Author Archives: Jason

About Jason

Remote worker. Stats and analysis nerd. Soccer lover.

Cru

By now many of you have heard that Campus Crusade for Christ has changed its name to “Cru”. In short, I am excited that we’ve moved in this direction. Not because a new name signifies a change in strategy or approach in the way we go about bringing the name of Jesus to the nations, but rather it reflects that we do not let 60 years of “tradition” or “legacy” dictate the way we do  ministry.

Cru originally had its mission to reach every student, which soon changed to let every person have the chance to respond to the Gospel. What began as a college ministry 60 years ago, is now a ministry that covers multiple groups of people from high schoolers to executives in the work force, from families to military personnel. In short, organizationally we have moved far beyond the scope of the college campus way before this name change was even in discussion.

I am grateful that we have leaders willing to drop elements from our name because of the negative connotations that our previous name implied. Because the last thing we want to do is it alienate people from engaging in a conversation with us solely based on our name alone. It is a privilege that TJ and I get to work under such Godly men and women who lead us out of a posture of humility and graciousness.

Many of us understood the reason and the need to drop “Crusade” because of how negatively it has been received in the last couple of decades. But after some market research, we found that the term “Campus” was equally as alienating for non-Christians and our target audience. Interestingly enough, people in the U.S. who are willing to engage in a conversation about Jesus were less interested when they heard the name “Campus Crusade for Christ”. There was push back from the term “Campus” because a corporate executive has nothing to do with the “campus”. If people are already distancing themselves from us based on our name alone, then surely we must rethink and make the necessary changes.

The dropping of “Christ” has absolutely no bearing on our mission or our stance of sharing the Gospel. We have not softened or become ashamed of our Savior. Google doesn’t include the term “search engine” in their company name… or “email”, or “maps” or “docs” yet that does not dictate how they operate. We will continue to proclaim the name of Jesus regardless of what we’re called.

But isn’t “Cru” just a shortening of the word “Crusade”? To us on staff and those who have supported our ministry, yes, that’s what it looks like. But to the rest of America, no. In fact, the name “Cru” had been field tested since the mid-90’s and the results show that “Cru” doesn’t carry the connotations or the connection to “Crusade”.

Cru is not an abbreviation or a just a shortening of Crusade. It’s just a name and a name that I’m excited to start using. I’m often asked what I do for a living and while I am never ashamed tell them what I do and the name of the organization that I work for, I can tell by the looks on their faces that I’ve immediately alienated myself from further conversation. The moment I utter the words “Campus Crusade for Christ”, the response is typically “Oh…” followed by a drop in their face and a disinterest in engaging with me anymore. However, when I’ve said “Epic Movement”, there was an immediate peak in interest. “I’ve never heard of them before… what does Epic Movement do?” And now I am free to explain our mission, vision and my role in the proclaiming God’s Kingdom. I look forward to being able to say “Cru” and having them ask me about it just like “Epic Movement”.

Even our founders, Bill and Vonnette Bright had talked about changing the name back in the 70’s. Here’s a video from Vonette discussing the name change.

Here’s where you can find our official press release on the name change and some answers to the most frequently asked questions.

I was nervous when the new name was announced. After some apprehension and confusion over our new name, I’ve grown to embrace it and I am really excited about it. Because in the end, it’s not about the name of Cru that matters, but the name of Jesus our Savior.


Four Years

Today is a very important day in our lives. Not because some four years ago we made a public declaration before family and friends to love each other for the remainder of our lives, but more so that because this particular day is a time where we set aside time to remember and reminisce, to giggle and laugh, and to celebrate and honor the years we’ve been together. So in honor of our four year anniversary, also now dubbed as “Biscuit Day”, here’s a list of the four ways marriage has changed me:

1. Confidence
If there’s one thing that I don’t lack, it’s self confidence. In the area of words of affirmation, TJ is through the roof with me. I am literally praised for everything that I do. I might be struggling through a work out, and there’s my wife, giving me a pick me up. I can be attempting to flip an egg in the air (which TJ does very well) and even though it’s not a very good flip, I’m still affirmed for my efforts. Then there’s the endless compliments on my looks and how I dress (which TJ does most of my wardrobe shopping). And then of course the smaller and more random things like when I pass a little gas and then almost instantly there’s a “Good job!” headed my way. With all this positive affirmation, it’s impossible for me to not feel good about myself. I have TJ to thank for that.

2. Sensitive

Truth be told, it’s been a bit of a horrifying 18 months for us as a family with death, life and struggles all being a very big part of our lives. I’m happy to say that I’m more sensitive to the pain around me and I’m a lot more careful and cautious with my words. I’m still pretty rough around the edges, but I think I’m a lot better at expressing compassion and sympathy and actually entering the pain altogether thanks to TJ. Which then of course leads to number three.

3. Emotionally Healthier
There’s no secret that one of TJ’s many strengths is her emotional capacity. To contrast that, mine is about the size of a peanut. But in all honesty, in part of our last 18 months and on top of my marriage to the wonderful TJ, I’m actually pretty decent at experiencing and expressing my emotions. For someone who a few years ago could care less about emotions other than tired, hunger and angry, this is quite a huge step.

4. Physically Healthier
For whatever reason, marriage seems to drag men into some significant weight gain. Like beer gut level weight gain. I’m thankful I never went that route. In fact by the end of the first year, I had lost 10lbs just from exercising more and eating healthier. By year four, I’m at a pretty decent level of fitness. It will be a struggle, but I’m confident that I can do a half marathon on a moment’s notice as evidence of 2009. I’m also eating and enjoying healthier options such as whole wheat/multi-grain anything, veggies and salads. Having someone as fit as TJ is a huge drive. It’s absolutely humbling when you’re doing the same work out with your 8 month pregnant wife and she’s tearing through it and you’re doing everything to just keep up. But it’s also an incredible motivator too.

There are certainly many more ways that I’ve changed for the better because of my marriage to TJ. But I’ll leave with just these four for now.

*Photo taken by Jason Huang with Table 4 Photography


Original Design

During my second STINT year in East Asia, I was presented with the question;

“Would you rather experience Heaven or the Garden of Eden?”

I thought about it for a few minutes and landed on Garden of Eden. My only reason was my desire to experience something the way God intended. It was the original design. The intended purpose was for mankind to experience God in that sacred place.

Since then I’ve been trying to apply that thought of experiencing things by its original design. When it comes to food, I’ll want to taste it as the chef who prepared intended his meal to be tasted. I know I have my own preferences and would like to make my own alterations to it, but I feel that I should at least taste it beforehand and it experience that way. When it comes to movies, I’ll do my best to know as little as possible about the movie so I can view it with a blank slate and without any preconceived notions or expectations.

But I realize that as I want to experience more things by its original purpose and design, the more complicated and difficult it is to achieve. The hardest one being relationships. What have I done to tarnish the beauty of marriage by bringing in my own sin into the picture? It hasn’t been six months yet, but I can only imagine what kind of damage I’ve already done to the original design of fatherhood. What about my parents? What have they done that has altered the original design of being a son for me? And most disappointingly of all, because of the exodus from the Garden, I will never experience a relationship with God as He originally purposed.

Obviously there is grace, restoration and redemption that God weaves into our lives that make His story so beautiful. And while I am ever thankful for it, I still sense the loss of never being able to experience some things as they were originally intended to be.


My Savior(s)

Savior – n. a person who saves,  rescues, or delivers.

I’ve been recently trying to recount the different stories in my life; how I met Jesus, how I met TJ, my childhood, that one time where I got into a shouting match with someone at a post office… One story that’s recently come to mind has been my financial journey and a particular theme that continues to resonate in it: I was saved.

One of the best stories ever told is the story of Redemption through Jesus Christ. In one bold move, God sacrificed his Son to save mankind from a condemnation of death and separation from Him. It is an incredible story of love, sacrifice and a restoration of a broken relationship. I am grateful that I have a relationship with God and that I was saved in spite of myself. As I shared earlier, my financial story shares a same theme in that I was saved from my own mess, not because I deserved it, but out of the love of a father for his son.

I was really reckless with my finances in college. Even though I had no job, my bank issued me a credit card with $5,000 to spend “freely” and when my statement came, I was hooked on the minimum payment plan. So instead of paying off my balance as I knew would be the right thing to do, I opted to just pay the minimum and continued my ridiculous spending habits. After a year of this mess and a maxed out credit card, I finally came to grips with myself and decided that enough was enough. I had decided to stop using my credit card and to work on paying my debt down. Being the irresponsible fool that I was, I had even made several late payments and gone over my spending limit to bring my interest rate well into the upper 20’s. I was working but I didn’t have much disposable income either. Can you imagine trying to take down something close to $6,000 in credit card debt with only $150 month? I went to some websites with debt calculators and figured out that I would have it paid off in an astonishing 10 years.

I couldn’t believe it. I was so ashamed and embarrassed with myself. How could I have let myself get into so much trouble? I even contacted a debt consolidation company to try to work on my case and reduce my payment. Just before I finished my paper work to submit it, God placed my own Dad on my heart. A few weeks ago I had watched an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. I have a general role not to glean any life lessons from sitcoms, but this episode in particular really stood out. The premise of the episode was that Ray lost a lot of money in a poker game against his father and it has caused some family tension between the two families. Ray wants to be a man and own up to his loss, Frank wants to teach his boy a lesson and their wives just think the whole thing is silly and for the money to go back to Ray. Halfway through Frank relents and decides to give the money back but his son was adamant not to take it. The lesson that really tugged on my heart came from this scene towards the end:

Ray: For the last time I’m not taking the money. I lost it, that’s all. I’m a big boy alright? If I take the money what kind of message does that send to my kids? That no matter what happened you can go to your father and he’ll make everything ok?

Frank: You’re right. You’re right.

Ray: What, what am I right about?

Frank: You should be able to go to your father, and he should be able to make it ok. [Gives Ray his money back]


Isn’t that so similar to how things should be between us and our Heavenly Father? I’m not talking prosperity gospel here, but in every situation He always desires for us to go Him first. Isn’t that the lesson that God has been trying to teach us our entire lives? Why do we keep trying to scramble and try to dig ourselves out of horrible situations that we’ve gotten ourselves in like the Prodigal Son when the easiest and simplest answer is to just return to the Father?

So I made a decision to share my shame and talk to my dad about my situation and ask if he could help me. I told him that I could pay him back in increments but I probably couldn’t afford him to charge me a high interest rate. And just like any loving father would do, my dad simply wired me the money to pay off my debt and refused repayment from me. In one simple conversation, I was debt free.

Really dad? Just like that?

Really son. Just like that.

Sound familiar? One simple prayer of repentance and acknowledgment that Jesus was my Savior and everything was OK.

Really Father? Just like that?

Really son. Just like that.

I’ve joked around that I love money but there is an element of truth to that statement as well. Money reminds me of my story of being saved. It reminds me of how grateful I am to my dad for saving me, which in turn reminds me of how God saved me from my sins. It reminds me of this touching episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” and what kind of father I want to be to Eden. She should always be able to come to me, and I should be able to make everything ok.

Really daddy? Just like that?

Really sweet Eden, my delight. Just like that.


Family Goals

One of the things that our family likes to do with every new year is set goals for the next twelve months. We’re adamant that we’re not setting resolutions for ourselves. The difference? I feel that a resolution is me making some kind of drastic change in my life, whereas a goal is a continuation of something that I’m already doing, but setting myself some kind of benchmark to hit. But most importantly, these goals need to be reasonably obtainable. An example would be that I don’t read much in terms of books, so setting a goal of reading a book/month is a bit of a reach, instead 2-3 books would be much more reasonable.

So here are just a few of the goals that we have set out for us in 2011:

Health wise, I intend to continue playing soccer but my goal is to complete several challenging training routines to take my fitness levels to another level. I already set aside several days a week for training, so it’s not much of a difference to just increase the intensity. I’m also reopening my pull up goal back from 2009 where I was ambitiously going for 10k for the year. I think I reached somewhere between two to three thousand but then I joined a gym and doing pull ups was no longer important to me. I’m currently shooting for 10/day that I’m home, realizing that I’ll travel quite a lot this year. So far I’ve done 130 in 11 days. A family health goal is for TJ and I to run a race together this year. It could be a marathon or an easy 5k. Either way, we’re going to run something together.

Financially, one of our goals was to get something started for Eden’s college funding and to fund it monthly. A long term goal of ours is to be able to pay for college for all ours children. I know to reach those marks, we need to start saving early and often. I don’t ever want to see my children saddled with any kind of debt because I was too lazy to save for them. We opened an account for her and have funds sent to it automatically every month.

Spiritual goals are lot trickier to deal with since it’s usually pretty difficult to measure. Going to church every Sunday doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve grown any closer to God. So our long term goal is for Eden to see that our faith is very much a part of our lives in everything that we do. So for starters, even though she is way too young to get what’s going on, one of our goals is to pray several times a week together as a family. Small, but hopefully significant in raising our daughter to know the Lord in the future.

What about you? Did you set goals for 2011? What were they?


Generation of Mediocrity

I’m starting to realize that I’m really a 58 year old inside a 28 year old’s body. I have an old soul and I actually really like it. I prefer classical music and jazz over today’s hip hop. I prefer to address my elders by Mr and Mrs unless they explicitly tell me not to. I prefer a broadway show over another CG generated 3D film.

More recently I’m learning that I prefer old hymns over today’s modern worship music. I see the appeal to modern worship. Stylistically, they have adapted and integrated themselves into a more palatable form for secular audiences. But what absolutely driven me off the edge has been the level of mediocrity that qualifies anyone to be a “songwriter” for worship music. This low level of professionalism doesn’t just stop at song writing, it reeks through the entire Christian culture like Lazarus after hanging out in a tomb for four days. (Can’t prove that he smelled, and I would think Jesus would clean him up a bit but you get the idea.)

Here’s the old man in me: This kind of nonsense needs to stop and needs to stop now.

Have people forgotten that God’s people were once so reverent of their Lord that they wouldn’t even utter His name? In particular, the Tetragrammaton YHWH, which is translated “the Lord” in modern Bibles, was never to be spoken. Now? To borrow from TJ, “we are the generation that coined the phrase, ‘Jesus is my homeboy‘”.

We have moved from lyrical proses such as “Be Thou My Vision” and “Holy, Holy, Holy”, to the genius who wrote these lyrics:

“All of life comes down
To just one thing
And that’s to know You oh Jesus
And make You known”

First, I’d like to know where he learned to count. And second, why didn’t the band, editor, anybody interject and say, um… Charlie, those are are actually two things.

Protestants, in their great attempt to distance themselves from the “legalistic” Catholic church, took their separation to the utter extreme. Have people seen Protestant churches and compared them to Catholic cathedrals recently? It’s downright embarrassing. We have moved away from constructing beautiful, holy temples of worship and stained glass windows to barnyards filled with Pepto pink carpet.

In the fashion world, we have Jesus belt buckles.

In the gaming world, we have Guitar Praise and Dance Praise.

We give our kids “holy” pajamas to wear at night.

To top it off, we will then listen to this musical gem on our way to work.

I am certainly not condemning anyone should they choose to wear, play or listen to any of this stuff. I certainly believe that God ultimately cares more about the heart than the actual execution. But can we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? This is the God of the Universe we’re talking about.

Remember when the Texas Longhorns visited the White House after winning the National Championship in 05? Vince Young, our star player, for whatever reason chose to show up in a track suit to meet the Leader of the Free World. I’m sure President Bush didn’t care about his attire, but would any of us really show up to meet the President in anything less than a suit?

At least not all is lost in the Christian world. David Crowder Band can still bring it:


Eden: My Delight

We are so very thankful for the many prayers that we have received in the past four weeks. Many of you prayed for us as TJ went into labor. Even more prayed when we had our little fever scare with Eden a couple weeks ago. One thing that I am constantly praying for is that she will live up to her name.

The funny thing is that we actually named our daughter well before she was even conceived but we had a very purposeful reason for naming her Eden: It is our desire for her to be a “delight” to those around her. But the unique situation with her name is that it isn’t pronounced EE-dən. Instead we are adopting the Hebrew pronunciation which is more similar to AY-dən.

We did spend months contemplating over such a “complicated” name. A Hebrew pronunciation for her first name, Cantonese for her middle name and then the unfortunate last name of Poon all thrown together. We literally wondered to one another if we were ruining her life with such a unique name. Some have loved our choice while others have subtly thrown in their hesitations (although it wasn’t actually very subtle). And of course there is the well meaning but very poor attempts at “helping” us rename Eden so the spelling is more reflective of the pronunciation.  But regardless of how her name is pronounced, what remains true is that her name will remind others of the Garden and that she is and has been an utter and complete delight to me and I pray that remains true for her lifetime.

I do not know why God has chosen this particular girl to be my daughter. I do not know why God has deemed me responsible enough to be a father. All I do know is that she is delight and I pray she will be one to you too.