Our Vision: Healing and joining together our unique stories into God’s Story
“Joining together” represents the goal of social justice, the product of racism’s dismantling, and relational solidarity. In other words, social justice serves relationships. This restorative justice is sometimes expressed as “peace-making, community justice.” Likewise, the end of racism opens the gates to unity without conformity. And solidarity is ultimately expressed in mutual two-way relationships. From here in San Francisco, we’ve expressed this joining together across unlikely communities in both this life, and the next life.
“Our unique stories“ – Excavation of our own stories facilitates “joining together” for it allows us to name how we’ve been taught to see ourselves, others, and our higher power, or lack thereof in one’s story. We may not presently subscribe to the story we grew up with, but still, we’ve been shaped by it. Once we name the aspects in our story that threaten “joining together” then we can do something with it. For example, we can begin adjusting, perhaps even replacing the story we subscribe to.
Kingdom Rice roots itself in the story of SF’s Chinatown. Within this complex neighborhood, its story speaks of shame, racism, and displacement, but also of solidarity, honor and celebration. Rooting ourselves in the Chinatown story gives us the perspective to relate and empathize with similar racism, shame, displacement found in other ethnic neighborhoods of San Francisco. Some hoods have been permanently displaced, like Manilatown (Chinatown’s former adjacent neighbor) or West Harlem on Fillmore St. But we can also stand with our ethnic neighbors in celebration too. Our logo is fronted by the Chinatown gates which acts as a portal to all the beautiful diversity that is San Francisco.
Kingdom Rice sets Chinatown’s story “in God’s story.” We believe God’s Story provides a complete guide fro the journey of shame unto honor (predating Brené Brown by thousands of years). The crux of this Story revolves around the cross of Jesus. The cross and resurrection broke the power of shame and exposed all the false honor systems of the world. Especially in our social media-saturated world, false systems of honor abound. These are the seeds of racism. Rooting ourselves in the Chinatown story roots Kingdom Rice into the concrete; finding this story in God’s Story provides the framework for our process and our tactics.
In summary, Kingdom Rice subscribes to God’s Story because of its storyline that brings honor to the most shamed. I point this out because in the West, some who identify as “Christians” have abused power and propagated racism. In the West, we resist seeing God’s Story from the perspective of 1st century culture, majority culture, oppressed culture – most of not all of the biblical authors wrote from this colonized perspective.
Prominent in God’s Story is that this process must involve healing and growing in vulnerability. This involves excavating our own stories that reveal the lenses from which we learned how to love, how we deal with suffering, and how we learned to see others, especially those not familiar to us. Healing involves excavating, examining, and sometimes replacing parts our story to be better neighbors in our quickly globalizing world. In other words, we need to grieve and heal from those parts of our story that hinder us from more fully loving our neighbors. Only then can we vulnerably enter into other people’s stories in solidarity. Here are a few examples: This post was cross-posted in my friend’s atheist blog. And here’s one more…an interview with an atheist visiting art scholar. Notice in these interviews, I don’t impose God’s Story. None of us hides our story either, though different.
“We must be able to value and love people as they are, whether or not we agree with their views or choices. Above all we are interested in their good and the goods that will contribute to their flourishing. If we only gather and discuss our views with those who agree with us on primary matters, then tolerance is never an issue. Tolerance is only in play in the midst of discord.” –Dallas Willard
This means social justice and the end of racism THROUGH the hard work of healing and growing in vulnerability. We accomplish this through…
Our Mission: We equip leaders in faith-based organizations to understand the intersection of their collective stories with God’s story so they can more fully love their neighbors.
“…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.”
Plus, no one is afraid to challenge me! Going from left to right, they are:
Sid Mofya, Vice President- “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. Check out is music site where he integrates the ancient with the new in English, Bemba and Swahili. Also check out a wonderful sermon on “Work and Worship” that he delivered recently at his church.
Andy Chu, Treasurer – “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: 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.
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.
Sarah Papé – “I grew up in Boise, ID with a deep love of outdoor adventures, but never imagined living in San Francisco. I moved to California for college, and a defining moment in my journey came during a spring break trip to inner-city Chicago. The trip challenged much of what I believed about the Bible, particularly around issues of power, privilege, race and class. I began investigating how my theology is shaped by my experiences as a white woman. With a graciousness that is rare, Kingdom Rice is doing the beautiful and necessary work of elevating narratives that are often buried by the dominant western culture. When I’m not working with middle schoolers or dreaming up science labs, I love hiking with friends, baking cookies, and searching for the perfect cup of chai.”
What Steve appreciates about Sarah Papé – Our newest board member, I appreciate how she’s stewarded her religious studies and urban education training from Stanford and USF, respectively. Sarah recognized the privilege she came from, pursued immersion experiences to lay that aside and today, serves as President for her teachers association where she can advocate for the many SE Asians who largely make up her school district. SE Asians are often looked over among East Asians (like Chinese) and the whole Crazy Rich Asians culture. I also appreciate her as a pastor of my church.
Steve Hong, Director – “A native San Franciscan, I am a former engineer, missionary, pastor, and guitar teacher. I love excavating stories of beauty from San Francisco and my cultural background as a way to share how God is breaking into these spaces. 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 engaging people with my uke, recumbent bike, and world view conversations over coffee.”
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.” See 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.