This first post was also emailed to some friends. I’ll be blogging on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the themes based off this post/letter below.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev 21.5
In my head, I know God is always doing something new, always in the process of remaking us, renewing all of His creation. My head knows this, but my heart often is slower, as it sometimes needs to feel something, touch something and see something just to believe. But I think now that my heart too is starting to believe that God is doing something new. It’s not coming from nowhere—there is plenty of continuity and surprising overlap. But here I am with a new name, a new location and a new ministry.
A new name. My new name is Grace Hsiao Hanford. My last name has become my middle, and now I have an Anglo name to trip up strangers at customer service counters, a much more pronounceable and spell-able, now that I am accustomed to explaining “Hsiao.” It is the name of my husband, his name all his life, with his history. And though I turned down his genuine offer to be renamed “Hsiao” or even “Hsiaoford,” it is the name that we now share representing our new life together, our new family.
A new location. We presently live in Urbana, Illinois, where my husband needs to be for school. Urbana is the name of the massive mission convention—there is one this year, though it is now in St. Louis. When it was still located in town, I worked on it for almost three years. It was my first job out of college, and my brother was so proud; he was my most supportive family member. Six months prior to the convention, he was in an accident in the sister town next door, and my life was forever changed. As he died in the hospital on University Ave, I had an inexplicable but overwhelming sense that his death led to new life for me. Over the course of that first year without him, this phrase too kept entering my head and heart: “in mourning your brother’s death, I will teach you how to mourn other parts of your life.” Memories and pain long buried bubbled forth, and my long season of death commenced as I literally and physically felt like I was dying to myself. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24. This is the part of the gospel, no one wants to hear, unless you are already dying. Is it good news? It’s painful, run-for-the-hills, be-in-denial news. But some good things did come out of it as it was at that hospital that I first met my husband. I am still waiting for more good; as my head knows, there is no resurrection without the cross, without death.
A new ministry. Of all things, my new ministry is a website, asianamericanchristia
10+ years ago, I grew so much from InterVarsity Asian American Ministries training, and I still have such a long way to go. As I’ve re-entered Asian American ministry circles, I am startled by how much of me is still very broken, and how much God still has for me. While being Asian American certainly is not my whole identity, I am convinced that this is the key to unlock the gospel all the more in me. It is what God is using to reconcile, redeem and resurrect Himself and His heart in me. It is what God is using to make me more new.
We can only minister out of what we know know, we can only give what we’ve been given by God. And God’s gifts to me or any one of us are never an end unto themselves. His gifts are for the body of Christ, and I hope asianamericanchristian.
May God bless you with a rich and joyful advent season anticipating the coming of Jesus, our God with us.