A not so surprising, but very good announcement!

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. – Luke 2:1

December 22, 2021

Merry Christmas ministry partners, friends and family!

The not-so-surprising, very-good news is that I’ve been invited to serve as co-Executive Director of New College Berkeley (starting in January). This will be a quarter time position, so I will continue in my role as GFM Pacific Area Director in a slightly reduced capacity. Craig Wong, the other co-Executive Director, is a former InterVarsity staff who has devoted more than 20 years to Grace Urban Mission, a San Francisco church related non-profit that served the marginalized in the Mission District.

New College Berkeley is a Christian Study Center next to the U.C. Berkeley campus. It is an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union and a member of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. Since its founding in 1977 NCB has served undergraduates, graduate students, and lifelong learners with wide-ranging courses, conferences, seminars, lectures, and retreats aimed at renewing minds, deepening faith, and shaping vocation.

Not ready for Prime Time Co-Executive Directors of New College Berkeley

By taking on this role, Craig and I hope to extend NCB’s service of providing discipleship resources and reflective spaces for students and faculty. We also hope to be a “third space” for local church leaders to gather and envision a future for a renewed, constructive Christianity.

On a personal note, NCB offers me opportunity to re-engage academic and ecclesial spaces where I hope to share my research. For example, I believe that my book on Christianity in Asian American history can benefit both church and academy.

Together, with great dependency on God’s wisdom, Craig and I look forward to discerning New College Berkeley’s future service for church and society. Would you pray for us as we transition into our new responsibilities? Let me know if you would like to stay abreast of NCB news and programs.

Please also continue to pray for my ministry with InterVarsity. God has provided an excellent team for the GFM Pacific Area, so I am confident that a slight reduction of my work hours will not hinder our ministry to the university. My budget remains the same, however. So would you renew and possibly increase your donations, or refer me to potential supporters?

Thanks again for your continued interest in my ministry and care for me!


Merry Christmas from Tim and Betty (Jack London Square, Oakland, CA)

A not so surprising, but very good year
2021 was supposed to be restorative. We were supposed to return to some sense of normalcy. But it wasn’t and we didn’t. Actually, that’s not so surprising. Some things, in my opinion, got worse. Ask me about that later, but for this update, I’d like to say that it was still a very good year.

On the family front

— we celebrated my dad’s life and ministry. He died of natural causes on September 26 at the grand old age of 93. As his health declined over the summer, our entire family rode an emotional roller coaster.  But the outpouring of love and appreciation for his ministry gave us great comfort.

— Betty was the Tseng Family Philanthropist of the Year in 2021.  A simple project of salvaging a friend’s Monstera plant turned into a fund raising campaign for the Alameda County Food Bank and a local church’s building fund. After months of propagating plants and swap meeting neighbors and strangers, she raised over $1,200. To Betty, we give the Philly Award.

— Our adult sons. Well, nothing new to report this year. We’re just grateful (and a little prideful) for their continued commitment to nurture their faith and values.

With InterVarsity

— GFM Pacific Area subscribed to Seminary Now, “a streaming video platform that delivers exclusive biblical, theological, and practical ministry training from a diverse group of leading educators and thought leaders.” Seminary Now partners with Northern Seminary, Missio Alliance, IV Press, and others. Our students, faculty, and ministry partners are welcome to access Seminary Now. Just let me know if you’re interested.

— The Stanford IV Grad Fall Retreat was held at Mount Hermon Conference Center on November 6-7. It was a delight (and sometimes a bit awkward) to have our first in-person retreat in a two years! Dr. Sophia Magallanes-Tsang spoke on the theme of “Embodied Witness.”

— Betty and I had a Thanksgiving meal with GFM alum Bowen Bao and Jimmy Lee at our home. We consider it a privilege to be a small part of the journeys of today’s young adults – especially as they navigate life with a bit of faith. Equipping the next generation of Christians for a Post-Christendom America will be the most exciting challenge for church leaders today.

— A cadre of PhD students, IV staff, and ministry partners have participated in the 20th Century American Christianity Book Club that I facilitated this fall. We will be starting again in January. A better understanding of the history of Christianity in 20th Century America has helped us interpret the current state of religion in the U.S. Let me know if you’re interested in joining us for this informal, but informative, lunch discussion group!

— Dan Stringer, our Hawaii GFM Team leader’s book, Struggling with Evangelicalism: Why I Want to Leave and What It Takes to Stay has been published! Order your copy at InterVarsity Press.

Looking forward to 2022

In the winter and spring quarters of 2022, look out for the following activities:

Finding God in Your Field: Grad Winter Conference (Feb. 4-6, 2022 at Redwood Christian Park)Do you ever feel lost as you seek purpose and passion, in your grad work and in your life as a follower of Jesus? As the world hungers for a connection between purpose and passion, we find the interconnectedness of both in Christ. Start the journey with us to find the connections between your deepest beliefs and your daily work. We’ll draw on The Scholar’s Compass, a guide toward thriving as a Christian scholar and impacting the world for good. The Scholar’s Compass will be provided for each conferee. The Early Bird discount registration deadline is January 10th. More Information and Registration at: https://tinyurl.com/gradwinterconference21

—  Faculty Roundtables at Stanford and UC Berkeley (Spring 2022)Depending on how the recent COVID situation develops, we hope to coordinate Faculty Roundtables at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley this Spring. The John Templeton funded  Roundtables gather faculty and administrators over a meal to hear and discuss presentations about Religion and Science. As a service to the university, FRTs offer an informal opportunity to talk and build relationships. The model for these discussions comes from the Cambridge Roundtable on Science and Religion which began in 2002. Since then, the model has been used to host thousands of discussions on campuses like Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Brown. Have a look at Northwestern’s virtual roundtable.

— I’ll be teaching Christianity in Asian-American History, a 6-week online course, for Candler Foundry at Emory University next Spring. The classes will be held Mondays 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM ET from April 18 – May 23, 2022. Please register at: bit.ly/asianamericanhistoryspr22

Grace and Peace to you and your loved ones!

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.

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 tinyurl.com/DavidMoe.
  • 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.

To make, renew, or increase your contribution to my ministry, go to: http://givetoiv.org/Tim_Tseng

Happy Lunar New Year! Hope > Anxiety

Dear ministry partners,

I want to wish you a Happy Lunar New Year, even though it feels more somber this year. Despite the recent rash of violence against Asian Americans (which has continued unabated since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.), I will still celebrate with millions of people around the world. Despite the suffering of so many, let us not give up hope. Jesus Christ remains our reason for hope.

In San Francisco, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee died January 30th after getting shoved to the ground. Also, on Oakland, a 91-year-old was brutally pushed from behind. And in San Jose, a 64-year-old woman was robbed in the middle of the afternoon. [image from https://www.instagram.com/jdschang/%5D

Learn More

Generations of Americans have been taught to see Asian Americans (if we are seen at all) as outsiders and foreigners. Consider this testimony by Rev. O.C. Wheeler (who is regarded as a founding father of California Baptists). His public testimony against Chinese immigrants helped lead to the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Here are some quotes:

the presence of the Chinese has a resistless tendency to degrade labor…, to pollute morals, to destroy virtue among our people. (p. 14)

…under the most favorable circumstances, they fail to show the first step toward assimilation, or the least desire to become Americans. (p. 16)

for every one Christian we have gained from their ranks, they have utterly ruined the morals and led into infamous ways fifty of our sons and daughters. (p. 24)

These perceptions were burned into the American psyche and provided the excuse to treat Asian Americans as unfeeling, less-than-human objects – playthings for bullies. Thus, even our elderly are beaten up because they are easy targets. So, no, mocking Chinese accents and making jokes like “Kung Flu” are not harmless.

Despite anti-Asian racism, hope never fades when we can look to Jesus and follow him. God is raising up a new generation of disciples among college and grad students and faculty. InterVarsity’s campus ministry staff is the vanguard of a new evangelicalism that will not bow to the Baal of Christian nationalism. This rising generation is seeking, praying, and working for a spiritual renewal that points to God’s kingdom of right relationships and shalom.

This is one of the reasons why your support of my ministry with InterVarsity is so important. Yes, we invite people on campuses into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. But we also want to bear witness to the healing that Jesus’ kingdom offers to the brokenness in our congregations and society.

(Keep scrolling down to see the recent work that we’re doing to advance the cause of Christ. I’d love to hear back from you!)

And so, because our hope is in Jesus, I can wish you a very Happy Lunar New Year! Please let me know how you are doing and how I can pray for you!

Ministry Highlights

Telling stories of Asian American Christianity

I wrote a series articles on the history of Chinese American Christianity the last issue of Chinasource Quarterly. View at this link.

Dr. Jane Hong and I will co-host a podcast series on the history of Asian American Christianity for Centering, the podcast of Fuller Seminary’s Asian American Center. It will air next week!

Virtual Winter Conference

Thirty-four grad students joined our first ever Pacific Area virtual Winter Conference last weekend. We were blessed with inspiring messages about living out the gospel in a changing world! Thank you for your prayers during a difficult pandemic challenged academic year. Please pray for our chapters as they seek new leaders for the next academic year.

Race, Justice, and Immigration

The next In Search of Shalom session is Sunday, February 21 at 4:00 pm PST! ISOS is a multi-month book discussion series allowing for examination of racial justice from a Christian perspective in a variety of realms. Join us on February 21st as we discuss the topic of Race, Justice, and Immigration. For details and to register to take part in this conversation go to this link!

Christian Faculty Conference

Please join us Friday evening March 12th and Saturday morning March 13th for the Northern California Christian Faculty and Staff Conference, co-sponsored by InterVarsity and Faculty Commons! We welcome participants throughout the Western states and Hawai’i to join us, so please invite your colleagues who are outside of Northern California. This conference is hosted by GFM Pacific, Cru’s Faculty Commons, and IV Pacific Region. Click below for details.

For more information and to sign up, go to this link.

Matching Grant Success!

Thanks to the 15 new partners whose pledges allowed me to get a matching grant! Each new partner pledged at least $75 a month for 2021 for the 15/75/21 campaign. This grant will help defray an anticipated loss in financial support and free me up to devote more time to ministry. New partners are still sought, so please consider making a pledge or donation at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#21447.

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