaped me and gave me a better understanding of God’s hope. That through all of this that is happening in my life, God is doing something good. After the hospitalization and was ready to get discharged, my mom told me that if I was an hour late to the hospital. I would have died and I was very close to endure the pain all night not realizing that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Now here I am writing this application and at the same time helping out my mom with her hospitalization. I know God is doing something good.
Describe your family of origin, current and past relationships with family members and the effects of these relationships on your life as an adult.
TL; DR: I grew up as a Filipino American with a non-Christian family. My relationship with my family wasn’t well. I am dealing with my family and it is getting better. My relationship with others has been great because as a leader I used my knowledge of what a family isn’t to to build and define what a family is in the ministries I serve in.
Note to reader: Today, November 22, 2020, as I visited my mom at the hospital, a lot of sadness came in. My mom wanted to see me. I have been having troubles seeing her. The social workers yesterday contacted me and told me that my mom’s depressed because I didn’t visit. She doesn’t speak English well, so I understand why my mom was giving me a hard time to see her. I know she was crying a lot because I, the oldest son, wouldn’t visit her. Before her incident being hospitalized, we talked on the phone and she wanted to come to my place for Thanksgiving. She always wanted to visit my place, and it’s sad that she hasn’t yet. Tomorrow, Monday, November 23rd, might be her last day on earth because she is going to have an open heart surgery. When I visited her, I just told her the gospel, asked if she accepts Christ as her lord and savior, and she said yes. There I left, told her I loved her, and I will see her again in heaven if the surgery fails. If this is the last time I see her face, I’m glad that I saw her face smiling and I left her knowing she is happy.
My relationship with my family, I worked hard for them. I didn’t do drugs growing up; I didn’t skip school and party hard with friends. I did everything I could to help them out. All the hard work I did, it was for them. My father was an alcoholic, my mother was emotionally and mentally abusive, my brother was a drug dealer and addict, who brought random people into our home for doing their recreational activities. I think my little sister was the only one who saw my life and knew where I was going. She followed my footsteps on having a better life that she also currently attends SF State. I honored my parents, and I did everything I could to make sure others viewed my family as a wonderful family; however, growing up with a broken family affected my relationship with others.
Because I know what’s not a family, God used me to build a family through the ministries I’ve led. When I built my ministry, I acted like the father in the group and I really put my all for everyone in the ministry. Even now in my current church folks want to hang out and go to my place. I think that’s my nature as the eldest sibling and coming from a family with parents who didn’t know how to raise a family. I never lash out on anyone, I rarely do. I take the beating and the blame. Just as I’ve mentioned before in previous questions, when I’m highly focused, I become distant. This is also a trait reflected from my family to others. Because of recent events, God has blessed me with time to heal with family that I am doing everything I can to unite them. My niece visited yesterday, but with her mom. It’s pretty complicated to bring people who I love together when there’s a lot of drama. I’m just thankful that God has blessed me to have my own place hoping to bring people together.
Describe your marriage and family life, including your relationships with spouse and children; or describe your single life, including relationships with others, male and female. If you have experienced marital separation or divorce, please include a statement explaining each occurrence here. The seminary considers these situations when we determine your readiness to begin the rigors of graduate theological education.
I’m single and currently not in a relationship. My relationship with others is great. Being a transparent person caused me to connect with others and share the testimonies that God has done with my life. I hope to start my own family someday.
I’m mentally exhausted through all that’s going on with my life that answering this question will also be short. Throughout my spiritual growth, my relationship with others has been developing. Even though I haven’t spoken to others in a while, I have friends who are still willing to be a reference for this application; however, there is this one group of friends I haven’t healed with yet. I think it was just not fair for them since I’m not really transparent around them. I try to be, but sometimes I’m judged, and that should have been a given being a Christian with non-Christians. I guess the best way for me to heal with anyone is always to be transparent, and it has built great relationships that have led to where I am today. Although there are still some relationships with others I need to heal with, I believe the ultimate form of knowing that I truly healed with others is when I finally have marriage. I want to make sure I heal with my own family before I start my own. I know I didn’t answer this question fully, but hopefully the other answers give a better idea of my single life and my relationship with others.
Last note to reader: I just want to say thank you for getting to know me. This is the last question to answer. I want to make sure I answer these short answers to stand out. I know my answers are not short except this question and the one about special circumstances. I want to give my full effort on this application is because If I don’t get into seminary, then this ends my discernment of becoming a pastor. As long as God knows I tried, then I know that not getting in is a form of his grace and mercy. Either way, continuing on seminary or not, I have to thank God for everything. Answering this last question is a way of God showing me hope in my future. This application process is another testimony to tell others someday.