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Happy New Year <<First Name>>!

December 31, 2021 

“I love what Kingdom Rice is doing for Asian American Christians. Steve, you are helping people see and experience a holistic Gospel that reaches into the hidden and shameful corners of a person's soul.” -  Jon Liu, Executive Director of Asian-American Christian Fellowship (AACF) 

With great joy, two of the cohorts I led this past year included staff from AACF, the first U.S.-born Asian-American college ministry. In fact, AACF was instrumental in my college life over 30 years ago when it was a fairly new ministry. Since then, I’ve befriended and/or worked with most of their senior staff so leading a cohort with them as well as “next generation” staff felt like a homecoming. Also joyful was tying their experience and theological training directly to their field ministry. One 30-yr staff veteran said “(the cohort) caused us to step back from the immediacy of how we're doing ministry in the moment and ask ourselves the larger questions such as: Why are we doing what we're doing? Is this the best way to do it? Are there better alternatives?”  Joy is seeing faithful servants within AACF asking the kinds of questions that leads towards greater experiences of the Gospel for themselves and their ministry on 15 college universities. 

We’ve led two cohorts with AACF staff. While the first was comprised of their staff, the second cohort consisted of staff and volunteers from AACF, InterVarsity, Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society (JEMS), Mission One, and Kingdom Rice. Many in the second cohort were taking it for the second or third time, which is a huge part of how we train others to propagate our mission. On deck for 2022 includes more cohort rounds for AACF and also we are rolling out cohorts in Japan through JEMS. I thank God that our relationship with organizations like these are mutually beneficial, helping bring our respective visions to reality.  

Cohorts represent just one way we accomplish our mission.  I’ve rewritten our Programs and Events page to share some of our other ways, from “no commitment, no cost” options (e.g. reading, webinars) all the way to immersive learning experiences (e.g. in-person immersions, cohorts). Check it out to see how you can grow the Gospel in your own life and/or in the life of your community. (As an aside, our work is NOT just targeted for those who relate to Asian culture. That should be clear from other newsletters.)

The need has long exceeded our capacity; Kingdom Rice has long needed more focus and better strategies to steward our work. Especially with the pandemic, we needed to up the ante, so right before my sabbatical, we hired Craig Wong as a consultant. Craig is also a coach, a respected pastor, non-profit leader, plus he’s already familiar with Kingdom Rice and some of our board members. Over the summer, he began interviewing our volunteers and with my return from sabbatical this past fall, we’ve really rolled up our sleeves with this whole retooling process. Most of our current board is retiring by early 2022 so the timing could not have been better. 

I feel humbled, sobered, and surrendered in this retooling process. Besides the interviews, the process involves a good deal of soul searching and reflection, and includes documenting broken aspects of my leadership, which is a humbling process! But I would not want it any other way; this vulnerable process will better me and Kingdom Rice. “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 

I made space for this retooling work by deferring most of our programs until 2022. What a far cry from the business of earlier in 2021. E.g. I even preached in two churches one Sunday, hundreds of miles apart (via two Zoom screens as shown above).  But after my sabbatical, I’ve been mainly focused on the retooling process, reconnecting with our clients and planning 2022, and rewriting major portions of our website to bring clearer vision, mission, and threading this increased clarity through our programs.

The sabbatical followed by this retooling process is requiring more faith than if we had just kept on with our usual programs. Starting with the sabbatical, it was downright difficult to cease, then to make space to look inside my own soul apart from all the doing to spot unhealthy drivers. But isn’t this the story of Jesus’ incarnation we celebrated this Christmas? He came to “be” before he came to “do.” I pray you and I can lean into this narrative this season.

Some of you might be aware that investing in non-profits like Kingdom Rice by end of 2021 has special IRS incentives. Regardless, I'd be honored if you'd consider a special end-of-year gift and/or set up monthly pledges. You may do so by clicking here. I've said it many times; I believe doing so will open up mutual blessing well beyond the financial realm. 

Contact me here for any salutations or inquiries. 

Happy New Year!
- Steve Hong

Copyright © 2021 Steve Hong/Kingdom Rice, All rights reserved.

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