Hello fellow CCHS alumni! Or, perhaps I should say G’day or こんにちわ, if I try to better fit my current context. At any rate, it’s a pleasure to be writing you, reflecting on the past 16 years since graduating. Time is a funny thing, isn't it? On the one hand, it’s a bit of a shock to think it’s been so long. Sometimes I’ll be reminded of something from high school, and it feels like it could’ve just happened last week (and, as is the way with these things, usually the more embarrassing it was, the more vivid the memory is…). On the other hand, sometimes high school feels like another life, not only distant in time, but where I can barely recognize who I used to be, what I used to strive for, and where I wanted to go in life. That said, judging from where I’m currently at, I can certainly see how my time at CCHS contributed to laying a foundation for who I am now, the values I hold dear, and the direction I’m trying to go.
Leaving the aforementioned embarrassing moments aside for another time and place, there are certainly other fond memories that come to mind, if I permit myself to reminisce. I remember happily driving through snowy, yet-to-be-plowed streets at 6:45am to get to Mr. Altena’s zero-hour A.P.U.S.H. class, looking forward to the time with everyone else crazy enough to get to school so early. I remember finally enjoying math in Dr. Roose’s Physics class, because, at last, I could see a practical use for it. And I remember the ambition I felt taking Mrs. Medema’s art projects a bit too far, sometimes failing catastrophically for it, and sometimes excelling–but all the while being able to push my artistic limits.
Upon graduating in 2006, I started at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and soon navigated to the Industrial Design program, in which I got my undergrad degree. All the while, I got involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and they nurtured many a seed planted in CCHS chapels and Bible classes, which then began to sprout into a passion for ministry work. I will always be indebted to the IV community, for the ways they reflected Jesus’ unconditional love, not only teaching about Christian faith, but living it out, as well. As such, after graduating from UIUC, I joined InterVarsity Staff for two years, wanting to pass along the good things I experienced to the next generation.
After that time, God closed the door for continuing on as IV Staff, and instead began leading me to other ministry work. This is when I worked to earn a Masters of Arts in Religion, and also heard about the need for missionaries in Japan. Have you heard that, despite Japan allowing the practice of Christianity since 1873, only about 0.29% of the population self-identifies as Protestant believers? Where you would need the equivalent of six Tokyo's (the largest metropolitan area in the world) to fit America’s 210 million Christians, Japan’s six hundred thousand Christians wouldn’t even be able to match the whole of Will County, Illinois. Compelled by this need, I started going on short-term missions trips to Japan, exploring the option of becoming a long-term missionary.
While on the field, I met my wife-to-be. Her being a Hong Kong-born Australian, we’re now back in Sydney, with me awaiting Australian citizenship; doing pastoral work at Chinese Australian Baptist Church Thornleigh; finishing up a Masters of Divinity; and learning how to be a dad. Once we’re finished making Sydney our homebase, we’re hoping to make our way back to long-term missions in Japan. Even though my high school-self would’ve never imagined God sending me in a trajectory that would have me waking up in the morning to laughing kookaburras, studying Biblical Hebrew, or missing relaxing in the local hot springs, if one of CCHS’s missions statements is to build a, “community intent on restoring God’s world,” I suppose I can’t be too surprised.