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It was an honor to be part of InterVarsity Asian American ministry’s national pilot project on a witness sermon series on vocational discernment, particularly for Asian American college students. Our series has lots to say to everyone, but addresses the specific experiences that our people go through in this area.
Our series, called #WorkSoHard: Finding a Life That Matters was designed to give students (of all Asian backgrounds) a taste of God’s vision for why we work so hard, and also reveal our broken ways of doing this. You can find all four videos of #WorkSoHard YouTube playlist here.
FYI: This is version 1.0 and only my/UVA AIV’s version of the vision of the project, contextualized for our campus. So it’s a work in progress as we figure out how to help others do this on campus or at a conference.
Special thanks to Joe Ho for being an awesome supervisor/coach/mentor and giving me the chance to be part of this project; thanks to David C, Samantha M, & Andrea C for helping with the video/recording, and for Tim M for coordinating LG awesomely to pull this thing off.
I have had a lot of speaking engagements this year, but I had my first opportunity to preach at a non-InterVarsity fellowship this past Friday. On April 12th, I was invited to Grace Christian Fellowship’s (GCF) large group.
GCF was the first predominantly-Asian fellowship at U.Va, started by I.J. Kim nearly two decades ago. I first met brother I.J. when he spoke at Rockbridge in 2008 at our C-Team track. How fitting that even after graduation, he and I would reconnect in ministry! As I considered how best to serve the audience, I took note of the fact that many GCF members were 1.5 or 2nd generation Korean Americans who grew up to some degree in immigrant churches. That quickly led to Luke 15, traditionally known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
As I’ve done before, I asked the audience to imagine that the characters were Asian, firstly to offset the internalized bias that Bible characters are white, and secondly to make us more open to what God might have to say for us. I think it should be called “The Parable of the Good Enough Sons” instead. See for yourself what it’s like to see this famous text with Asian eyes and Asian skin.
In February, our area of central/western Virginia held our annual Winter Conference at Rockbridge. Every four years, we focus on sex and relationships (which is always extremely popular for obvious reasons). We believe it’s crucial to give students direct and gracious teaching on God’s design of sex, relationships, purity, and commitment. This year we had record numbers this year! Never before have we maxed out every room and mattress at the camp. God used the time powerfully to give students a deeper vision for how God intended relationships to be.
I had the joy of leading a seminar on dating and relationships. My desire was to show students the bigger picture, beyond terminologies and technocratic jargon that many pastors or leaders have burdened them with. So, I used a dry erase board and direct examples. Judging from the great questions, feedback after, and overflowing attendance both sessions, I think it went pretty well. See for yourself with the video here:
On March 1, 2013, I was invited to speak again at OneWay IV’s large group — this time, it was for an invitational large group, specifically set-up to be friendly for newcomers. They’d spent the week doing Proxe Stations with a theme about “Faking It.” At U.Va especially, there are certain personas and images that students feel pressured to adopt. OneWay’s desire was to help refute those with the image that God has for us.
As I’ve said before, OneWay is another chapter of IV at U.Va specifically focused on black and African American students. I spoke on Luke 5:12-16 to help students see how bandaging up the wounds we have prevents us from receiving healing. I really enjoyed the chance to speak into an ethnic-specific ministry context that wasn’t my own, yet still see how my own unique Asian American identity and minority experience could really bless and resonate with students. You can find the audio of my talk here. Special thanks to Ting-Ting for recording it!
In late January, I had the rare privilege of being invited to lead a seminar at the Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Association (MAUVSA) annual “Advance” conference. MAUVSA is the regional organization the my beloved U.Va VSA is part of, and it gathers VSAs from 9 different schools together for shared fundraising and advocacy. Their conference was about pursuing your passion as a Vietnamese/Asian American leader. The U.Va VSA president remembered my talk at ECAASU and thought of me!
It’s so rare that a campus pastor gets the opportunity to act as a leader or speaker in such a setting. I really wanted to bring something valuable to students based upon my own personal professional and spiritual perspective. Thus, my talk – “Asian American Leadership in a White American World” – drew from my own exploration of ethnic identity and the sociological realities of America. I included material from InterVarsity vice president Paul Tokunaga’s book “Invitation to Lead” as well as InterVarsity alumna Jane Hyun and her famous book “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling.” I really loved being able to serve my own VSA students in this setting!
You can find the video of my talk here (apologies for the backlighting and angle, there wasn’t an ideal place to put the camera).
IV’s Asian American Ministries page has compiled some of the Urbana PANA lounge talks! Right now, mine’s the most recent and at the top of the page! Such an honor to be able to contribute to our ministry resources and the national conversation. Click here to see it!
Also, check out the other speakers’ talks — these men and women are really eminent leaders in the Asian American ministry community. I can hardly believe I’m featured on the same page as any (let alone ALL) of these individuals! It’s an honor to be serving alongside leaders like these.
Urbana 12 Pan-Asian Lounge: WHY NON-CHRISTIAN ASIANS DON’T LIKE YOUR ASIAN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP (video)
While at Urbana I had the privilege of speaking at the Pan-Asian N. American (PANA) lounge – a place where Asian American students could gather for food, fellowship, and to hear short talks focusing on a big idea that related to intersection of ethnic identity and spiritual life. I was the very last speaker in 4 days of excellent talks. My topic: “Asian America: Divided by God?” or, more bluntly, “Why don’t non-Christian Asian Americans like our Asian fellowship?”
This 10-minute talk is a re-shaped version of my talk at ECAASU back in February. While ECAASU focuses on political activism and cultural awareness, largely from a secular standpoint, Urbana engages these topics from a Christian background. I approached the divide between religious and non-religious Asian Americans from a scriptural standpoint. I called Asian American Christians to re-examine their fears and gifts and to recommit to Christ’s mandate and manner of witness.
It seemed to elicit positive response from folks who’ve never heard this topic spoken on before. Some students I know from Duke, as well as student leaders from MIT and the University of Michigan, asked questions about how to embody this kind of culturally-authentic / culturally-effective witness. Again I’m grateful for the chance to speak out of what God has led me through (even though I still feel so far behind where I should be)!
You can see the video here: