THE BIG PICTURE
What does the name “Kingdom Rice” mean?
If “Kingdom” represents God’s rule and reign, and “Rice” represents what is common in Asian culture then “Kingdom Rice” represents God’s rule and reign on mission to sort out all the good and bad of Asian culture. Essentially, it’s “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, among any gathering with RICE, on earth, as it is in heaven.” If you live by an ethnic supermarket and go to the rice section, you’ll see rice from many, if not every Asian country. What if each of the conversations represented by all that rice was infused with a growing reign of God’s good rule and reign?
As God’s rule and reign continues to invade and transform all Asians, we’ll see citizens of the Kingdom that look like a “new kind of Asian.”
See more about Kingdom Rice here.
What is a “New Kind of Asian American?”
“You will know them by their fruit!” Jesus says. A new kind of Asian American will be known for his or her emotional richness rather than by his or her skills (programs), knowledge (degrees), or achievement (need I say more?). “We need better people, not programs” goes the ole’ Coleman quote from “The Master Plan of Evangelism.”
Likewise, Christian leadership will not ignore the emotional qualifications as found in the pastoral epistles. In fact, a study of those qualifications will show that a majority of them are indeed emotional.
A new kind of Asian American has a sense of self, where one came from, how one’s been taught emotionally, both the good and the bad, and recognizes the need for a new Father in heaven. If there is anger about one’s family or cultural background, it’s dealt with and resolved in Christ.
A new kind of Asian American believes CHANGE is possible! Or put more accurately, God’s new family has the power to change us, teaching how to love in this new family, and how to trust in this new family. (I’ve met too many Asian leaders who effectively don’t believe Asians can change) Using a map analogy, knowing our own story gives us a starting point and helps us locate where we are. But God’s vision of true community as found in the Trinity gives us a destination where perfect love and trust are modeled. Our present lives on earth then are marked by a journey of change, a journey of transformation, and a journey of abundant living.
A new kind of Asian can go back to one’s culture of origin, and celebrate there in spite of the good and bad parts of culture, without the hurts and pains causing a reaction. There’s no “I’ll never go to a Chinese church again!” or “I’ll never go to a Korean church again.” Problems still exist, but a new kind of Christian can stand outside the culture, and feel compassion.
A new kind of Asian can learn those aspects of God’s glory expressed in a western context, and vise versa. In a nation as diverse as ours (and in a City as diverse as SF), this kind of dynamic is fairly quenched.
I share a bit more about what a “new kind of Asian American” looks like here
Real Quotes I’ve heard through the years that remind me of the “need”
- “I can’t change because I’m Asian.”
- “We should NOT go back to the past. It’s not biblical. Even Paul himself says so in Phil 3:13
- “What you feel is not important. Christianity is about faith and obedience only!”
- “I don’t have time for my kids because I need to do the important work of the ministry!”
- “Once I get my seminary degree, I will be qualified to do God’s work!”
- “If we only had more money, more resources, then we could reach more people.”
- “Why would I want to spend time with non-Christians? They should just come here to church!”
- “Oh for sure he’s a Christian…he leads worship for us!”
Though there might be slivers on truth in each those quotes, I don’t agree with the overall message. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me with any questions.
How could a “New Kind of Asian American” have fresh evangelical impact?
“India and China are 40% of the world’s population (of 6 billion people)…
“Asianization” and urbanization are the twin engines propelling the planet into the next century…
Missions is no longer geographically distant, they are culturally distant.” – Dr. Ray Bakke
Whenever I used to welcome new staff to Epic, I always tell the story of how our African-Americans siblings helped kick start the way for Asian-American ministry within CCC over 20 years ago, simply by voicing the need to reach others in a way different than the majority culture, then inviting Asians to share their platform so we could find an Asian own voice. Once Asians do, they are uniquely poised to reach the nations that have come to our doorstep in ways that westerners would have a tougher time instinctively understanding. Whereas western worlds went overseas in the past generation to reach many, it’s often said that now Eastern worlds will be the next major missions force, to reach those in the 10/40 (where 90% of the unreached live), and to reach those in cities where the nations have come. A new kind of Asian can bridge those cultures.
How has God prepared me for such an endeavor?
God’s given me at least 3 unique stages to prepare me for this role
Stage 1: He showed me the need.
I started seeing gaping holes in the discipleship of Asian Americans from the moment I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) over 20 years ago, long before Epic Movement’s Asian ministry was launched. And as an insider to the ministry (staff with CCC, as an English pastor in a 1st-generation run context, and as a lead pastor of an Asian American church, and as a trainer and team leader for multiple mission trips to East Asia), I began to get a vision for what was needed. But I did not have the tools to do it, even with my seminary training.
How does one train the emotional life among a people who have a natural apprehension to the topic? In our western America, you go see a counselor, or perhaps read one of the many volumes on emotional health. But for Asians, both of these popular methods have high thresholds. Asians typically don’t see counselors. And books on the subject often start from a western context that many Asians, even ones raised here, cannot easily relate to. And there are a ton of stats that correlate Asians with poor emotional health. (which I’ll point to later)
But not only did I see gaping holes in the discipleship of Asian Americans, I saw gaping holes in the discipleship of MY own life. If not for the sake of my own life and my then young marriage, something had to be done. Enter God’s sovereign grace to equip me.
Stage 2: The formation and equipping – God’s Sovereign plan
There’s really no way I could have orchestrated all that God’s used to equip me for the task. But here are a couple of highlights from this journey.
Almost 10 years ago, I was hired by a former seminary dean, author, and speaker for an organization whose focus was to equip leaders for a biblically-based rich emotionally healthy spirituality. Some of my roles included being the chaplain for the team, lecturing at conferences, seminaries, parachurhes, and more. I was also the partnerships director so I forged new relationships with churches and most significantly, with major organizations in Asia.
In that role, I was equipped to address the aforementioned needs by using the Bible to equip people for a more healthy emotional life. As chaplain of our organization, I also ministered to our team (which consisted of seminarians, Marriage Family Therapists (MFTs), Pharmacists, and more.) Together, we traveled the States and Asia. On one noted trip to Singapore, I had a front role seat to the entire world of emotional development among Asians as PhDs, MFTs, practitioners, publishers, and more on the subject all converged together in my time there. That time served to integrate a biblical toolset to address the issue and a platform to begin practicing the tools in an Asian context. After about a couple of years, I not only had the tool bag that I wished I had in earlier ministry, I had already ported much of it over to an Asian context and tested it on the field.
But nothing has formed me more than trials, being back stabbed in ministry, our recent health challenges, and more. With each turn, I’m better prepared, and by God’s grace, a better kind of Kingdom Asian!
Stage 3: Equipping a New Kind of Asian American missionary
One of our clients was Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). Along with our team, I helped equip both staff and students in different regions across the States. But one such CCC invitation came to me from the first national staff conference for CCC’s new Asian ministry, Epic Movement. At the time, early 2007, I did not know any of the CCC staff except for a few old-timers (I had been gone for 10 years). What started as an hour time slot turned into a whole morning of their valuable time to train their staff in the discipleship of the emotional life. I’m told that was a highlight of the conference. Afterwards, I was invited to join Epic’s national team (yet to be formed) to continue the work. That event led me (and my wife) to join their staff for some wonderful ministry years, until early this year when family health challenges stopped all my traveling and forced me to resign. Many staff noted to me my influence on the organizational to see cultural shifts in how Asians are discipled. (but I worked on another very talented team that shared the same vision) I’ve seen the work propagate to staff teaching students, and students teaching and discipling others. God gave me a wonderful team in Epic, and together along with collaboration from scholars, other well-known authors on the subject, we developed many tools and developed a whole culture of the emotional life. As a result, evangelism become much more effective.
And in that same time, I’ve been invited to dozens of Asian and non-Asian churches across denominations (from very conservative to Pentecostal) to preach, equip their leadership and more. I continue to mentor and influence other leaders, pastors, church planters, denominational leaders.
Personally, I’ve scarcely had time to get things down in writing. Most of my work has been in the background, through much reading, talking, and living, and delivered primarily through the “live” speaking ministry. But slowly, I’m making more time for the writing part of the ministry (again, our health challenges stopped travel altogether. Setting good boundaries has long been a growth area for me). Though I left the staff of Epic, I’m still serving their staff from a distance, like phone coaching staff, recording video training and presently, I’m in the middle of a book revision to train staff in the value of soul care as it pertains to fundraising. Then there’s this blog, not to capture new ideas, but simply to be a curated repository of ideas to help bring about this “new kind of Asian.”
But the best part of it all, I am being transformed, becoming a “new kind of Asian American” myself. Feel free to leave a reply here or email me privately. Blessings!
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