Ray & Sieun Choi
Jesus found me, a rich young ruler, who grew up in a wealthy peninsula city on a hill above the smog line of Los Angeles (aka Palos Verdes, home of a Trump golf course and wild peacocks). I thought I had kept all of God’s commands growing up because I was always THAT kid other parents told their kids to be like. My friends called me “Golden Boy,” and my dad frequently asked me “Are you a human being?” (as a compliment, not out of frustration) -- in other words, I was Mr. Goodie-Two-Shoes, 24/7, 365, at home, at school, and at church. But mercifully, during my freshman year at Cal Berkeley, God opened my eyes to see beneath my image I'm a sinner to the core and to understand my absolute need for the cross. I finally understood too that salvation happens when I turn from following myself and start following Jesus as the rightful Lord of my life, and that's what I did in April of 2000. I still marvel at my salvation, as well as the story God has allowed me to partake in all these years as we've endeavored to bring the gospel embodied in our lives and community to Berkeley, Irvine, and Chicago, and as a network of collegiate churches to over 70 campuses. This has been the greatest adventure and privilege of my life.
Currently my energetic wife, Sieun, and I are full-time college ministers at UC Berkeley. In our former lives, I was an attorney and my wife was a finance modeler at Moody’s Wall Street Analytics. People say our children, Ethan and Kaylee, are spitting images of their parents. I concur.
Hobbies: listening to Harry Potter with our kids, basketball with the bros, occasional fishing & frequently having college students over at our place in Alameda (Sieun cooks Korean food like a Korean grandma — and that's a high compliment!)
I had my first encounter with Jesus at a campus church in Salt Lake City, UT when my dad was working towards his PhD. Although I have fond memories from that time, my upbringing was a mix of the Buddhist faith of my grandparents and my father’s faith in academics. But God placed people throughout my life who taught me about Him - from that Christian teacher in 3rd grade to the friend in high school who kept inviting me out to Bible studies. In college, I finally had a life changing encounter with Jesus that changed my life forever. I fell in love with the Acts 2 church community that embodies Jesus, and was amazed at its power to draw in people from all backgrounds, especially during the precious years of college.
I’m an enneagram type 6, which means I’m a fighter and value being in control, but God has taught me the joy of surrender and being open to adventures, as my family got to move from Berkeley to Los Angeles to Irvine, and then to Chicago to plant new church communities and reach college students.
We see our family as being in ministry together! We love having people in our home - Ray’s always teaching, whether it’s an old game he grew up playing in his youth group, or how to use some tools around the house; my kids, Ethan and Kaylee, are always on the lookout for the auntie or uncle who will play games or chat it up with them; and I love being in the kitchen cooking up something I learned from my grandmother.
What we love is that we’re not doing ministry alone. But our college friends who grew in faith together with us, with whom we shared pivotal spiritual commitments, we’re all continuing to live lives of ministry today as we get older, spreading across the nation, planting churches on college campuses.