Summary of ISAAC 2009 Internship Program (East Coast)
by Andrew Lee, ISAAC East Coast Regional Director [contact Andrew]
In order to help meet the need for leaders for second-generation English language ministries in Chinese churches, ISAAC initiated a paid internship program this summer in the New York metropolitan area. This program was funded by a grant from the Fund for Theological Education. Students contemplating the prospect of vocational ministry were offered the opportunity to serve in their respective churches in order to sample a taste of full-time ministry.
The five ISAAC interns this summer were college students Rosalie Chung (Long Island Alliance Church), Jason Lee (Monmouth Chinese Christian Church), Daniel Shih (Boon Church, OCM), Jin Tian (Brooklyn Community Christian Church) and Joyce Wong (New York Chinese Baptist Church). Jesse Eng (Grace Faith Church), a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, joined the interns for their weekly meetings.
The congregations represented by the interns are geographically diverse, ranging from suburban New Jersey to inner city New York to suburban New York. It was an eye-opening experience for the interns to visit each other’s churches to see how ministry was conducted in a different setting and to learn how church space could be utilized in a new manner.
The students were guided and mentored throughout the summer by their pastor, by a lay leader in their church and by ISAAC Eastern Regional Director, Dr. Andrew Lee. At the weekly meetings led by Rev. Lee, the interns discussed selected readings from ISAAC’s Asian American Christianity Reader, deliberated on the meaning of call, and bonded together as they shared, encouraged, prayed and fellowshipped together.
As a result of this summer experience, the concept of calling took on new meaning for each intern. For some, the end of the internship does not signal the end of their service. Jason, a spring graduate of Rutgers University, informed his church leaders that he was quitting his part-time job and volunteering the rest of this year to serve full-time in his church because his part-time job “gets in the way of ministry.” Likewise Daniel, a recent graduate of Gordon College, will continue serving at his church until he leaves for a two-year pastoral apprenticeship in Australia next January. Jin, a junior at Philadelphia Bible University, committed to returning to Brooklyn each weekend to assist at her church.
The participating pastors and lay mentors also had uniformly positive evaluations of the summer experience. Each felt it was a worthwhile investment of their time. It provided them an opportunity to guide, teach and train their interns and to get to know them better. In turn, their own skills were sharpened by the experience of mentoring another person.
Another facet of this summer program included a worship service at each church where calling was the theme for that day. Each church was challenged to instill a culture of encouraging its own members to consider vocational ministry. Here, too, the pastors and lay mentors believe their churches were positively impacted. Moreover, the entire internship experience has opened the eyes of church leaders and young people to the potential of leadership through young adults. ISAAC will offer this internship program in the New York City Metropolitan Area again in the summer of 2010.