I Am A “CBA”

“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!

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3 thoughts on “I Am A “CBA”

  1. hi tim, i am jenny : ) i have read some of your entries and i am truly inspired by your attitudes in life. i am impressed by how much you love and value god. i feel ashamed for not being as faithful as you do, and could not write as good as you do. but i hope i can learn from you : )

    at the time when you asked for my xanga, i was a bit hesitant indeed. this was becoz i have never given my xanga id to anyone i met in the united states, even good friends like tracy and some others dont have it. that’s becoz i mainly use xanga as a channel for me to communicate my frds in hk and so some of the entries were written specially for them. so when you read it, i hope you wont mind!

    besides, there was something in my past that i did not quite want others to know. i did not lie to hide this past. but i just did not tell others. but anyway, i have decided to give my xanga address to you because i know god doesnt want me to disguise and live under a shadow. i dont know what will be the consequences if others find out about it, but anyway, i trust you and i trust god. no matter what will happen, i am sure this is his best plan for me.

    maybe i have thought too much. i am not sure. but when you know me more, you will soon know the fact that i am really quite a thoughtful person who enjoys thinking about everything, like the meaning of life, true friendship and love etc. there is one verse that i like very much and i also used it in my xanga’s headline. it is “you were made by god and for god, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.” this is just so true. in the past, i always could not understand life and come to any conclusion about all those questions i struggle hard on. yet, after i knew god, life really began to make sense.

    feel free to send me emails/ comment on my entries. i do not write as frequently as you do, and i am really not a good writer. hope you will not look down at me (i am sure you wont, right?)

    see ya next week!

  2. Jenny, it was great to hear your sharing last night, but I was truly truly impressed by your honest and poignant writings.

    I’ll talk more with you next week!

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