“Mission is no longer about crossing the oceans, jungles and deserts, but about crossing the streets of the world’s cities. From now on, nearly all ministry will be crosscultural amid the urban pluralism caused by the greatest migration in human history from Southern hemispheres to the North, from East to West and, above all, from rural to urban.”
– Dr. Ray Bakke, “A Theology as Big as a City”
“Kingdom Rice” exists because the world is both “Asianizing” and urbanizing. Yet, the toolset to support this migration is vastly underdeveloped. I’ve been to many meetings comprised of pastors from Asian contexts who are seeking to disciple the whole person, and to evangelize those from an Asian context effectively. But very often, find that tools to help the cause often don’t make the cultural “jump” into an Asian context, or are lacking altogether. In the meantime, I’ve already rolled out multiple tools, resources, and messages to equip church and parachurch leaders across the country for some years now. The ministry of Kingdom Rice gives me a structure to collaborate even more widely and wisely to help fill in this vacuum of discipleship and evangelistic among some of the fastest growing Jesus-followers in the world.
And, the theology to support this migration is vastly underdeveloped. Open up most ANY theological text and you’ll be hard pressed to find even prominent “Asian” biblical themes of honor and shame in its indices. So with the Kingdom Rice logo, I wanted to “brand” the fact that employing an Asian-lens in study and practice will open up conduits to reach the city and the nations. That’s why I designed KR’s logo to have the Chinese gates in front of SF’s iconic landmarks. Looking through these Asian-gates opens up new horizons for how we read, study, and apply God’s Word to reach the nations. Biblical theology is much more “Asian,” group oriented then we think. But most theological texts and most commentaries are written from a Western perspective. One can read a more-EAstern perspective in the more “honest” volumes, but scholars with a cross-cultural perspective admit that theology is overly biased towards the West. We need not just more theological development from an Eastern perspective, but we need to get those “goods” into the hands of practitioners. Through Kingdom Rice, I collaborate with theologians, and work with pastors and missionaries to get the “goods” to the field.
And why “rice” as a metaphor for Asians?
God breathed his sacredness into the most common of things, into the most accessible of elements. I’m of the persuasion that communion bread represents a sacred institution that is to be remembered through the most common of elements. That is, Jesus commands us to remember the work on the cross as often as we eat something common, like bread. If Jesus were to institute communion in an Asian context, he might have used tea and rice (although perhaps not in northern China where noodles are king).
I’m not suggesting at all that rice ought to be used for communion in Asia. But I am suggesting that as much as the Sacred has made his dwelling among the common; God infused the ordinary with sacred meaning, so that relationship with God, the Sacred, can be accessed and experienced through the most ordinary. One needs not be “elitist” to have a relationship with God. Throughout the Bible, we see this illustrated through how God then Jesus dwelt among the people, how accessible Jesus was from birth to resurrection, down to the very language of the Bible. It ALL made the Good News accessible. If I were to preach Christmas sermons (since Christmas is coming as of this writing), I’d be quite compelled to write an “Urban Christmas” series. Did not Christ’s birth embody this? Even the people included in his genealogy has such the “urban” feel, so as to say, his WHOLE LIFE screams at inclusion AND transformation. He certainly takes the most common elements, like rice, and makes them useful for the Kingdom.
Transformed disciples of Jesus who relate to a a group-oriented culture represents an untapped goldmine for the Kingdom. I envision a redeemed Asian culture, one that’s growing in Christ-identity without losing our collective, honor-based culture, one who is able to live for the King, and able to turn away from the lure of the the Asian American dream, one where Asians help other ethnic groups reach their own people, both here and abroad.