Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces a fabulous minister, and today we are proud to introduce Cindy Hong.
Cindy, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
As the daughter of two chemists, I was embarrassed to get a “C” in high school chemistry. Looking back, perhaps that experience served as a catalyst and permission for me to explore other paths. The path I chose was majoring in psychology at the University of North Carolina and enrolling in a master’s program at Wheaton College. A few months prior to finishing at Wheaton, I began to sense a prompting into ministry. A part of my preparation for ministry was living for two years in Taiwan, learning the language and being immersed in the culture. After returning to North Carolina, and while discerning next steps, I worked for a couple of years in human resources and marketing and taught high school Sunday school at church. Both my work and the questions of the teenagers seemed to confirm that my next step was seminary.
While at Dallas Theological Seminary, I never imagined myself working at church, but I started serving part-time with the youth and loved it. A church gave me the freedom to explore my gifts and provided the push I needed to try new things. I will always be grateful for these two pastors who encouraged me to preach. After seminary and after being on staff full-time for a couple of years as an associate minister, I became the children’s minister at a larger church in Houston. A few years later God’s calling seemed to evolve toward hospital ministry, and after completing clinical pastoral education in 2015, I now serve as a chaplain in a community hospital in Sugar Land, Texas.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
In 1998, during my first year of seminary, I had a class with a professor who had been teaching for over forty years. As part of his introduction, he shared something along the lines of, “I can’t believe God called someone like me and that I get to do this with my life.” I remember wondering what it would be like to experience that feeling.
Today, I can say that being used by God in ways beyond what I could’ve asked or imagined is a great source of joy. Other sources of joy include connecting with others, walking with and accompanying them where they are, and seeing something new happen through being together—whether in conversation, Christian education, or pastoral care.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
Challenges include the years needed and the patience required to find my path and my lane as an Asian-American female in ministry, trusting the gifts and strengths that God has given me, not comparing myself to others, choosing courage over cautiousness, risking to lean in rather than observing from the outside, and having the willingness to try different things.
What has been the best ministry advice you have ever received?
I’ve always focused more on my weaknesses than my strengths, and as a result of that, I spent more time, effort, and energy trying to get better at what I wasn’t good at instead of honing my strengths and finding ways to be more effective. During a class at Fuller Seminary, we looked at how to better serve out of our strengths, and complement our weaker areas with the strengths of others, serving together as a team. I’m also learning to be kind and gracious to myself in areas that I’m not good rather than compare myself to others.
This truth was reiterated to me in another way by a colleague in administration at the hospital where I currently serve as chaplain. When I started this position and was trying to find my own way rather than blindly following the chaplain who was here before me, my colleague told me to do what works for me, to do what I am good at, and to find my niche in this hospital.