2013 marks my sixth Easter as a Christian. It is significant because this is not where I expected to be. Working with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is not what I had in mind when a freshman at Harvard. But as I look back over the past six years, without a doubt, my decision to follow Jesus was the most significant turning point. I did not do it because it was vogue. In fact, historically, it has never been so. I did not do it because I was coerced, for genuine faith cannot be forced. And I did not do it to fit in, because what happened was quite the opposite.
It was never easy for me. I faced opposition from my family. I feared rejection from my friends who weren’t Christian. My decision was seriously challenged as I encountered a number of faith crises along the way. I was a geology major so I had to wrestle with the Bible, creation, earth history, and evolution. I got entangled in a Christian cult that manipulated me and taught me inaccurate and potentially damaging theology. I struggled to understand how Christianity interacted with other religions, especially Buddhism and Islam. And as I interacted with my same-sex attraction and explored my sexual identity, I was puzzled, troubled, and intrigued with what Scripture had to say about it. All the while, I wondered, “Was I captive to the brainwashing of a false institution?”
In the midst of this all, I faced my own short comings, academically and relationally. I saw with horror my ability to destroy friendships and hurt others with my words and actions. I experienced my capacity to despair at my own failures in my classes and in the lab. And I saw ever more vividly my own hypocrisy and brokenness. With my choice to work as a Christian minister to the college campus, I endured the disappointment of my academic mentor. I carried the weight of my parents’ disapproval. And I battled the shame of asking people for money as I fundraised for my entire budget.
Yet, six years later, I am still a Christian, still desiring to follow after Jesus. And I feel that I should give myself a response to a question that I have frequently asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” I am not doing this to be better than other people. I am not doing this to seek moral high ground. I am not doing this because I desire to inflict pain onto myself. Those would be very unsustainable reasons.
In these six years, I have been continually drawn to the person of Jesus, compelled by his love and inspired by his life. I am constantly captivated by his message of reconciliation of mankind to God and mankind to each other. And I am riveted to the hope of good triumphing over evil and the promise of life eternal. The faith I’ve come to understand is not a blind faith. It is not wishful thinking and not believing something that isn’t true. It is not mental gymnastics to deceive oneself. It is not doublethink. For the mind and the heart cannot be in dissonance. Otherwise, one cannot be at peace.
The historicity of the Bible and Jesus’ resurrection, embedded in time and space and the course of human history, provide me confidence that it is not a figment of someone’s imagination. However, one needs to be aware that no matter how convincing one’s apologetics may be, logical proof of God and proof of the supernatural has eluded mankind. Faith is not just an intellectual pursuit. It involves the mind, the heart, the soul, tradition and experience.
I’ve seen transformation take place in my own life, with my friends and family. I’ve followed Jesus into areas of forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, service, giving, evangelism, prayer, obedience, solitude and reflection. I’ve stepped out in faith, trusting in God when all else seemed contrary. I’ve experienced the robustness of the Christian faith, its internal consistency, and its intellectual sturdiness, which is able to withstand challenges from many sides. I’ve seen how accurately Scripture diagnoses the human condition, and I have been enriched by the deep wisdom within its pages. I’ve been loved by God’s people and I’ve seen God’s image in those who may not know him.
God’s movement is here. In the past six years, there has been 16 students in Harvard’s Asian American Christian Fellowship (HRAACF) who have responded to Jesus’ invitation of discipleship for the first time. Close to 200 students have been involved in the life of the fellowship since 2006. God has provided me with an apartment, a car, roommates, and generous donors who have contributed close to $150,000 in the past three years to fund my ministry with HRAACF. God has cared for me.
As I reflect on Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, the God who made mankind, who came to be one of humankind, who died to cleanse human nature of sin and corruption, who offers his humanity to people so that they may cast off their old selves and live in new life, who sent his Spirit to dwell in people and with people to empower people to live lives of justice, humility and faith, I am in awe. What kind of God is this? What kind of love is this? This God invites me to respond by giving all of my life to him. He can ask this because he has given all of his life to me. In response, it is my hope to continue to answer, “Yes,” in faith, with gratitude, for many years to come.