Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World


Written by: on September 9, 2021

I enjoyed reading this book. I can’t believe I read through it from beginning to end in one sitting. As I read through this book, I asked myself, ‘Why am I enjoying this book so much?’ One factor might be the author’s clear and organized writing style which allowed me to be more engaged with the book, but I think the most significant factor was the content and context of the book. I agree with the author that America is becoming more polarized and divided even though we live in an age of metamodernism now. Even though people are protesting and moving the world towards embracement and acceptance, it seems that discrimination, systematic injustice, and polarization will become more intense.


As I reflected upon my political views and personal principles, I would categorize myself as an unengaged, silent, and voiceless Korean American in the past. I moved to the states back in 1988, and I was ten years old. My first five years in America were spent in Atlanta, Georgia, where I enjoyed hanging out with my African American friends every day. All the kids in that apartment all hung out every day as close friends because racial colors don’t exist when you are young. Then, my family moved into California right after the 1992 LA riot. Since then, I have spent the past 28 years living in different cities all over CA. Asians growing up in CA is a bit different from Asians from other places in the US because there are many Asians and Asian communities, and less discrimination and hatred is experienced in CA (Literally, you can get by every day in K-town without speaking a word of English). And living somewhat comfortably and protected in my Asian community, I grew up unengaged, silent, and voiceless to many racial issues and social injustices. Rather than choosing to have a voice, get to know the issue, and speak out my thoughts, I preferred to be that silent Asian kid who chose not to get involved because it wasn’t my business, and I didn’t care.


The book’s contents took me back to a personal awakening memory I had at a Cru leadership conference a couple of years back. All leaders representing all different kinds of the ministry of Cru were gathered there. I was one of the few Asians representing the small Korean American ethnic ministry gathered among many whites, few blacks, few yellows, and few Indigenous Indians. The conference ethnic demographics were very similar to demographics of the US population – White 65%, Hispanic 17%, Black 12%, Asian 5%, American Indian/Alaska Native 1%. The conference focused on aligning with all the leaders in making the significant shift to a more dynamic and diversified leadership from previous top leadership administration made up of few male Caucasians to now intentionally including couple hundreds of men and women of all colors (young and old) to be involved in top leadership. The conference was excellent, and I learned a lot. Out of the many fantastic keynote speakers, I learned so much from this one African American keynote speaker who spoke on ethnic diversity in America and emphasis on the divide between white and black and how to cross over cultural barriers as a Christian. And I think that was the very first time I started to become more engaged in understanding the historical context of America. The keynote speaker sort of woke me up from being unengaged, silent, and voiceless Korean American.


So much has happened within just the past two years. The polarization in America is visible and spoken out all over the US as every ethnicity struggles through the political divide, black lives matter, stop Asian hate, gender identity, and many more current social issues. The author’s vivid descriptions of the things he experienced in life in the 60s and 70s gave me another opportunity to understand the progress in the system of thoughts in America. Steele wrote, “When I was a boy growing up in segregation, racism was not seen as evil by most whites. It was simply a recognition of natural law: some races were inferior to others and that people needed and wanted to be with their kinds.” Just like Steele, when one becomes engaged, critically thinks about the issues and causes, and makes a voice in the wilderness, the emerging young will wake up from their silent ignorance.

About the Author


Jonathan Lee

President of Streamside Ministry Lead Pastor of EM @ San Jose Korean Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA

7 responses to “Awakening”

  1. Elmarie Parker says:

    Hi Jonathan. Thank you for your reflections. I really appreciate your self-evaluation of moving from being an “…unengaged, silent, and voiceless Korean American in the past” to waking up. Reading the experiences that have influenced your journey reminds of how needful being in community is to this deep work of understanding and learning to love each other across our many differences. I’m curious about how you are experiencing your community and work and call differently as you are waking up?

    My journey of waking up started as a young teen grappling with my Afrikaaner heritage through my mother’s side of the family and my USA southern culture and Ohio Appalachian culture heritage through my dad’s side of the family. It’s been a long journey of learning, listening, and being taught by those different from myself since then.

    Over the past two years my sending organization has been very deliberate in cultivating learning experiences and conversation around the complexity of issues that make up diversity, equity, and inclusion work in a USA context today. I’ve been stretched and humbled as I hear more deeply some of the deep ways my colleagues and friends who are Black, Asian American, or Indigenous American have been repeatedly wounded and traumatized by the realities of systemic racism in the USA. And, living in the Middle East for the past eight years, I’ve been stretched and humbled as I hear more deeply how my US government’s foreign policy decisions (a government for which I am responsible for holding accountable as a Christ follower privileged to be born with US citizenship) has caused a tremendous amount of trauma and pain in entire countries for multiple decades.

    Part of my awakening has lead me to become more active as an advocate and more engaged with elected office holders at all levels of government to work for policies that reflect more of God’s holistic just-peace realm. I have so much more to learn.

    • mm Jonathan Lee says:

      Hi Elmarie,

      It’s only been couple years since I woke up and decided to become more engaged in my community, polictics, and current social issues. Most important change that are taking place these days are changes in the contents of my teachings and preaching. I try to incorporate action and practical applications so that the hearers can have an opportunity to think things differently and move to gospel-centered actions. I desire the NextGen to grow up having more ownership in who they are as Christians living in America.

  2. mm Andy Hale says:


    I am fascinated to learn your perspective on this conversation, as I imagine you have experienced a different form of racism, though no less racism.

    Additionally, with the rise of discrimination against AAPI, more Americans are becoming aware that racism isn’t just a white towards black thing.

  3. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Jonathan, thank you for sharing your honesty about growing up in the comfortability of the “bubble of what is known”. Your image of moving through K-town without having to speak a word of English is really a foreign concept for most Americans. But like you in your comfort that led to unengaged activity, so many in this country are comfortable with their unengagement. If you were to critically apply to your Asian context something from Steele’s book what would it be?

    • mm Jonathan Lee says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Steele said, “When you win the culture, you win the extraordinary power to say what things mean-you get to declare the angle of vision…” (pg.164) I think that insight is very applicable in our culture. Asian culture is based on more of ‘WE’ mentality and Asian Americans usually grow up experiencing many different cultures. I think that kind of cultural heritage and experiences should be cultivated to be used to become the bridge work for others.

  4. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Great post, Jonathan, thanks for writing your reflections. I’m sure your leadership and faith inspire many youth, minorities and otherwise to follow their faith more confidently and have less fear in speaking up to voice their opinions.

  5. mm Eric Basye says:

    Thank you for sharing. I loved reading your reflection on racism. I found it especially interesting your take on being Asian in California. How fascinating that it is possible to make it by without English! I look forward to how the Lord will use your voice and influence to provide a gospel framework around the conversation of race.

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