Aaron was born as the oldest son of Chinese immigrants who converted to Mormonism prior to his birth. Growing up, he had very negative experiences with religion. He remembers dreading Sunday mornings because his family would often fight vehemently all the way to church, only to walk into the doors smiling and pretending like everything was okay. Seeing such pretention and hypocrisy caused Aaron to distrust religious people and assume that religion was for fake, weak-minded people who needed an imaginary friend in order to feel good about themselves and make friends. Therefore, Aaron wanted nothing to do with religion and walked away from faith during his teenage years.
When Aaron was a teenager, he lived in a predominantly white area and attended a very racially homogenous school. There, his white schoolmates would openly mock his culture by joking about his parents’ Asian accents, refusing to enter his home because it smelled different from theirs, or telling racist jokes at school. This caused Aaron to feel deeply ashamed of his Chinese heritage so he rejected and minimized his ethnicity in order to fit in and assimilate.
However, when Aaron was in college, his roommate became interested in a girl involved in Epic Movement, Cru’s Asian American college ministry, so he invited Aaron to attend a meeting as his wingman. Aaron reluctantly agreed to go with him to an Epic weekly meeting. This was Aaron’s first exposure to an Asian American group. To his surprise, he felt remarkably comfortable with the group. They felt immediately familial. There, he found people who seemed to understand him, share a similar sense of humor, and similar values. They were asking questions about life that he found intriguing and relevant, so he continued attending their meetings. Additionally, they did not seem like the religious people that he had known before. Instead, they were vulnerable, authentic, and seemed to really know and love a God they could not see. Over time, their love and example chipped away at Aaron’s skepticism and he became a Christian after hearing the Gospel preached powerfully at a retreat.
During his senior year, he became one of the leaders who helped relaunch the Epic Movement at Oregon State University. During this time, Aaron began to sense God calling him to be a minister of the Gospel and a shepherd for other Asian Americans who have had similar experiences and struggles. Upon graduation, he began working as a youth pastor at an Asian church in Portland while pursuing two seminary degrees. Due to the struggles that he and many other Asian Americans seemed to have with emotional and relational health, he earned an M.Div and M.A. in Counseling from Western Seminary.
After completing his training, he worked as a mental health therapist to gain experience before returning to the ministry that changed his life. Now, together with his wife, Natalie, as campus missionaries for Epic, he hopes to offer to others the restoration of spiritual, cultural, emotional and relational wholeness that he experienced through his time with Epic.