“…by God’s power accept your share of suffering for the gospel.” 2 Tim 1:8b
Applied “heart-knowledge” that comes from “suffering for the gospel” was the number one criteria I used when I was recruiting the Kingdom Rice board. “Heart-knowledge” means that all members have been thoroughly discipled in the emotional life; their identities have all been put to the test where they work, live, and minister. Cumulatively, they have stood in the gap for minorities, refugees, Native Americans, and have been ridiculed, persecuted, criticized, and arrested, all for being the hands and feet of Jesus. So in our board meetings, no one talks from untested “theory.” Together, they are a creative, rooted, articulate, yet operationally competent band of people with a compassionate vision for “thy Kingdom come.” I feel so honored that God’s raised up such a board. Going from left to right, they are:
Sid Mofya, Treasurer – “I was born and raised in a Zambian family, and have also lived in the UK, US, and Tanzania. My family and I (wife and 11-year-old daughter) moved from Tanzania to Silicon Valley in 2014 with the goal of learning about venture capital as a way to play a role in African entrepreneurship. I believe that there are some systemic issues that keep the African continent locked in a cycle of (relative material) poverty while enjoying (relative) spiritual wealth, compared to other places I’ve lived. Kingdom Rice attracts me because it insists on a different, perhaps unpopular, perhaps subversive, narrative that, nevertheless, rings true. I love to play. I think play is underrated: I play guitar, soccer, chess, and capoeira and think that playing is the best way to learn and the most enduring way to do serious business.”
What Steve appreciates about Sid: Sid so integrates his work with his worship. Plus, his awareness of using the same honor-shame framework that Kingdom Rice employs, but applying it to his venture capital work in non-Western areas of the world is amazing. We love playing R/B guitar together.
Kerry Curtis, “retired” from the board – I am happiest when helping, so I was excited to join the Kingdom Rice Board to support Steve and help nurture the beautiful vision of Kingdom Rice, which invites people to a space where their vulnerability is met with God’s limitless love and acceptance. This “space” resonates strongly with me, as I am currently in a sabbatical season where God is encouraging me to embrace vulnerability and trust him for new expressions of creativity through connection with him. I long for all of God’s children to experience deep connection with Father God and feel especially called to support and encourage ministry leaders as they seek to build Kingdom culture. I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my husband, Sean, and two daughters, Meryn and Lyvia. I love a good Zumba class, holding babies and/or puppies, and all things hospitality.
What Steve appreciates about Kerry: I’ve witnessed her joy, faith, tremendous resolve and tenacity in the midst of tumultuous work contexts and transitions. Her hospitality is also out of this world. I’m sad that Kerry (along with husband Sean) will be relocating out of state, and will be stepping off the board this next season.
Sean Curtis, “retired” from the board – “I have a deep passion to see healthy communities launch that are full of the aroma, vibrancy, life, and power of Jesus. As such, I’ve been a church-planter and pastor for the past 16 years, but have been involved in starting ministries for the past 26. I was the pastor of Great Exchange Covenant Church in San Francisco and moving my family to SC without a concrete idea of what God has in store. But the call to move there has been affirmed by many in our close circles. It’s been such an honor to walk with Steve over the past 6 years as members of a prayer group composed of local pastors and faith leaders, and I’ve had the joy of having a front-row seat to watch the Holy Spirit birth Kingdom Rice through Steve’s life. So it’s a huge privilege to add whatever value I can to this part of KR’s development. My other great passion is spending time with my wife (Kerry) and my 2 daughters (Meryn and Lyvia). I’m also still on a bit of a high in the aftermath of the Warriors NBA Championship.”
What Steve appreciates about Sean: This brother has taught me to be more present, invitational and Spirit-sensitive than perhaps any other brother as of late. I know few people who have pastored an Asian-American church with such surrender to the Father. With Kerry, Sean will be moving out of state and has stepped down from the board.
Sarah Akutagawa – I am a third generation Cantonese American woman and San Francisco native. Having grown up in a Chinese immigrant church, my grasp of the Christian faith is woven together with traditions and histories that inspire me toward justice and reconciliation. I am always seeking to uncover ways the Asian American experience connects to theology and its practice in the world. I am drawn to Kingdom Rice because of the ongoing work to bring new questions and frameworks to thoughtful and influential contexts like seminaries and churches. At the moment, my husband and I (along with our new baby, Kota!) live in Santa Cruz. When I am not completely consumed by motherhood, I blog (sarahakutagawa.com), thrift, and binge Law & Order episodes.
What Steve appreciates about Sarah Akutagawa – I know very few people who have so creatively excavated so much beauty from her Chinese-American culture of origin in a way that’s brought wholeness and healing to people well beyond her cultural background. She’s currently the InterVarsity regional coordinator for international students in California to see new “face-generating” communities of among the 121,000 international students. Read this article to get a taste of the kind of Kingdom beauty she’s excavated. She’s also led amazing immersions into Chinatown as part of her training of others. Read this article from Inheritance Magazine.
Nate Lee – “I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a foggy, dank place called Daly City. I am a third generation Chinese American man who is, in many ways, trying to unlearn and learn anew what it means to embody those particularities. At the heart of all this sits my family, the Chinatown church, and the Chinese American community at large, because that is where my faith journey begins. That’s why Kingdom Rice matters to me and why I hope it continues to encourage more and more folks to excavate their own stories in hopes of finding a more whole way of embodying life and faith.” (natejlee.com)
What Steve appreciates about Nate: Nate is one of the most rooted, compassionate, yet articulate and outspoken “millennials” I’ve met. The most forward-looking yet honoring sermon I’ve ever heard in an immigrant inter-generational context came from Nate at his home church in Chinatown.
Steve Hong, Director – “A native San Franciscan, I am a former engineer, missionary, pastor, and guitar teacher. I love excavating stories of beauty from both cities and my Asian culture and sharing how God is breaking into these areas to Jesus and non-Jesus followers alike. God has given me friendships with influential leaders in music, art, theology, and a diversity of churches and faith communities across different faiths. People in my ‘hood know me for my uke, recumbent bike, engaging dialogue, and my wonderful wife and rambunctious 12-year old son.”
Andy Chu – “I was born and raised in San Francisco so my love runs deep for the city. My mother and father are not following Jesus but allowed me to go to church at a young age where they felt I would learn good morals. That little decision has affected my life greatly. My passion is for people to come and know the Father and for their identity to be rooted in something more firm than this world has to offer. I love listening to people’s journeys through life because I believe those can be great lessons and so much wisdom can come from it. I connect with the intentionality behind Kingdom Rice because it seeks to be Good News to ALL cultures and seeks to engage non-Jesus followers with Good News rather than just trying to “convert” people.
What Steve appreciates about Andy: As our newest board member, we’ve not had a chance yet to have a group photo with him. Besides his operational and financial experience and savvy, I appreciate Andy’s tender heart towards the Father’s heart. Andy hails from the church once pastored by Pastor Sean Curtis (legacy board member), a church I’ve served alongside for the last seven years, and Andy has always been tender-hearted, behind-the-scenes guy that gets the job done.
Honoring past board members:
Sarah Lee (no relationship to Nate) – She invested into each of the board members, and has offered Kingdom Rice such valuable, on-the-field insight, affecting the values and tactics of Kingdom Rice. When she was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, I saw her lead students into some of the most compassionate & creative initiatives I’ve ever seen. Today, she continues to “stand in the gap” for different marginalized communities. Her current work as the sanctuary coordinator for “The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity” is just one part of this compassionate expression.
Sean and Kerry Curtis, along with their two daughters. have moved to SC to begin the next chapter in their lives. Talk about faith – they don’t what they’ll be doing. They faithfully led their former church, the Great Exchange Covenant Church (GrX, San Francisco) to places that are impossible to explain without a volume to explain Sean and Kerry’s personal transformation. They started at GrX 10 years ago, taking over a “seeker-sensitive” church. The journey has been a decade of surrendering the strategies and metrics that define “seeker-sensitive” churches and embracing so many of the values of the Kingdom that we share in common. No accident there, Sean and I along with our band of brothers have been praying together for the last six years, allowing the Spirit to sharpen and shape us all. Sean and Kerry have led their church to similarly surrender so many deep idols. I’m honored that Andy Chu, from their church, has joined the board. There’s a spiritual legacy to his joining. I’ve grown to sense God’s grace and peace in utterly profound ways because of Sean and Kerry’s model. Sean shares a few thoughts about our time together here.