Imagine a little goofy, energetic Chinese boy running around the streets of the most populous metropolis in the world, Shanghai, China. That's me when I was a boy, and a spoiled, only child I was! My parents, grandmother, and I emigrated from Shanghai to Houston in 1980 when I was seven. I came from a Buddhist family background and had never even heard the name "Jesus" until I came to America.
On a hot, humid afternoon in Houston during the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I mysteriously (or rather, miraculously) found a Bible sitting on the floor of the garage, picked it up, read it, and wholeheartedly trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my Leader and Forgiver, from that day forward. To this day I still don’t know who put that Bible there! I remember back then I had trouble sleeping; even as a child I worried about death and what would become of me after I died. After I accepted Christ as my Savior, I knew that I had eternal life with God, and now even as I frequently travel and sleep in hotels, I can pretty much fall asleep "on-demand." 1 John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear.” Because I have a relationship with God through Jesus and have assurance my sins are forgiven and I’ll spend eternity with Him in heaven, I can live and sleep with no fear.
Life was going great! After graduating from Rice University, I was on a fast track as a corporate executive in the thriving technology industry and had a full social life. However, in the summer of 2002, something happened to me that really tested my faith and made my think about my true purpose in life. One day that summer, my parents and grandma took a road trip from Houston to Dallas to visit me. En route on I-45, a huge thunderstorm struck, they lost control of the car on I-45, and all three, mom, dad, and grandma, were killed on impact. I was of course devastated, but I vividly felt God gripping me and comforting me in a supernatural way. I mourned and am still mourning, but God gave me inner peace and joy and hope that kept me going in life. I took an extended time off from the fast-paced corporate world to mourn, rest, and ask God, “Why?” During this difficult time, God’s loving arms embraced me with His love, strength, and comfort.
Today, I realize that God is still sovereign, He’s in control, and that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). The Holy Spirit led me to realize that life is so fragile, I have such limited time on earth, and I must use what’s left of my time to make an impact for God's glory by sharing His love and forgiveness, and nurturing spiritual lives in my local and global community. That's what led me to answer God’s firm calling to full-time Christian ministry. I still live today as testimony that God is always faithful and sovereign, and even though I miss my parents and grandma so much, and I don't have all the answers, I still believe that God knows what He's doing.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul tells us, "It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:11-12). Since accepting God's call to vocational ministry, I've served with Evangelism Explosion International (EE), equipping believers to share the love and forgiveness of Christ in a loving, non-threatening way, and designing the XEE relational evangelism curriculum to equip the younger generations for lifestyle evangelism. When God brought me back to Houston in 2008, I got to serve as Minister of New Initiatives and Minister of Evangelism at Houston's First Baptist Church. With both of these organizations, I've had the privilege of traveling the globe, from Arkansas to Spain, from Fiji to China, learning the cultures, connecting with the people, and sharing the Gospel. Business, ministry, and personal opportunities took me to some of the great cities of the world, and as I was always traveling, I never really felt rooted anywhere.
In April of this year (2011), I was finally convicted by God to put down my roots in Downtown Houston, Texas. Our church leadership had decided to plant a campus in Downtown Houston, and I was on the planning team for this new missional endeavor. We had been praying and looking for awhile for who would be our Campus Pastor, although I never considered myself up for the role. I had spent an entire Saturday in Downtown Houston (although I was living on the westside at the time), spending quality time with friends. As I went through the day, I was realizing that I am in the Downtown area all the time. Downtown is where all my close friends are. This is where I spend all my free time when I'm not traveling. That is where my "tribe" is! I strongly felt God's leading that night to give leadership to our Downtown Campus. On the following Monday, I shared this prompting from God with our Senior Pastor Gregg Matte, and he told me, "You wouldn't believe it, but just 30 minutes ago I felt God telling me you're going to be our Campus Pastor!" So we both got down on our knees to pray and ask for God's confirmation, and He confirmed His calling to me to both of us in the next week. Later, I found out that that very night I felt God's calling, Pastor Gregg was driving through the streets of Downtown and praying specifically for God to bring us that Campus Pastor. God works in wonderful ways.
I feel humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to shepherd the people of our church's first campus in Downtown Houston. I am not more holy or godly than my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but I'm so excited to be called by God to serve in this missional endeavor, bringing the unique global urban experience I've had to lay my roots down in Downtown Houston and lead this local congregation to serve our local diverse, dense, and asymmetrical urban community together for the glory of God. Jesus Christ established the local church, and the local church is the hope of the world. I stand ready and willing to do whatever it takes to be used of God to love, shepherd, equip, and mobilize our Downtown church family to be a voice of hope in Downtown Houston and beyond.