God is With Us

Happy April!

The weather is finally looking beautiful again!  75 and Sunny?  YES, PLEASE! 🙂  Hope you’re enjoying the weather and company as you remember God’s faithfulness to us.  Easter is this weekend!  But every day is a great time to remember that He has overcome ALL sin and ANYthing that could separate us from His love and having a relationship with Him!!  And I am definitely relishing in the fact that He really is with us!

This month’s prayer letter is out!!  Please enjoy it: March 2012 prayer update!  And if you enjoy it so much, please pass it along to someone else to bless!  Thank you so much for praying and praising the Lord alongside me!  🙂

You rock:

Get it?? 😉

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Goodbye.

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I’m not good with goodbyes.  I swing from either SUPER emotional or insensitively numb.  Regardless, I rarely allow goodbyes to honor and do justice to everything prior to that… simply because of fear and the dread of the pain that’s felt in grieving ANY end.

Earlier this week, I found out that my friend was hit by a drunk driver and found dead later.  He was 23.

I can’t breathe when I think of the fact that he’s gone.  Not just that he’s gone… but that I may never see him again.  I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if he’s relishing in the beautiful, glorious room Jesus prepared for him… or… No… I don’t even want to consider the alternative.

A news report asked the question: “What if…?” in regards to if someone stopped to call the ambulance or the police right after the accident, could he still be alive?  I recently saw a clip from Disney’s movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian where Lucy (the youngest of the humans who travel in and out of Narnia) asks Aslan (the lion): “If you had come, would all of those people still have died?” and Aslan responds: “There’s no way to know what would have happened…”

So much tragedy has come to my attention in painful, glaring darkness.  I am perplexed and saddened to my core.  Suddenly, I feel challenged to trust in God’s goodness… that is TRIUMPHANT over evil, darkness, sin, and death… right?  It MUST be true!

Sorry, there’s no real “point” to this post… there’s just so much on my mind.  One thing I’m recognizing: The weight and urgency of my job and calling.  There is a finite time to our earthly lives and to people’s openness to the Gospel and “sound-teaching” as Paul describes in 2 Timothy.  I’m incredibly privileged, and moved… but also just very… mmm… what’s the word for the feeling you get when someone’s entrusted something incredibly precious to you like a child or expensive jewelry or a car or something?  Pressured?  Weighty?  Scared?  I don’t know.

Please pray for the Funai family as they grieve the loss of a beloved son and brother.  Please also pray for the rest of his family and friends who also mourn the loss of an exceptional individual.

Thank you for investing your and my life in eternal things.

Leap Year!?

Leap Day is old news… on to March!  February was a long, reflective month.  And I’m so grateful for it, but I’m glad we’re in March!  This is the verse I’m clinging to this month as I continue to trust God to raise up monthly prayer and financial partners: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 2 Thess. 5:24 (ESV)

Thank you so much for your prayers and partnership!!!!

February’s prayer letter is LIVE!! February 2012 – Whitney update print  Read it while it’s still hot–or while you still are.  Ew, I’m sorry… this blog will never have another cheesy/gross pick-up line ever again.  I promise!

Confession: I Haven’t Been a Total Jeremy Lin Bandwagon-er

I have a confession to make: I’ve not been a huge fan of the Jeremy Lin craze.  

While at first this seems like a harmless, no-big-deal sort of thing, after I’ve reflected over the past few days, God’s shown me more of the poor condition of my heart.  And I’m embarrassed that I let that happen.

Initially, yes, I too was blown away by Lin’s sudden success–more because as a first-time starter in the NBA his stats were unusual (I’m a retired Fantasy Basketball-er) and he continued to perform at an extremely high level!  And though I definitely noted his Asian Americanness and appreciated commentary on the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” I could feel myself refuse to identify with this part of his story.  I would not allow myself to feel any pride in the fact that Lin’s Asian heritage was shedding any light onto the collective Asian American story.  I even joked that Lin actually wasn’t breaking any stereotypes within the Asian American context: he went to Harvard, he’s excelled in athletics, he’s a good son… etc.

Then a completely separate event showed me that what was coming out of my heart and mouth regarding Lin and his success was cynicism and denial.  

An Asian American friend gave me some word suggestions as I tried to formulate some sentence on my prayer letter.  Though they gave me some, they seemed confused.  In my ignorance and idiocy I teased them for not understanding what I was asking.  Later, I found out that they felt hurt because of my teasing and also because my teasing brought to the surface an insecurity of theirs regarding their grasp of English.

As soon as I heard of their experience, I felt deep remorse.  But it wasn’t just for them and for the pain I caused them.  I started remembering how my mother told me she was teased for not knowing English and interactions where friends would comment on my dad’s accent, and I felt I had to agree even though I never thought he had one.  My friend shared how they felt for their own parents and how they may have been teased or taken less-seriously because of their understanding of English.  And the experiences of people asking me how I learned to speak English so well, or when kids in school used to ask me how to speak Chinese and I felt the pressure to lie and make up sounds to make them leave me alone felt so real again.

These very real memories and painful situations ARE a part of my story.  Though I may not have directly experienced them all, they are instances that I share in as I choose to love my parents and love my friend.  And though my heart desires redemption, I instinctively went to denial as the way to give the pain less power.  By being cynical, I believe I become “untouchable” and “unfazed” by those types of experiences.  But I realized that if I deny that those painful experiences matter, then I deny any chance of redemption and healing.  I deny myself the possibility of forgiveness and growth, as well as deny others the possibility of understanding and reconciliation.

A ministry partner recently told me of their excitement about Jeremy Lin.  And I’ll never forget how she looked when after I said, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool what’s been happening to him.”  Her eyes, very serious, her lips, trembling as she said, “No.  It’s about time people knew what it’s like to be Asian American.  You’ve grown up in a different generation, where there are more of us now.  But in my life and your parents lives growing up, people didn’t want to hear our story.”

I’m sad and incredibly sorry to say that I was so careless.  And that I disguised my carelessness as being phlegmatic.  I’m sad that I chose to serve myself and the “bliss” of ignorance instead of sharing in my friend’s journey… his parents’ journey… my own parents and grandparents’ journey… Lin’s journey.  I’m sad that those experiences are present in my own life too and that we still have so far to go for those misunderstandings to become real arenas of dialogue and redemption.

But I’m grateful for grace through Jesus Christ forgiving me that allows my friend to forgive me and allows me to forgive myself.  I’m grateful for the pioneering of people like my parents and that ministry partner.  And I’m grateful too for those experiences as they continue to teach me how I need to love and suffer with others.  But most of all I’m hopeful for God to heal.  I’m hopeful for His Kingdom to continue to be established on this earth… within the Asian American community and beyond.  And ultimately hopeful for when there will be no more tears… nor pain… and the former things will have passed away… (Rev. 21:4).

Epic Conference Update: PART I

Note: These are true stories, but I may have omitted names for their privacy.  Oh, and they’re stories and hopefully will read as such.  Enjoy!

Home Depot is like Narnia (of the beloved C.S. Lewis series).  I’ve set foot in perhaps 5 Home Depots in my lifetime and have ogled the rows of strange, hard-core, man stuff (this is not meant to be a sexist comment… that’s just what my untrained eyes/mind thinks of it all as) as if I’m looking at speaking animals.  Thus, it’s not surprising when every Home Depot employee at the store asks me if I’m lost or need help finding something.  (I’ve learned my face–which in many ways is my nemesis–will never help any poker games and will always give away my wonder and confusion.)  And in my pride, I will always say, “No!  Why!?  Are you racist?!”  (JK, I don’t ever say that.)

I voluntarily went on three Home Depot adventures within the last month.  Rope lights were easy enough to find.  But then where else could I buy chalkboard paint, cable ties, and a sponge roller in one convenient location where I could have all the items in my clutches immediately?  The internet?!  No, thank you!  Five orange-vested workers helped me find my way!

After Home Depot, my next adventure was locking myself in my frigid apartment (we don’t turn on the heater… c’mon, why pay money for heat when I could just wear my snowboarding jacket indoors?!) for eight hours with boba milk tea to assemble a word out of white rope lights.

Photo by Raymond Gao

“Awaken” in cursive lettering shines above a cardboard cut-out of the San Francisco skyline. And because of the blue backdrop behind the rope light sign, the Epic Conference worship team has a bit of a blue tint to them.  That blue glow is the only light in the ballroom.  The lead singer with arms raised and eyes closed cries into the microphone: “I give myself away… I give myself away so You can use me…”

Main-speaker, Pastor Brandon Ahu, comes up and asks the crowd, “Who wants God more than your insecurities?  Who doesn’t want this world to have a hold on them anymore?  Who wants God more today than you did yesterday?”

“Awaken” shines upon a hundred hands raising.  Not every hand looks confident or strong.  “Awaken” shines upon a student, who I know from CSU Long Beach, her head buried in her hands.  She brings her head up out of her hands.  “Awaken” illuminates her tear-soaked face–and mine–as she slowly raises her fingers, her hand, her arm…both arms! and shouts to the Lord, “I give myself away…”

Epic Conference Update: Preview

Going to Chinatown in San Francisco to share our faith

I couldn’t condense this year’s Epic Conference into one prayer letter… unless you all want a 45 page letter.  (Yes, I know you all would read it anyway!)  So, I’ll give you a quick preview here and you can read the rest soon in your mailboxes (both virtual and out in front of your houses)!

Today is all about condensing, so let’s just say that God did an ENORMOUS work this weekend at Epic Conference.  Yes!  Oh, we can go shorter:

But God,…

-(Eph. 2:4)

People trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior for the first time!  People shared of their life-changing experiences with Jesus for the first time!  People shared encountered God for the first, second, fifty-fourth, eight-hundredth time!!  College students–who have every opportunity to choose the world and not God–raised their hands to say that they want God MORE than approval from the world, their friends, their families… they choose God!

Wait–there’s more.  It gets more personal, it gets more intimate and specific and uniquely, devastatingly beautiful.  Please wait for more to come!  Please stay tuned as I show you what God’s calling me to share with you of how crazy He is and His plan is!