Virtual Campuses Bearing Fruit (A Ministry Update)

Matching Grant Update (June 18, 2021): I qualified for a $3,000 matching grant from IV’s Staff Stabilization Fund. This grant is meant to offset funding losses to my budget as a result of the economic downturn from COVID. Thanks to several new ministry partners, I was able to receive the matching grant! I’m so grateful to God and everyone who is helping us gear up for the summer and fall!

May 19, 2021

As the 2020-21 academic year draws to a close, I look back and marvel at God’s grace in the GFM Pacific Area. In a year where the soil of campus ministry was parched, I am grateful for the fruitful harvest. God has provided in the midst of scarcity!

The struggle to see

InterVarsity’s unique contribution to the church is to point to God’s big vision for the university and the world. The seeds of almost every modern renewal movement in the church and society were planted among students and faculty who became world changers. But this year, it was very challenging to cast God’s big vision to students and faculty. We could not meet in person or be physically present on the campus.

Hello boomer

Another challenge came from the racial reckonings and political polarization. These compelled many Christians to do some soul searching about their silence and complicity. While most young adult Christians sought to engage these issues, there was also a strong backlash from other Christians (usually older). At odds with one another over issues like Critical Race Theory, President Donald Trump, religious liberty, etc., confusion reigned and has made efforts to bear witness to Jesus very difficult.

Nevertheless, I’m happy to report that the students and faculty in the Pacific Area have made a valiant and successful (I would argue) effort to built communities and engage this cultural and historical moment. For some, the digital platform actually enhanced community and learning. Here are some examples of how God has been at work in our area:

Laboratory for World Changers

As our team and students worked diligently to produce digital community and learning opportunities, it gradually dawned on me that we were becoming a laboratory for world changers. In addition to our on-going efforts to build communities of disciples, we were able to introduce a number of relevant topics for the discipleship of the mind and world engagement.

All of our recorded learning spaces (e.g., student-led Square Inch Stories) can be found at the GFM Pacific YouTube channel but I’d like to highlight some here:

  • Hawaii GFM Team Leader (starting July 2021) Dan Stringer led an online discussion about his forthcoming book, Struggling with Evangelicalism (IV Press, 2021) and offered frameworks for understanding and navigating American evangelicalism (all the good and bad).
  • Ron Sider, past Executive Director of Christians for Social Action (formerly Evangelicals for Social Action) spoke to us about Christian engagement in politics in light of the 2020 Presidential election.
  • We co-hosted with Black Scholars and Professionals Ministries In Search of Shalom, a seven-part webinar series exploring Christian perspectives on a variety of social justice issues.
  • During the annual grad winter conference, speakers from different parts of the world (Fletcher Mantandika, Jenna Sanchez, Dr. Tan Lai Yong, and Dr. Grace May) helped our students consider how to share the gospel in a changing (post-pandemic) world.
  • At our faculty/staff conference, Dr. Timothy Muehlhoff (Biola University) offered challenging, yet encouraging, ideas for Christian faculty and university staff to engage the post-Christian campus with winsome hospitality. A religious liberty panel (which included IV’s Greg Jao) discussed how Christians can navigate the muddled line between advocacy for religious freedom versus Christian privilege.
  • Jamie Duguid, a Ph.D. candidate, led a discussion about engaging Systemic Evil in Genesis 47:13-27 and challenged dualistic thinking about good and evil in society and in the church.
  • Tony Payne from Australia, and author of The Trellis and the Vine, led a discussion about the raison d’etre of Christian life – namely, to help all people move closer to God’s redemptive purpose in the world through Jesus.
  • On June 18, David Moe, Ph.D. candidate at Asbury Theological Seminary, will discuss how the current political crisis in Myanmar unfolded, how people of faith there are responding to the military coup, and how we can help. Register at
  • This summer, our team is developing Summer Connections, a lab for grad students who seek to become world changers. A mini-conference and a series of electives will be offered. More details are forthcoming.

Honoring Our Students

Our students have been so impressive this year! I’d like to draw attention to just a few of them, especially those who are completing their studies (my apologies for leaving out many other wonderful leaders).

  • Anna Dahlgren and Jackson Yan carried the torch and kept the Grad Fellowship at UC Davis alive through some very lean years. Over the past two years, the fellowship grew and new leaders are ready to step in now that Anna and Jackson have completed their studies!
  • Stanford’s IV Grad has had a history of leadership excellence and the past two years was no exception. Even after campus staff minister Wendy Quay’s departure, the students have continued to cultivate a thriving presence. Jonathan Love, who has served as President for multiple years, is completing his studies. Kudos to him for his impressive leadership!
  • Janice Goh has effectively led the scattered fellowship groups at UCSF for the last three years. She has cast a vision for a unified student witness on campus while engaging the grad students in the Pacific Area. As an international student from Singapore, her enthusiasm for building Christian witness has been infectious even as she has joyfully provided leadership at the Winter Grad conference.
  • Finally, another international student from Singapore, Esmond Lee, will conclude his first year as Area Dean of Students. He anticipates finishing up his studies at Stanford at the end of the year. We have been blessed by his gregarious spirit as he connected grad leaders from our six chapters and helped coordinate our area-wide initiatives.

God is cultivating an emerging generation of Christian world-changers in the Pacific Area who can respond to the most urgent concerns in the church and the world. It’s such a blessing to be a part of this growing spiritual eco-system of grad students, faculty, alums, friends, and churches!

Prayer Requests

  • I’ve enjoyed the many conversations I’ve had with ministry partners this past year. We’ve discovered that so many of our fellow Christians are feeling alienated from the institutional church. Please pray for us as we attempt to find more opportunities to minister to alums and peers who are feeling “done” with the church.
  • Dr. Jane Hong (Occidental College) and I co-hosted this season of Centering, the Podcast of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Asian American Center. The ten episodes that aired this spring gave attention to the history of Asian American Christianity. I’ve posted summaries and links to the podcast here. Please pray that these episodes will be a helpful source of encouragement!
  • On my birthday, I received a book contract from IV Press Academic to write a history of Asian American Christianity. The book is tentatively titled, Asian American Christianity and the Quest for a Better Country. Please pray for me to complete the manuscript on time!
Working on new book!

I’d like to conclude with some words that have encouraged me this year:

When we suffer anything for Christ’s sake, we should do so not only with courage, but even with joy.
If we have to go hungry, let us be glad as if we were at a banquet.
If we are insulted, let us be elated as though we had been showered with praises.
If we lose all we possess, let us consider ourselves the gainers.
If we provide for the poor, let us regard ourselves as the recipients.
Do not think of the painful effort involved, but of the sweetness of the reward;
And, above all, remember that your struggles are for the sake of our Lord Jesus.

John Chrysostom

Transform our memory, Lord, so that whenever we encounter suffering for your sake, we will recall all the saints who have gone before us whose courage and faith brought us this far. Amen.

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