“I’m an experimenter,” Chuang said. “My heart is in the church, the Asian American church. But church is not known for being a place of research and development.”
Chuang left formal ministry and became a consultant, working for churches, parachurch organizations and Christian nonprofits, always aiming to help Asian American Christians become more digitally savvy and culturally responsive.
He’s helping Brea’s Ambassador Church expand its network of sister churches and advising La Mirada’s Talbot Seminary as it develops one of America’s first doctoral programs in Asian American ministry.
Chuang is a manic presence, especially online. He was, he says, the first person in Orange County to sign up for Twitter seven years ago (a distinction confirmed by the rankings website Twitaholic). He tweets throughout each day, blogs, produces a weekly podcast and talks by phone, Skype and Google Chat with a nationwide roster of church leaders. Callers make appointments via an interactive scheduler on Chuang’s website.
Last year, Chuang traveled 35,839 miles in 74 days on 16 trips to conferences and meetings. This information comes from the Chuang family Christmas card, which also details the number of followers (7,000) Chuang has on Twitter and the number of reward points he earned last year at Starbucks (50).
Since 2005, Chuang has edited two books on Asian American ministry, produced a report on current trends in Asian American churches, written 23 magazine articles and made 28 presentations at church conferences and seminars – achievements tabulated, in chronological order, on Chuang’s website.
Chuang has bipolar disorder. He has been successfully treated for the condition since 2001. But he attributes his numerous career changes and intellectual restlessness, in part, to manic episodes.
His periods of depression, he said, brought him near suicide. And they convinced him that helping Asian American churches become more culturally inclusive is tantamount to a life-or-death calling.
“It’s very hard for Asians to talk about their weaknesses,” Chuang said, explaining why he waited years before publicly acknowledging his condition and seeking treatment.
Chuang said traditional Asian American churches are especially inhospitable to painful personal problems because many Asian cultures prize a veneer of stoic hard work and moral respectability.
“I want to bring churches into a place to deal more honestly with the real person,” Chuang said.
“I would like to see Asian Americans become more healthy and whole as people.”
To read the full article on the Orange County Register website, visit here.
Also, DJ gave an inspiring talk at Urbana 12’s PANA lounge, called: “Step Up, Speak Up, Live It Up,” which you can find in transcript and audio format on his website, or in video format on Intervarsity Asian American Ministries’ website.