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The Atlanta Taiwanese Presbyterian Church is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year. They asked me to write an article for a newsletter they're going to be putting out. They're currently having a lack of submissions, so they're not sure when they'll be publishing it. Here was my article submission...

Reflections from a Past Youth Leader
Oliver Tseng
April 2003

They called her the dragon lady, though not in front of her. The church at that time was meeting at the North Decator Presbyterian Church in front of the old Farmer's Market. After attending my American church service that morning, I had grabbed a quick bite of lunch, and rushed over to visit the Taiwanese church. There were a handful of kids there listening to the dragon lady, as the kids affectionately called her. All obviously were bored. Even I was bored. I was thinking, “This is exactly why I was never interested in Christianity. This is so boring and irrelevant. All these kids are going to grow up despising church.” That was the beginning of my first impetus to get involved at ATPC.

And my chance to help soon came. They asked me if I could lead the youth at the summer retreat. I said I would if some people could help me. And several people, including Mike (HC) Wen, Sam Wu, Wilson Chung, and Jay Yang, agreed to help out. I don't remember what happened at the retreat, but I do remember that we all had a pretty good time. So much so that some kids wanted to start coming to church. And some also wanted me to lead them.

At first, I was reluctant. I was already heavily involved at my American church. And that meant I would have to carry on responsibilities at two churches. Again, I said I would if Mike, Sam, Wilson, and Jay could help out. And they said they would.

So, we headed up the youth group for a couple of years. It was a fun time and I believe the kids generally had a fun time also. But, one big change occurred that dramatically changed things – ATPC was going to buy their own church. What that meant was that their service time would be in the morning and it would conflict with my American church. I had to decide which church to go to. Since I was so burned out after spending so much time with responsibilities at two churches, I decided to go back to my American church. Mike and Sam decided to join the Chinese Church, as well as several of the kids.

After several years, I was invited back to teach the Sunday School for one summer. I agreed to do so. During this time, my brother, Tom, started coming to church. Also, my mom was living with me. So, when summer was over, I had to decide yet once again whether to stay or to leave ATPC. This time, I decided to stay with ATPC.

And for the next several years, I attended ATPC and lead the youth group, which later became the English Ministry. Though I was primarily the only leader at the time, there were several over the years that helped me out. Christine Lee was a faithful helper and a source of encouragement. Many others also helped including Michael Chen, San Lai, Janice Cheng, Susan Chuang, Steve and Jennifer Ko, Jocelyn Hsu (later married to San), and my brother, Tom.

After working at ATPC for 5 years, I was starting to get burned out again. During this time, I was getting involved with an attractive and talented newcomer that was attending the Kalok group. Eventually, this girl accepted my marriage proposal. And since the church found David and Mari to take over the EM, I felt it was time for me/us to go off to another church.

I have many fond memories thinking back over my time with ATPC. And I hope that the kids (both young and old) that I've worked with have fond memories also. If there's anything that I tried to show while I was leading the youth at ATPC was that Christianity is not boring, but alive. It's not irrelevant, but meaningful. That it's not a lifeless formality, but a dynamic relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Some have asked if I'll come back to ATPC and lead again. I've left once before and had come back. So, it can very well happen again. It's all up to God's leading. But, whether I'm attending ATPC or not, the church will always have a fond place in my heart.

Posted: 2003-04-30 22:43:02

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