In a very non-Asian move, I’m shamelessly promoting what felt like a self-absorbed post (if you’re going to break cultural taboos, then you might as well do as many as you can). At the API Women in Leadership Conference, I met some very cool people. One of them was the contributor to Mirrored Reflections: Reframing Biblical Characters and the editor of AAWOL. I was quite surprised when she asked me to contribute to AAWOL. Here’s my first entry for them, and you can read more insightful entries from Asian American Women leaders at http://aawolsisters.com/
On a side note, my hope is that someone, who perhaps is going through or has gone through similar experiences would know that they’re not alone. That just because they don’t see the possibilities, doesn’t mean that it is impossible.
This wasn’t my dream.
If you had asked me five years ago what I would be doing in five year’s time, I would have given you a blank, helpless look. What I did know was that I was coming to a crossroads and a choice had to be made. My passion was for the Church but my paycheck came from my day job. For years I had been deeply dissatisfied with what I was doing, but I had no idea what else I could do. I had no vision of what my life could or should be.
Thoughts of going into seminary kept returning to me. If full-time ministry was a goal, it seemed logical to acquire theological training. But I didn’t even know what kind of ministry I wanted to do. The available and acceptable positions I saw for a young woman at that time were for children or youth ministry. Were there no other possibilities? The Chinese church where I came to faith in had no female elders and no female pastors, at least until the time I began considering seminary for they had just hired a female children’s pastor. They rarely had female speakers and when they did, the women “shared” instead of preached. I was discouraged, by people in authority, from considering seminary on account of being a woman. Ministry would be too difficult, they said, because the opportunities would be so few. It seemed that life would be simpler if I just stuck to my job. Still, there was a restlessness in my spirit.
Eventually, after much questioning and probing, I made the jump. In 2008, I quit my work and moved to Vancouver to attend graduate Christian theological studies. I went into the MDiv program because I thought it would open more doors. While studying, to my surprise, I began to receive a call into pastoral ministry. I reacted in panic and terror. It dawned on me that I was the only Canadian Asian woman in the MDiv program. Not only that, I still didn’t know of any Asian Canadian women pastors. I felt alone and the thought of trail-blazing into the battlefields of ministry was anything but encouraging.
What settled my heart was repeated assurance from God. Assurance that I have been called. Assurance that women were welcomed by Jesus. Assurance that my identity as a Chinese-Canadian woman was not a problem for God, but a gift from Him.
So it is with a strange and wonderful sense of awe that I can be composing this post for AAWOL. I am now a newly-installed pastor of a local community church. I haven’t been alone for I have been supported by mentors, friends, and family. Five years ago, I could not dream that I would be here and doing what I’ve been grown to love. This wasn’t my dream, but I have a suspicion that it has been God’s dream and God’s doing all along.