In 1999 I was a baby Christian, sitting in Bible study working through the Gospel of Mark, when we came to a radical verse:
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.1
At the time I was studying biophysics, planning to pursue a Ph.D in Astrobiology and work for NASA, with the dream of going as the astrobiologist on the first Mars mission. As I perched on a boulder during the next Bible study break, trying to deal with that verse and how difficult it would be to live out alongside all my other goals, God spoke to me and said:
Don’t worry about all that. You’re going to teach kids in the inner city instead.
God’s plan sounded good to me. So I dropped my pursuit of professional research science, trained for a new role, burned up my degrees,2 and moved into one of Los Angeles’s more notorious neighborhoods. For the next nine years I worked as a teacher, coach, charity employee, and the director of a nonprofit while living in the neighborhood and being part of the community.
Some time into that journey, a young woman who had had her own life-changing experience overseas decided that she was tired of the monotony of aerospace engineering, and went ahead and married me. She gets to be called “Peregrine” here, Latin for “pilgrim”, the faithful foreigner to this Earth from Hebrews 11:13.
Together, we left the United States in 2010 to move to Asia and pursue a second calling that God had given us – to live and work among the poor in the Global South.
For the last seven years my wife and I have worked with children and families who live in the slums,3 children who live and beg on the streets, girls who have suffered from human trafficking and other forms of abuse, and other people who are doing their best to get by in a world where that is often more difficult than it should be.
As much as possible, we have tried to follow in the steps of our Mentor and live alongside the people we are serving with, get to know their lives, and be willing to be molded by them. To that end, in 2012 we moved into the slum to be with the people.
A couple years ago, a foster daughter joined us and we became three.
Our contribution is only a drop in the bucket. Coming to the slum has not given us all the answers. Our presence has not solved the things that are wrong. But it has refined our understanding of the problems and the manner in which we have contributed to such problems in the past. Rusty Pritchard, who follows God in a community of people relocated to inner-city Atlanta, states that we live in community with the poor to find a different vantage point, to engage in a community that “keeps us asking the right questions.”4
My hope is that this blog will grow our community of people that keeps each other asking the right questions. That through this community more people will engage with our lives, with the poor in their own lives, and thus there will be more people to keep us on our toes.
Perhaps one day we will be enough drops that the bucket overflows.
 Mark 8:34-35
 Okay, that’s a total lie, I still needed those degrees to get jobs.
 There is controversy in the use of the word “slum.“ While “slum“ is a technical and evocative term in NGOs, to many people it has negative connotations. The United Nations defines a slum household as “a group of individuals living under the same roof and lacking one or more of the following conditions: access to improved water, access to improved sanitation, sufficient living area, structural quality and durability of housing, and security of tenure.” I pray that the way I portray the slum adds fullness to its connotations and will always be respectful of those who had much less choice than myself to live in such a situation. Debate about the use of the word can be found here and here.
 Rusty’s story is found on pages 16-19 of “Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed”, by Frances Westley