by Chloe Sun
God often takes us from familiar contexts to unfamiliar places in order to shake our perspectives about life, to shatter our old belief systems, and to transform our mind and soul. This past December and January, I made a trip to Hong Kong and God did just that.
I spent most of my teenage years in Hong Kong. It was once a familiar place. Ever since I came to the U.S., I have made several trips back home. Every trip seemed to create mixed feelings of old and new as well as familiar and foreign. I was often torn between the two worlds, struggling to find my own identity and a sense of belonging. I often asked, “Where is my real home?”
Several years ago, I started teaching at Logos, a Chinese seminary, which places me in a marginal position in light of the larger American culture and mainstream American seminaries. It was a long journey of wrestling with God and with myself to make sense of this marginality. Last year, I have finally resolved the tension and learned to accept the reality of my status through my trip to Paris last May, which shifted my perspective of center and margin, and through learning from Jesus’ example as a marginal person.
Because of the marginality that I experienced as a Chinese woman teaching in an ethnic seminary in the U.S., I often felt inferior, resentful and not favored by God. However, my recent trip to Hong Kong changed this perspective. Hong Kong is similar to New York City, with high rises and busy city life. It is also similar to Las Vegas in that both places are full of material temptations, entertainment and worldly glory. As I walked on the streets of Hong Kong with hundreds and thousands of people everyday, it hit me hard that I was different from the rest of the people. I was different because I came to the U.S. I was different because I became a Christian and was called by God to serve Him. I could have ended up just like any of the multitude of people walking on the streets of Hong Kong. Yet God took me away from this island, put me in the U.S., and invited me to be His child. He detoured the whole path of my life.
Now I feel that God’s favor is on me. I feel that I am special in God’s eyes. I did not do anything to deserve God’s favor, yet I am chosen by His grace. What makes me different from the multitude of people walking on the streets of Hong Kong is not that I earned God’s favor but because God chose me. I started to internalize God’s love and developed a renewed sense of understanding of what it means to have my identity in God.
Although my outward predicament as a marginal person living in mainstream U.S. culture has not changed, my inward attitude toward myself and toward God has. I realize now that someone who lives at the margin can still be favored by God. This realization empowers me to be more confident in who I am and in what God will accomplish through me. I am indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm139:14)
Chloe Sun, PhD., teaches Hebrew Scriptures at Logos Evangelical Seminary. She lives with her husband and son in Southern California. To contact Chloe, please send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.