When I attended college in Southern California, I experienced an unusual phenomenon. As a third-generation Japanese-American who grew up in Hawaii, my friends were from all ethnic groups, typical of the racial melting pot that is Hawaii. Although racism existed, the closely-knit island community acted as a social damper, and racial stereotypes were playfully joked about, but rarely ever an entry to sow hate and terror. I did not anticipate the social exclusion I would soon experience from other Japanese and Asian students.
In college, I encountered a wide spectrum of other students of Japanese ancestry with varying expectations. First-generation Japanese expected me to be fluent in Japanese, which I was not. Japanese-Americans who were raised in Southern California expected me to play basketball and speak and act with their same mannerisms. Other Asians identified me as Japanese and generally did not want to associate with anyone outside of their ethnic group. I was an anomaly. Everything about me was different. As one Japanese-American friend later confided in me, “I didn’t know what to think about you.”
Initially, my friends were other students from Hawaii. I was happy but unfulfilled since I wanted to grow socially and break out of my introverted Hawaiian shell. Eventually, I discovered my own group of friends, my closest being a first-generation Korean-American whom God used to lead me to Jesus Christ.
…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)
When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, God expanded my circle of friends and relationships. He broke down stereotypes and opened doors that I would never have entered. Today, I am a physician who believes in Jesus Christ. In a profession dominated by secular scientists and researchers, ironically some of my colleagues still don’t know what to think about me and I am often faced with the same dilemma that I experienced in college. I may not speak or act like other physicians but I earnestly desire to have them understand the reasons why.
I want them to know is that I am a Christian, and I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This revelation has sometimes generated bemused looks and occasionally, even hostile responses. My answer is to always succinctly and honestly state why I believe in Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of all whom I encounter.
That’s what you can think about me!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.