“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God”” (Ruth 1:16)
You all who’ve been in United States have heard that they say there are two kinds of Chinese: OBC (overseas born Chinese) and ABC (American born Chinese). But the longer I live here, the more I feel I don’t belong in either of these categories. I would prefer to call myself a CBA (Chinese born American).
When I first came to USA almost 20 years ago, I lived with an American family for a year in a small town in Kansas and really soaked in the American culture in the high school and through the town’s activities and the American family’s culture and tradition. I had quickly forgotten how badly I missed my high school friends in Hong Kong and grown to love this country. These was a certain kind of freedom and individualism that was much better than in Hong Kong when you’re seen as a weirdo if you don’t follow what everyone else does. In fact, at one point, I really wanted to be 100% American so much that I wanted to avoid Chinese people. When I first went to Texas for school, there was one semester when I actually spoke English to everyone I knew, including fellow Chinese friends.
But then the Tianamen Square event in 1989 changed me. As I watched the news, I felt the kind of pain that I’ve never felt before, that it was like my own flesh and blood was being tortured by the soldiers on that day. Before, I wanted to be American. After that day, I wanted to learn how to be a Chinese with a worldwide perspective.
At the same time, I still enjoyed the American culture more in some ways. My favorite sports are baseball and American football. I love writing and reading and thinking in English. I listen to English songs all the time. I enjoyed watching Seinfeld which was a comedy that Chinese people may not “get”. But all that American stuff is outward stuff. Inside, I bleed Chinese. I hurt inside when I hear Chinese people being persecuted or prejudiced against. I crinch when I see movies portraying stereotypical Chinese people as rigid or quiet. I cheer when I see Chinese people succeed, like the Chinese gal who’s on USA Olympic women’s hockey team. And my primary ministry and service is to Chinese churches and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As the day approaches that Wendy and I will give birth to a so-called ABC kid, I’d like to call on all the so-called OBCs and so-called ABCs to all think of themselves as CBAs, and live as dual-identity citizens in this earthly country. After all, we Christians should have this dual-identity mentality anyway as we are also citizens of the heavenly country.
BTW, check out “The Exodus” worship CD, made a few years ago by some LA-based CBA Christians!