When Karl Wang was about to graduate from college, Navigators Collegiate staff Ken Chi asked him a question that still guides him: “A lot of people have invested in you over the years. What are you going to do with that?”
That was “my lightbulb moment,” Karl says. He has intentionally discipled others ever since.
Karl met Ken and Cheri Chi as a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Though he grew up in church, Karl learned how to have a relationship with Jesus through Ken and other believers in the Chinese Christian Fellowship, an offshoot of the Navigators Collegiate ministry.
As Ken met with Karl for Life-to-Life® discipleship, he helped him grow spiritually and sort through issues with school and relationships, sharing a biblical perspective on situations Karl faced.
Eventually, along with that life-changing question, Ken pointed out that there were guys in the young adult ministry at their church who could benefit from Karl’s help.
Karl started a Bible study group, and from there invited men to meet with him individually once a week to talk about what God was doing in their lives. “I saw it as an opportunity to share what I’d learned,” Karl recalls.
Karl married Michelle, and they have continued to reach out to college students and young professionals. Although many attend church, they are now learning through Karl and Michelle how to have a personal relationship with God. The couple’s common background and natural rapport with other Asian Americans creates fruitful connections.
When Ken is in town, Karl invites him to speak to growing believers, illustrating the idea of spiritual generations. Karl shares how Ken helped him grow, how others had helped Ken, and so on.
After years as a graphic designer, Karl now teaches at an after-school Chinese school founded by his mother. He stays in touch with men he has discipled over the years, but his emphasis has shifted to his students, kids in elementary school and junior high.
Like his compassionate mother, Karl gets involved with kids whose families are struggling. Right now, that means bringing home three children of a single mom once a week to give her a break. “Michelle and I want to use our resources to bless people,” he says. Karl also invests in former students who come back to tutor at the school, many of whom have not received adequate guidance and support at home.
Meanwhile, Ken and Cheri Chi continue their commitment to Karl and Michelle. “They’ve played a huge role in our marriage,” Karl says. The Wangs sometimes join the Chis in Colorado for a mini retreat. The relationship has evolved into a partnership of mutual encouragement and respect.
Ken’s admiration for Karl and his ability to relate to Asian Americans in southern California is clear.
“He loves the ‘pond’ God has placed him in. He can ‘swim’ from one place to another, he knows where the danger spots are. He gets it. Young people trust him.”
And, given the Asian culture’s emphasis on food, Ken reveals another secret to Karl’s influence: “He knows where the good restaurants are!”
What We Learn From Asian Believers About the Gospel
Ken Chi, Asian American Network co-director, outlines four biblical principles embedded in Asian culture that can enrich the Western church:
- The importance of sharing life together over meals (Luke 22:8-15, John 21:9-13, Acts 2:42)
- Spreading the gospel through immediate and extended family connections (Acts 16:27-33)
- Honoring the blessing of one’s parents (Exodus 20:12)
- The fullness of the gospel through the lens of honor and shame (Philippians 3:3-9)
Of the latter, Ken explains, “If we only present the gospel from the Western perspective of innocence and guilt, we miss its full glory and beauty.” The gospel also offers freedom from the shame that can be linked to performance, and the incredible glory of being restored.
For more on Karl and Michelle and their ministry, see the video below:
Thank someone who spiritually invested in you. Think of one thing you learned from them you can share with someone today.
Free Resource: Asking Great Questions to Live Out Scripture
Ken asked Karl what he would do with the spiritual investment so many had made in his life. Questions help you reflect, make important decisions, and even apply God’s Word to your life. Explore this Bible study, “Asking Great Questions to Live Out Scripture” with a friend and see how you can live out God’s Word every day and intentionally invest in others. Click the link below to download your free resource and continue growing as a disciplemaker!