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Seminary Story: Jeff Lam

My name is Jeff Lam. I’m a Chinese-American high school teacher.

I chose to begin my seminary work as a response to personal tragedy. My older brother died about six years ago from a sudden, quick bout with cancer that left my faith deeply wounded.

My faith in God floundered in the years that followed, and I struggled to pray anything but a perfunctory prayer. I was surprised by the hardness of my heart, but I enjoyed sweet moments of refuge when, oddly enough, my soul was stirred to worship after reading an astute theological argument or an insightful Bible commentary. I found refuge from my flight from God in God.

In the spring of 2011, my wife and I decided that I should begin taking part-time seminary classes at Seattle Pacific Seminary. We felt God had been gently drawing us near, and we felt the Spirit’s leading into seminary — something I had thought about doing since I was a preteen, but was not spiritually prepared to do after I graduated from college. I was particularly drawn to Seattle Pacific because of its commitment to its vision of “Abbey, Academy, Apostolate.” I wanted to be in an academically rigorous environment, but I needed a place where I could also be spiritually nurtured, and perhaps find healing.

In my time at SPS, I have certainly been pushed academically, challenged to ask deeper questions about how I can, with the church, join in the realization of God’s dream for the world. I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of working with professors who have offered me much-needed pastoral care. We’ve had coffee meetings, times of prayer, and Saturday morning chats. I’ve been to the home of almost every one of my professors.

The professors are just one of many reasons why my time here has been so formative. They are gifted scholars, but they’re also teachers and pastors. They want me to get the material, but they more importantly want the material to get me, and to transform me, and to be a means of grace.

SPU’s Asian American Ministry Program has been particularly formative for me. As a student who is a Chinese American, I am spurred to mine the particularities of the Asian American experience for its theological witness and pushed to recognize the ways in which the stories of others are my story, too. Since the work of the AAMP is woven throughout the seminary, I often find myself challenged to consider the question, "So what?" It's not enough to merely understand a theological insight; it is just as important to translate it, too. This is why the AAMP has been a blessing for me: it reminds me that the academic work I do in seminary has to mean something for the church.

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