Awarezen and Asian Centre for Creative Theology (ACCT) are two wings of my missional and cultural renewal ministry. The first, Awarezen, has a practical slant and focuses on spiritual formation. The second, ACCT, has an academic slant and focuses on research and education. Both in essence are centred on Christ, shaped by the gospel, and biblically anchored. Expressionally, they are innovative and non-conventional, thus susceptible to misunderstanding by mainline ecclesial institutional orthodoxy.
Three core principles characterise my two-pronged missional ministry:
Let me explain.
This principle speaks to decoupling the gospel from its Anglo-American cultural baggage, and presenting the gospel in essence as free from Anglo-Americocentrism as possible.
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Secondly, I seek to embed the gospel in the cultural matrix of Asia in a way that is deeply informed by the spiritual and wisdom foundations of the Asian sociocultural region.
1 Corinthians 9:22-23
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Thirdly, I attempt to extract truth from Asian culture and spirituality; correct what I see as distortions in Asian understandings of truth; and refute what I believe to be falsities in Asian religious paradigms. Overall, these paradigms are relativised, contextualised, and ultimately subversively fulfilled in Christ.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In giving my life to Christ, I lost everything—my Buddhist identity, worldview, spirituality, career, and points of reference for my life. In wrestling with my new vocation and life in Christ, I have arrived for now at this missional and cultural renewal ministry of Awarezen and ACCT. This has ruffled feathers and caused some discomfiture amongst both Buddhists and Christians. Some among my Christian brethren have not been pleased with my unorthodox expressions while others have been simply indifferent and less than supportive. I find this odd considering all the talk on Christian love and support the church is meant to show to new believers, and in fact to all who are lost and saved. Instead of condemnation or lack of concern, I wonder if more Christian empathy and hospitality might not be out of place. I say this not to indict anyone but to remind my brethren that love is not trivial and hypocrisy is not God-glorifying. As for me, having lost everything, I can only lean on the Lord for everything. He has just now convicted me to say these words to you, and I can only follow His leading to the praise of His glory. Here’s a favourite scriptural passage of mine:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Finally, brethren, my purpose and desire is not to cajole or lull you deeper into your cave of familiar security. Rather I am here to evocatively stir you out of your comfort zone into the luminous adventure of life in Christ beyond man-made pigeon-holes. I pray that Christ will be our supreme Treasure in whom we delight supremely so that God can be supremely glorified in us. May this be so for you and I.