I met Justin Fung during my first quarter at Fuller in 2007. It was a time of possibilities and new beginnings for each of us. Several years later, after we’d both graduated, we met up when he was in town visiting from D.C., during one of the stifling hot spells of a Pasadena summer. We walked through Old Town Pasadena, catching up on life and visiting some of our favorite spots. Justin had completed a year-long internship with Sojourners where he lived in an intentional community and participated in this faith-based nonprofit focused on social justice and Christian discipleship. His life story already included living in Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles, and he stood in the crucial moment of deciding what was next. As I listened to him describe living in a new city and trying to piece together all the seasons of life that had come before, I heard more than a desire for the familiarity with a city, the proximity of lifelong friends, or being engaged in purposeful work. Something even deeper was rising to the surface.
I was particularly drawn to Justin’s story because I identify with his deep longing for home. I come from a family that has an interesting combination of being deeply rooted in one place while also being very global. I grew up fifth generation in my neighborhood, with both sets of grandparents in walking distance, and ancestors that built parts of the city. At the same time, my immediate family lived in South and Central America for ten years, my sister currently has a home and family in London, and I have lived in a handful of cities and countries as a young adult. I have been struggling with the questions of where to live and how to invest my education and passion long before I completed my studies at Fuller. Since completing my degree, I have been wondering if these are actually the wrong questions to start with, and perhaps miss the real longing.
During the summer of 2012 Justin made his annual trip out to Los Angeles to visit Fuller friends and his family in Huntington Beach. That time we cast our nets a little wider and went to the beach, a place that Justin always makes a point of visiting because it makes him feel at home. He seemed settled and focused, happy to see loved ones but just as happy to be going back to D.C. I listened to him talk about the District Church: his relationships, ministries, and ideas that were growing there. He seemed hopeful about his prospects, like he was making a home in the in-between.
I think Justin’s story speaks to something we all experience: the undercurrent of longing for unity with our Creator. It often gets confused, masked, or misidentified with all the other things that make up our identities and ways of functioning in the world. Learning to love the longing allows us to make a home in the in-between, as it continually pulls us back to God, and allows everything else to follow.
This article was originally published in August 2013.
Classes Christina Recommends
John Thompson‘s “Women in Church History” and late professor Dr. David Scholer’s “Women, the Bible and the Church” were very formative for me while attending Fuller. They helped me think through historical, theological, doctrinal, exegetical, and cultural issues pertaining to women in Christianity. This was very important for me as a woman studying theology and feeling called into leadership roles in the church. I felt validated and equipped to address gender topics by both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Scholer, and the material from their classes have continued to be invaluable resources.