If you want to know, I was born to Korean immigrants in the heart of Lincoln Park in downtown Chicago. But Dad made me trade frigid winters and muggy summers for Seattle’s incessant drizzle when I was five, and while I was growing up, I took many naps under that blanket of gray.
After high school, I headed east to stare at blackboards full of illegible calculus formulas explained by TA’s with incomprehensibly thick foreign accents. I should thank God every day that I’m not an engineer, and I left college in 1995 with a piece of paper attempting to validate the gobs of financial aid I spent, which said that I had graduated from MIT with a Management Science degree. After that, I left Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 1999 — which is a degree that’s poorly named: shouldn’t we be mastered by divinity instead? — trading confusion about formulas for confusion about God, though I didn’t know I was confused back then. But when I realized how truly confused I was (confusing, ain’t it?), I wandered to the wise gurus at Fuller Theological Seminary, and in 2008, they pushed me back out into the world with a Doctor of Ministry in Postmodern Leadership Development. Those pieces of parchment, though, gave me a chance to tinker with ministerial minds on topics like leadership development and evangelism at Bethel Seminary San Diego.
Of course, ministry educated me in ways the classroom couldn’t. As reckless twenty-somethings, we planted an urban, multi-ethnic church with a value for social justice called Cambridge Community Fellowship Church. Even more recklessly, they made me a pastor. Then, with less prudence still, someone appointed me an intern pastor over international youth, college students, and expats in the English-speaking ministries of Onnuri Community Church in Seoul, Korea. Poor kids. But they might’ve thought me cool when I sang lead and played acoustic & Spanish guitar for the Urbana Missions Conference 2003 and cut a CD. At least my wife thought so, and that’s good enough for me.
It’s hard for me to do just one thing. I’ve managed to squeeze out a couple of books and a booklet: True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In, it’s follow-up, Real life: A Christianity Worth Living Out, and Based on a True Story, all published by InterVarsity Press. Board memberships also helped me learn more about faith-based higher education and starting a business in the Japanese marketplace, and Christianity Today had put me on an advisory panel for Leading Outreach.
What fills my time these days is being national director for InterVarsity Asian American Ministries: 196 staff and 5,758 students to try and connect with all over the country could keep a guy busy. But I guess I also have time to lead a house church called the Vineyard Underground. And thankfully, the invitations still come often enough to speak on campuses, churches and conferences throughout the country, and my work has been featured in publications such as Christianity Today and Leadership Journal.
When the planets align and I get some spare time, I like to have fun with my buddies, travel, maybe swing a racket in hopes of playing something like tennis, read an insightful book, write angsty thoughts in my journal, blog irregularly to keep people guessing, hit some jazzy chords on the keys, and enjoy Los Angeles’ endless summer. And I have the privilege to do life with my two young boys and a wonderful wife, whose smile reminds me every day that I’m the lucky one.