Vicki Tsui – Pastor of a Pan-Asian Church

Chicago, IL

My hope is that Taiwanese America will continue its history of community and introspection; that young and old, Taiwanese Americans will be reflective about who they are and what matters to them.

tsui.vicki1Who are you?

I am a second-generation Taiwanese American woman, born in Cleveland and resident of the most awesome city in the United States, Chicago. I love words, people, ideas, food, and all things that point to the magnificence of life. I’m 33 years old and excited for what’s in store for the future, knowing that I’ve only scratched the surface. I grew up with a strong sense of my Taiwanese identity, reinforced by the local community I grew up in, and with which my faith experience was intertwined. In college, I studied English and Speech Communication (that is, reading and writing), then briefly pursued book publishing as a career. I made a career switch when I left for seminary and now work in ministry. My job allows me to delve into the big hopes I have in life, not just for myself, but for others, for communities, and for the world.

What do you do?

I work part-time as a pastor at Parkwood Community Church, a pan-Asian, second-generation evangelical church in the suburbs of Chicago. My focus there is to support the Mercy & Justice ministries serving people outside the church, but I also help with other pastorly stuff, like guiding the leadership of the church. My passion is to walk with people in the muck of life and in their relationships with God, so I help with other ministry opportunities as they come along: mentoring youth; speaking and preaching; partnering with initiatives from my denomination (the Evangelical Covenant Church). I hope I can help Asian Americans understand the significance of their culture while also leading them to greater transformation. I also proofread books on a freelance basis (I used to work in book publishing) and work part time in retail (which keeps me humble). I’m also a wife to my wonderfully supportive husband, Will.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My first-generation parents taught me from an early age to be proud of my Taiwanese roots. They – and our community – modeled pride in their culture and a deep concern for their homeland, delighting in our uniqueness, and unafraid to stand up for what we believe is right. They spoke to me in their familiar mother tongue, and even when I was embarrassed by those who wondered aloud why I didn’t speak Mandarin, Mom and Dad reassured me there was nothing to be ashamed of, and that I ought to be proud of who I am and the language I spoke. Though Asian Americans are known to be a shame-based, face-oriented culture, I believe that the Taiwanese culture nurtures outspoken and caring people. I’m proud to be part of a group that is passionate about who they are and what they consider important, about family and community and pride.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

My hope is that Taiwanese America will continue its history of community and introspection; that young and old, Taiwanese Americans will be reflective about who they are and what matters to them. But my ambition is that they will see all the vast, rich blessings they have been given – whether it be in the form of skills, resource abundance, or passion – and have a burden to “pay it forward” to the rest of the world. Just as Taiwan leads the world in manufacturing, so I hope that Taiwanese Americans would step up and be known for their contribution to whatever community or society they find themselves in. I hope Taiwanese America can grow in seeing itself as a varied, diverse group of people with outstanding talent and wide reach – and then use what they have been given to touch the world.

tsui.vicki2

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