[The following article was published in Presbyterians Today*. You can find the original online article here.]
I have had two conversions in my life. The first happened when I converted from my Buddhist upbringing to Christianity at 19. I quickly joined a 20,000-person megachurch and dropped out of premed to become a religion major at the nearest Christian liberal arts college. This decision was not popular in the Yamada household. I was neither a Christian nor the son of a Christian. I was a dentist’s son.
My second conversion came during seminary, where I learned that the book of Genesis presents two different creation narratives and that Christianity comprises not one but many traditions. I studied Augustine, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and, of course, Calvin. I read Walter Brueggemann, Delores Williams, Kwok Pui Lan, and Phyllis Trible. Seminary was where I found out that there was such a thing as Asian American theology and ministry. Seminary deepened my faith and sense of call and provided a supportive community. It taught me how to care for people in hospitals and in our pews, to translate theology into worship, community service, and education, and to pursue justice.
There is no question: I am a convert to theological education.