Monthly Archives: September 2012

OneWay IV large group sermon: THE COST OF EVERYTHING (video)

Last Friday, I was thrilled to get the chance to preach at OneWay Christian Fellowship’s large group. OneWay is another chapter of InterVarsity here at U.Va ministering to and through black and African American students – they went before us in terms of doing ethnic-specific ministry here on Grounds! As sibling IV chapters, we staff love to serve each other, invite each other to lead or get to know our students, and share our ministry space as a family. Even in the midst of AIV’s intense fall outreach schedule, I was glad to serve my fellow IV staff worker Charlene as well as get to spend some time with OneWay students.

The inclusion of my story as a son of immigrants/being Asian, as well as a reference of many scholarship-recipients was purposeful. As ethnic specific ministries, we have to get into our context for the Gospel to take root. In fact, our whole sibling chapter/staff model of InterVarsity here at U.Va is very purposeful to engage with the ethnic heritage and context we come from and enter into through ministry. And when I said that OneWay set the tone for some of what AIV does, that’s not just a politician’s compliment, I really mean that. Much of what I learned as an intern, before I received the specific calling to minister to Asian students, was gained from observing OneWay! I can’t say enough how important cross-cultural learning and ministry is for us.

OneWay is in the middle of a 4-week sermon series called “Follow Me” discussing the real, nitty gritty nature of what it means to follow Jesus. No platitudes, no fluffiness, just direct messages and reflection upon what this call means. I was given Luke 14:25-35 as my passage, which is often subtitled “The Cost of Being a Disciple.” You can find the YouTube video of the sermon, embedded here!

Emphasizing a point

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Five anecdotes & adages about my life as a chapter planter

When people ask about how I’m doing or how AIV is going, I don’t usually have an answer that isn’t simply quantifiable. It’s not because I’m obsessed only with numbers. It’s because I cannot explain to you what’s really going on underneath the surface. So I’ve written a little list of 5 anecdotes and adages that hopefully help illuminate what my life is like as a chapter planter. Maybe this’ll become a series. Hopefully it’ll help me make more sense.

I.

(September 2011)
I followed a 1st-year to get into a Watson-Webb, 20 minutes early to stake out and set up a study room. I move tables and chairs into a circle. In my bag I have 12 copies of the Bible passage, my notes, and pens. I sit quietly, waiting for the next 20 minutes. And the next 20. Nobody comes.
I walk back to my car, reminding myself that God has called me here. Shortly after, I shout at God for not following through. And I repeat this process a dozen more times that night.

II.

Actually, this is how it always feels. What alternative is there? I am fighting/living/dying to bring a vision that doesn’t exist yet. And I feel relish/rage in every moment of it. My mind is a hot, tempestuous place, always coming up with new ideas and thinking about what to do now and next.
Such is the life of a forge.

III.

Chapter planters are not optimists or pessimists; we can’t afford to be either. I gustily plan for 30 but always fearfully know it could be 6. We live in two places at once; both are real. That is every day of my job. God help you if offer any overly-optimistic/-pessimistic ministry ‘advice’ to a chapter planter. I’ve learned to politely receive and not take it personally. But, this is me we’re talking about, so it’s hard not to.

IV.

We all know that ministry is not an easy calling – if it is, you’re not doing real ministry – and at some point or other, every campus minister has a hard year. NSO flops because students drop the ball. Divisions emerge in leadership and commitments aren’t honored. Even when good choices are made, sometimes things don’t seem to click in some pragmatic or spiritual way. In a hard year, numbers shrink, morale sinks, and we say “okay, next year.”
Consider that a chapter planter willfully signs up for a hard year, or two, or three. We don’t have the luxury of “next year,” because there isn’t even a “this year.” There is no M.O. to rewrite or reshape. If I do not go to campus on a given day, the chapter does not exist. It is a round-the-clock kind of calling that has no back-up plan. Yes, we’re all a little crazed. That should explain why we joke about being the Top Gun of IV.

V.

(March 2012)
I am setting up meetings through Facebook on a nondescript weeknight – my hours know no rhythm. And as I’m adding an appointment into Google Calendar I realize that I, a professional Christian minister, am meeting with leaders of some of the U.Va cultural organizations on a personal and pastoral level, many of whom are not Christian or in any way religious. These are the same leaders who asked me, suspiciously, cautiously, necessarily, what exactly my role – as a professional Christian minister – was going to be in their organization.
After hours of attending events, cleaning up, serving alongside, offering rides, offering advice, it seems they believed whatever answer I gave them about being here to serve and support them because God loves them even if Christians don’t always show that. I have taught Acts 2:42-47 many times as a Christian leader but this is the first time I know what it truly means to “[enjoy] the favor of all the people.” It humbles me, empowers me, and brings me to tears. It reminds me that I am here for a specific, God-ordained reason even though it feels like hell and the gates seem to be prevailing more than we are. It helps me sleep another night and go to war another day.

One of the many events last week – a dean of students garden party for incoming Asian/Asian American first-years to meet some leaders.