Commissioned for Work: Joseph Chang

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.


I grew up being told by people (who were miserable at their jobs), "just do something you love." I think a lot of us interpret this kind of advice to mean that our career, occupation, job (whatever we want to call it) has the ability to satisfy us and provide us with an identity. We also want our work to positively impact the world (even if we don't know what that means, exactly). Further, we're taught that there should always be a separation between church and state, or in this case, professional life. Somehow no-one tells you to bring faith into dialogue with work: the silence says a lot. In sum, we are always seeking for work to "work for us." 

Through the Theology of Work course, I've learned that work, even the insignificant and mundane aspects of our work, is significant to God. In our work, we are being called to co-create with Christ in establishing His kingdom right where we are, for example in our broken work environments. Even if we don't have our ideal, fulfilling "career job" in hand (I struggle with this a lot, I mean, I studied engineering and I feel like my mind is wasted in doing mostly manual labor in my lab), God still calls me to be an ambassador of Christ in all situations and, oddly, through heeding this call I end up participating in that world impacting work we all desire.   

My struggle with not having my "career job" has shown me that God is not most pleased with me when I finally land that job which gives me an identity. Instead, in the Gospel, He has given me a higher identity as His son and in this identify I find my way in following Jesus. 

For me, giving my work to the rule of Jesus means that I need to image Jesus in seeing others, including my co-workers, as fellow humans, as creations-in-the-image-of-God. In the current climate of my lab, that means taking a priestly role in interceding and mediating between people with years of bitterness toxifying their interactions and restoring those who've been persistently devalued.  

I've been told to always cultivate professional relationships into a network, and while I don't mean to downplay networking, in this calling as a son of God I've received a challenge to go beyond seeking my own good out of relationships. I am learning to not just help co-workers because, eventually, their work will become my work, but to genuinely support them as a friend so they can find rest, feel cared for as a human being, and have a voice.

People ask, "Do you find joy in what you do at work?" For a long while my response was no. But over time, as I began to understand my partnership with God in His redemptive story, I've come to see what I do at work differently. In accepting God's call for my current work, I can look upon the relationships I've developed at work over the past five years and find reason to rejoice because some of my co-workers are interested in a Gospel that puts our faith into actions. And I can rejoice because God has shown me the value and goodness of being a trustworthy friend, wherever my work takes me.

I don't have it all together, but just as baptism is an outward sign and seal of God undertaking an internal change, denoting a beginning of the Christian life, being commissioned to work is a beginning of further accountability and transformation in walking with Jesus where once I did not know he had a role to play and life to give.


Portraits of Grace: Hee-Jung (2 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

The Bible says we need to fight sin to its death. “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4, ESV) How am I going to be able to fight to the point of shedding blood and break the sinful pattern of anger? Sometimes, I even can’t bite my tongue for two seconds. When I need to make an active choice to not react in anger, it brings forth a bitter agony touching the core of who I am. It hurts. It hurts my ego. I’d rather suffer the consequences. My ego screams, “If I lose, let me lose!” My willful sinfulness is strong and deep, but the Word is clear: If I don’t resist sin to the point of shedding my blood, it will get me. Just as a prominent 17th Century theologian John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

I had to admit and confess my desire to be in control of everything and my angry reaction when reality resisted this desire. I confessed this willful, habitual sin against God and against Ben and Eugene (my closest people). Since then, God has continuously brought my sin into light and granted me a new desire to fight and hope for change. I want this sinful anger in me dead. I want gentleness to grow in the place where anger died. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis describes God’s unceasing pursuit of holiness in us as his “intolerable compliment.” In his “intolerable compliment,” God pursues us until he accomplishes the good he’s willed for us. God’s unbounding, ceaseless love embraces me and constantly transforms me. How many triumphs have I achieved? Not as many as I would want. The struggle is ongoing. The challenge is present. The battle is still on. But God will love me and be with me until the end (John 13:1; Matt 28:20). I hold on to this truth. And the hope I have in this truth keeps me fighting.


Portraits of Grace: Hee-Jung (1 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

“If I lose, if I lose, let me lose.” Gillian Welch

When I am angry, it feels like nothing really matters but my feeling at the very moment. It feels like my whole being is swept up into one big black hole of anger. Even if I have to lose, I will lose. I want to lose. I am willing to lose. If I lose, let me lose. That’s how I feel when I get angry and how I lose my battles with anger. One of the terrible effects of this sin is I become numb to the people and circumstances around me, insensitive, inconsiderate, incapable of thinking of the feelings of others. I give in to the rushing eruption of this monstrous emotion. In the midst of that moment, losing control of myself doesn’t matter because that’s what I want: I want to sin. When the moment of anger passes, I realize how sinfully I reacted to the situation. I regret. I make my apologies and ask for forgiveness. But somehow it’s too late. The explosion has occurred, the damage is done.

I didn’t realize my anger problem until I married (I have been married for 5 years). During the first year of our marriage, we had to go through a great deal of personality clash. It was tough. Many times, in frustration, I reacted in anger to the challenges we faced, which was having a great and negative impact on our relationship. My anger kept me from having constructive communication with Ben. Thus, our relationship was not growing in depth. I remember Ben called me out one day and told me that I have to seriously reflect on this issue and make changes. At first, I quietly dismissed his advice in my heart because I believed my anger was legitimate. My reasons were not nonsense. My anger was reasonable and even righteous. I was utterly blinded by sin.

Ben’s reminders helped me think about the underlying problems and see the pattern of my sinfulness: how much I enjoy being in control, sought this control through anger, and how much I didn’t want to give it up to God, because having control felt really good. I repeatedly gave in to this false sense of euphoria and power, which was enslaving me. Seeing my sin, even dimly, was only the start, of course, the pattern of sin continued and I struggled and felt defeated by it. One day, my three-year-old son, Eugene, asked me when I was raising my voice in an angry tone, “Are you a good mommy or a bad mommy?” I couldn’t answer. I needed to fight this sin and fight hard. But how?


Portraits of Grace: Caleb

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

What do you want to be when you grown up?
A car wash man

What do you like to do?
Play with my toy cars

Do you like your sister? 
Yes

Why? 
Because she shares

Why do you go to church?
To worship Jesus

What is your favorite thing about church?
CEM!

Why?
Because I learn more about Jesus

Who is Jesus?
God's son

Do you love Jesus? 
Yes

Why? 
Because he died for our sins


Portraits of Grace: Iris

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Over the last few months, I have learned it isn't true that I'm not good at making decisions. Rather, I always want things on my timeline. When clarity doesn't come when I want it, I become anxious and frustrated. I need to keep learning to simply walk with the Father's lead instead of running ahead of Him. The Father is continually working in my heart and preparing me for what He has next. I am excited to see Him continue to bring clarity for my year after furlough, as I wait, I am confident in telling others that I am not sure what is next. Knowing or not, His name will be glorified.


Portraits of Grace: Jeying

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

I was once told that my life was like the movie Failure to Launch; that like the main character, I had failed to become a “real” adult. This became a source of shame for me as my whole life had been centered around the need to be both intelligent and successful, but here I was- a failure to launch.  The gap between what I had dreamed for my life and what reality actually was is something that I struggled with for years and truthfully, many times, I still see myself through that lens of failure and shame. I'm nowhere near where I thought I should or would be in terms of career, relationships, or life stage, but I'm learning more and more to trust in a good and loving Father.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 16:9: "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." I'm struggling with, but seeing that my plans and desires are but a small part of God's plan, and that although I make mistakes, God doesn't. He knows exactly where I am and where I should be in every moment of life, and His plans and timing are way more reliable than mine ever will be. My challenge then, is to strive toward faith- not because faith is achievable by my own strength, but because His heart for me won't waver; to daily become more and more like the "glory-self" that He has made me to be.


Portraits of Grace: Ester

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

When I was asked to start 'Portraits of Grace' I thought it wasn't going to amount to much. I was wrong.


Portraits of Grace: Isaiah (Age 5)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Photo by Minnow Park

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
“Supermarket cashier”

What do you think about your sisters?
“Samantha is funny. Lydia likes to play.”

What is your favorite thing about church?
“CEM” [ie: Sunday School]

When you think of Jesus what do you think of?
“He's in heaven.”

Why do you come to church?
“Since we believe in God.”


Portraits of Grace: Judy

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

I was extremely "emo" person growing up. I thought about how messed up the world was. I was fixated that my parents loved my brother more. I thought "I was never "good" enough". "They will never be happy with me". "I am a huge disappointment and failure". The more I thought about these things the more I thought that it would be so much better if I was never born, to just snuff out my existence.

That's when it started. I got fixated on death itself. How life is so fragile, and everything seems hopeless and meaningless. I started dabbling in the occult- witchcraft, astrology and divination. My obsession, to want to control what seems like the only thing that I can control, myself. I wanted to control my own destiny. And these tools served this purpose. In my darkest moments, suicide was always in the forefront of my mind. "No one will miss you!", "No matter how loud I scream, no one will hear me anyway, why bother."

On the outside, I was calm, collected, but in the inside, anger, loneliness, evil, self destructiveness raged on. Even shortly after becoming a Christian. I continued dabbling in the  occult, thoughts of suicide continued to linger in my thoughts, I didn't think it was wrong. In private moments when my mind wanders. It always wandered back to the thoughts of death and how I lacked control in my life. In fact, I thought that Jesus justified my thoughts, by saying how I want to be with him sooner or quicker.

One night, I was in studio, staying up late completing a project, that these thoughts finally overwhelmed me. I have had enough, I wanted to finally gain control of my own life and just end it. As I was crying and getting ready to slit my wrist, I heard very clearly, "And one who's cried like you, Wanting so much just to lay down and die, I offer this, we must remember this, We are not home yet, we are not home yet, Keep on looking ahead, let your heart not forget, We are not home yet," I thought it was my imagination, the cowardice inside of me trying to prevent me from going through with what I had planned.

The CD, a big brother from church had lent me, was a compilation of songs, and Stephen Curtis Chapman's song "Not Home Yet" was one of the songs in it. In my disbelief, I went to the CD player and replayed the song from the beginning. All the other lyrics to the many different songs in the CD was a big blur, white noise in the background, drowned out in my crying, but I was able to hear those lyrics, when I was finally going to kill myself. That was the work of the Holy Spirit!  When I thought that no one heard me. Or who I am didn't matter, God heard me. He heard my cries for help. He was the one listening to me and reassured me that Christ died for me, so that I can hear Him. I am a daughter of God.

I didn't realized it at the time. But I haven't thought about suicide since that night. Christ's love and grace, freed me from my infatuation with death and the occult, in fact, He has freed me from sin and death. I still have a tendency to want to control things and still am a sinner in need of grace, but I hold onto the future grace, in Romans 8."For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved."


Portraits of Grace: Minnow (2 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Photo by Albert Cheung

This year I had a identity crisis about my work and career. I absolutely love what I do but as I looked five, ten years ahead as a husband and hopefully a father, I wondered if a freelancer’s life was sustainable. I updated my resume (the last time I did that was 2009) so that I could start applying to find a more stable and predictable job.

I found a few jobs that I’d love to do if I could, but also found that my heart was becoming that worker in the parable who buried his one talent in fear of losing it.  I was willing to stop and turn away from what God had given to me the past seven years, just so that I could feign control over my future. I was slowly tying my identity and safety in my work, and not in the Gospel and Jesus who was so faithful to me the past seven years.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

I don’t know how much longer I will be a photographer, but I don’t think that’s something for me to try to determine. I’m resolved to continue to be a good steward of what He has entrusted to me, and grace will lead me home.