I grew up on the East Coast, the youngest son of a second-generation Japanese-American man, whose family was interned in the concentration camps of WW2, and a second-generation German-American woman, whose parents immigrated here before the Great Depression. Both sides of my family worked very hard to become educated and succeed, and so my parents, who were both working, taught me and my siblings the importance of hard work, education, persistence, and self-reliance. We were barely religious, though like much of the community we tried to be a good family and good neighbors (though at various times, some of "the boys" did wreak a "little" havoc in our community!). When I was in high school I knew a Christian girl in one of my classes who wrote, "God bless you" in my yearbook. I still remember that because I thought it very strange for someone to write that, yet that became one of the first seeds of life sown into my heart.
When I went onto college to study civil engineering at Cornell University, I aspired to succeed by following my parents' pattern. The very high academic standard worked wonders in humbling me. At the same time, there was a dormmate named Earl, who told me about his experience with Jesus Christ as a high school senior. Again, I thought it strange, well, very strange. I was perplexed, but since Earl was ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and a wrestler like me, we got to know each other more, and everything about him was impressive to me…but the part about Jesus Christ remained perplexing.
During the ensuing 3.5 years, I was on an interesting journey of sorts, both academically, socially, and spiritually. There's too much to tell...stories like the time I visited my Comparative Studies professor, who “scared me to life” with his personal testimony about what it meant to be a Christian…“It’s like marriage”, or reading the fascinating book “More than a Carpenter” or talking to my ROTC friends about the meaning of life. By my senior year, things came to a head. After wrestling with the thought of God for nearly 3.5 years, I prayed, in faith, to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior one evening senior year about midnight, in the Civil Engineering building (of all places!) during my "study" time. I later realized, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and I set you that you should go forth and bear fruit..." (John 15:16) The joy of the Lord’s presence that followed was overwhelming, surprising, and amazing.
Since that formative moment in my life, my journey has continued. While I have advanced as an Air Force officer, in the private engineering sector, in graduate school and academia, and in my personal life with my wife and 4 wonderful children, I have simultaneously enjoyed a path God has prepared. While I spend much time to raise my kids and maintain a meaningful family life and church life, as well as train a high-caliber next generation of civil engineers (especially in my area of structural concrete) and conduct "concrete" research…that is not all. This may shock some of my students: There is more to life than "concrete"! Yes, I said it! 🙂
My highest goal? Something expressed by one of the formerly great opponents of Christians, Saul of Tarsus, who said after he got captured: "I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward." (Phil. 3:14) If you want to know more about my journey or share something of yours, feel free to reach out to me.