Ministry Update: Reclaiming and Rebuilding

Nov 1, 2021

Dear ministry partners and friends,

I want to thank so many of you for your kind words of support since I announced my father’s passing a few weeks ago. The memorial service went smoothly and our family is gradually feeling renewed from the emotional and physical fatigue that accompanies grief. I hope to have an opportunity to personally respond to each of you in the next few weeks.

Before I share a ministry update, here’s a story about the lost and found diploma…

My brother, Stephen, found my missing diploma.
My brother, Stephen, found my missing diploma.

My mom proudly displayed her three sons’ doctorate degrees on her bedroom wall in her home in Brooklyn in the 1990s. But we thought my parents lost the diplomas when they moved to California more than twenty years ago (unlike my brothers, I gave her my original diploma). Over the years, I thought my diploma was lost forever. But as my brother and I cleaned out my dad’s garage a couple of weeks ago, we found them! Few words can describe the joy of recovering the only physical evidence of my Ph.D.! Hmm. Now I wonder why my dad never cleaned out his garage.

Reclaiming and Rebuilding

In the latest issue of the Atlantic, Peter Wehner observes that “the evangelical church is breaking apart.”

The root of the discord lies in the fact that many Christians have embraced the worst aspects of our culture and our politics. When the Christian faith is politicized, churches become repositories not of grace but of grievances, places where tribal identities are reinforced, where fears are nurtured, and where aggression and nastiness are sacralized. The result is not only wounding the nation; it’s having a devastating impact on the Christian faith.

As our campuses gingerly re-opened, I’m happy to report that we have experienced an uptick of interest in our grad ministries. For example, New Student Outreach at Stanford, Berkeley, and UC Davis have gathered more new students this quarter than in previous years. The UCSF fellowship has added a third small group for doctoral students, post-docs, residences, and staff.

Yet, many students and faculty we talk to are also befuddled, frustrated, and – in some cases – angry at what is happening in the church (I encourage you to read Wehner’s article).

While there remains an interest in addressing whether Jesus’ claims are true, an emerging question now appears to be whether being part of his Body is desirable. Wehner concludes, “Something has gone amiss; pastors know it as well as anyone and better than most. The Jesus of the Gospels—the Jesus who won their hearts, and who long ago won mine—needs to be reclaimed.”

The church in America (evangelicalism, in particular) is paying the price of willful ignorance of its hunger for status and power. As many ministry leaders look to restart their ministries, it behooves us to reclaim the Jesus of the Gospels and support this generation’s efforts to rebuild faith.

I recognize that not every ministry or lay leader has the luxury of engaging this reclamation and reconstruction effort, but InterVarsity’s Grad and Faculty Ministries is uniquely positioned to help. Would you be interested in a conversation about this? It’d be great to have partners in this endeavor!

Ministry Updates

Discipleship of the mind

Dan Stringer, our Hawaii GFM Team leader, has written his first book, Struggling with Evangelicalism:Why I Want to Leave and What It Takes to Stay. Preorder now at InterVarsity Press. It will be available November 16.

Darren Hsiung, campus staff minister at U.C. Berkeley, shared a three-part series on postmodernism at the Stanford IV Gra Developing a Christian Mind (DCM) Small Group. This small group seeks guidance from God’s word and each other on topics that intersect with their lives and vocations as Christians within their respective disciplines.

I shared a draft chapter from my book on the history of Asian American Christianity with the Stanford IV Grad International Students Small Group in September.

I am also facilitating book club conversations about 20th Century American Christianity. Ministry partners, doctoral students, and IV staff have met twice already.

Faculty Ministries

There will not be a Spring Nor Cal Faculty Conference next year. Dan Stringer and Brennan Takayama, however, are continuing to support and strengthen the island-wide faculty ministries in Hawaii.

Rev. Ryan Bradley, our newly appointed Staff Associate for Faculty Ministries is gathering faculty at UC Merced.

Next Spring, we are planning on coordinating Faculty Roundtables at Stanford and UC Berkeley.

Other updates

Pray for the Stanford IV Grad Fall Retreat next weekend (Nov. 6-7). Sophia Maganalles-Tseng, adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary, will guide us to reflect on “Embodied Witness and Spirituality.”

Field Op Director, Michele Turek, has returned from maternity leave.

We welcome newly appointed volunteers in the area:

Rev. Ryan Bradley is Staff Associate (volunteer) for Faculty Ministries at U.C. Merced. He is also a Pastor at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Merced and was an Assistant Professor in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University

Lori Chang is Staff Associate (volunteer) at U.C. Davis. She grew up in San Jose, California. She is a graduate of UC Davis with a Bachelor’s in English Literature and as well as a secondary teaching credential. Lori spent 20 years as a pastor’s wife in Chinese churches in northern and southern California. She is the spouse of Team Leader, Howard Chang, and the proud mom of 3 adult children. She enjoys gardening, taking deep dives into Scripture, and discipling graduate students.

Rev. John Woo is soon to be appointed Staff Associate at Stanford IV Grad. John was formerly Pastor at Millbrae Bible Church and has twenty years of pastoral experience in Northern and Southern California. He also served at Ethnos Asia Ministries, a ministry for persecuted churches. He is married to Cynthia and they have two high schoolers Caleb and Kira.

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