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.
Demonstrating the older son’s anger.
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:
Using the dry-erase board to illustrate what relationships should be like!
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!
It was a joy to speak to OneWay twice this year!
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).
There was quite a turnout even despite the fact that all the U.Va VSA students came to my seminar!
(Courtesy of Kim Pham Clark)