Isaiah & Stephanie Kang
Pastor’s kid, in the pews from prenatal days, raised my whole life in church - yep, I have that sort of story. Formula for a boring testimony.
But in all seriousness, I count myself pretty lucky. I grew up in church literally my whole life. From a young age, I came to understand the gospel - and not just the gospel, but how it can be lived out in a manner that most people would describe as “radical” but which to me was just daily life. College students and others who weren’t related to us, constantly in our home. Basically seven days a week devoted to ministry - meetings, devotion, prayer, Bible studies, services, fellowship. A hundred people who were confusingly all “uncles” and “’aunts” to me. A church where everyone - from children to postgrads - was involved in some way, shape, or form in ministry, specifically to the UC Berkeley campus where I grew up and where our church was born.
Later on, I’d come to understand that that’s what we call “trying to live out Acts 2 in the 21st century.”
But even though I grew up in it, I was an outsider looking in - I wasn’t a follower of Jesus myself. The gospel only became personal to me when I was thirteen. My conversion wasn’t dramatic externally - it really came down to the first time in my life that I understood how completely hopeless my situation was as a wretched sinner apart from the unimaginable grace shown me on the cross. High school was the time I first fell in love with ministry, the incredible thrill of getting caught up in something so much bigger than myself that I could exhaust every ounce of my time and efforts and never exhaust the vibrant life God wanted me to experience through it.
After that - I ended up going to Berkeley myself, where God did a lot of work on me, shaving away the pride and rough edges of my character as well as giving me a heart for college ministry. I graduated with a degree in Philosophy, continuing to do co-vocational college ministry without pause ever since. Not knowing what else to do with a philosophy degree, I went to Boalt law school for a year before I felt the tug of full-time ministry on my heart, prompting me to jump off the law track, eventually coming on full-time as a church planter in training a few years later. Along the way I got married to my freshman year crush and had two little boys.
It’s been quite a ride. And what I can tell you today is that the gospel is the only thing in life I ever found inspiring enough to give my all to - actually the only thing in my life I ever found inspiring enough to give even more than my bare minimum effort.
Enneagram: Type 5, happy to be alone with my thoughts and not doing much of anything. In fact, my ideal day if I didn’t have ministry to do would be to be in a nice reading room or cafe, sipping tea while reading a good book, with my window framing autumn leaves against a melancholy gray sky — all day, getting up only to eat. Not naturally excitable, not naturally passionate, not naturally with much get-up-and-go — but in obeying the call of my Lord I’ve found reason to be all those things, God calling into existence in me what was not as I strive along with so many others to see an Acts 2 Church planted in every college town. That’s my story in a (admittedly large) nutshell.
Other likes: Big fan of Star Wars, all things Marvel, and Lord of the Rings. Always down for boba, to a worrisome degree. Soccer>Football>Basketball>every other sport. Talk to me if you’re looking for good food. Warriors fan till my grave or until I get a very clear sign from God that I should be otherwise. Bit rusty but I love longboarding - I was a Loaded guy until my dervish got stolen and I bought a Bustin; if you know of any good hills around hit me up :)
I grew up in Queens, NY surrounded by my parents, older brother, aunts, uncles and cousins, and when I was younger, all 13 of us lived in the same house! I am a huge extrovert, so I loved spending time with them and just loved making friends and being around people all the time.
In high school, some friends invited me to their youth group where I met more friends, learned about the gospel, and got baptized. But by the time high school ended, I’d experienced relational drama with my friends at school and at church, felt stifled by my family and just felt bored (even though I lived in the city that never sleeps) so I wanted to get out of New York and go somewhere else. I went across the country to UC Berkeley to get a fresh start, new friends and fresh fun. Before we went to college, one of the youth group teachers encouraged us to go to church the first Sunday we got there. I took this advice to heart, and came into college looking for a church.
I found our church through some people I met at welcome week, and fell in love with it. The activities were fun, the Bible was more relevant than ever as everyone was trying to live it out, and people seemed close, with decades of history with each other. So I stuck around, learned more about God’s Word, my own sinfulness and the amazing news of forgiveness because of the cross through Bible studies, retreats, but most of all, through the lives of the older students and mentors who lived it out all around me. So when I graduated, I became a staff in college ministry as a co-vocational mentor because this was where I experienced my life’s trajectory being changed forever and I wanted to share the gospel and this life with other college students.
Myers-Briggs: ESFJ (second most common)
Enneagram: 8, wing 7. I love to fight (with words - it’s not personal, I just grew up in the East Coast haha), and I love to have fun; sometimes I have fun by fighting :)
Other things I love: volleyball, spicy food, roller coasters, public transportation, adventures, sushi!
This might seem contradictory but I’m a big scaredy-cat, and I can’t do unguarded heights (like cliffs). But if you really want to go, I’m down, but I might squeeze the life out of your arm on the way.