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Seattle

Asian American InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (AAIV) is a fellowship at the University of Washington. We look to empower Asian Americans to transform the campus.

#peopleofaaiv

MEET NATHAN

AAIV UW

What has God shown you about who you are?

Growing up, I never thought of myself as a leader—certainly not one in a Christian community. But during my freshman year of college, as I began to follow Jesus seriously, He called me to lead a small group.

And I said, “NOPE!”

Doubts filled my head. You don’t know enough about the Bible. You don’t pray enough. You’re not spiritual enough. You’re not good enough.

I’ll forever be thankful that my small group leader at the time, Angela Li, who encouraged me and removed these lies from my head. She saw something in me that I never saw in myself. God used her to push me out of my comfort zone and take a risk: become a small group leader.

Since that moment, I’ve never looked back.

The following year, God blessed me with an amazing small group. There was so much fruit and joy that came out of it; not because of anything that I did, but because God was faithful and was next to me every step of the way.

God showed me that I could be a leader in His church—that I had gifts meant to glorify Him and serve others. I learned that being a leader in God’s community is not about being confident and extroverted. It’s not about being a good public speaker. It’s not about having Biblical knowledge. It’s certainly not about having it all figured it out.

When you follow Jesus, He’ll call you into things that are uncomfortable and even scary. And I feel that we often make excuses as to why we we’re not cut out for these things. And we allow these lies to dictate our lives. And we remain comfortable to the point of complacency.

But in the Gospels, Jesus calls the most ordinary fishermen to be His disciples. He didn’t go find the best public speakers or the most knowledgeable teachers. He called some average Joes to be the foundation of His church.

I used to believe that there’s all these prerequisites to serving God, like when you apply to a major. But Jesus never says, “Come, follow me… if you meet my requirements."

He says, “Come, follow me, and let me handle the rest." That’s the only prerequisite – to say YES to Jesus.

I hope that each of us in AAIV will say YES to Jesus too, in whatever way that may be. Because in God’s Kingdom, we all have something to offer. 

MEET JASON

AAIV UW

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How has the AAIV community impacted your college experience so far?

It was probably my second day on campus when Brenden, Evan, and I decided to check out the basketball courts at the IMA. I remember walking into the building to find the place packed, with little space to shoot hoops on. We saw this big group of guys looking like they were having a great time when out of the blue, one of them asked us if we wanted to join their pick-up game. That person was Weda. From there, we were introduced to the rest of the Saturday Morning Sports crew, and ultimately AAIV. Entering college, my top priority was to find a smaller community where I could create strong friendships, find support, and challenge myself to grow. I’m blessed to have found AAIV that day at the IMA. As I became more involved in the fellowship, what amazed me the most was how quickly I felt like I was apart of the community. Honestly, I never expected to become friends with any juniors or seniors this year; I remember getting to know a bunch of the AAIV upperclassmen while watching the Huskies play Colorado. My small group has been amazing too (shout out to Maple Men’s). From hooping, playing 2K, and deep frying smores, it’s amazing to see how we’ve formed a brotherhood in such a short period of time. And just being surrounded by an amazing group of people at large group has helped me grow exponentially in my identity and faith in God. AAIV has been everything I looked for in a community, and ultimately, it’s a blessing from above that I was able to find it only a couple days into my freshman year. 

MEET ELIZABETH

AAIV UW

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What does community mean to you?

Community has played an extremely important role in my walk with Christ, especially growing up in a non-Christian family and not having the chance to attend church regularly until this year. For me, community has always been a place I could call home. It’s a place where I could learn and be surrounded by like-minded brothers and sisters. It's a place where I could share joy and my burdens of simple things like school, or the brokenness and hurt weighing heavily on my heart. It’s a place where people can worship together, laugh together, cry together, pray together, and grow together. You can hold each other accountable. Most importantly, you are there to love and support one another just as the Lord has commanded us (John 13:34). Community was something I found in my high school fellowship and it was something I was eager to find in college.

On the night of the first AAIV large group, my fears of commuting home (to Renton) alone in the dark and the anxiousness of being a socially-awkward person, having to actually SOCIALIZE, almost kept me away from attending, as it did the day before for a different fellowship. All throughout the day I wrestled with my thoughts saying, “I REALLY want to go but—”, and then it clicked “but what?!” I realized I was letting my fears and anxieties keep me away from something so important to me. While praying that afternoon I could hear the loving voice of God reminding me to trust in Him, and He will provide for me. So, I took His cue and went that night, and He really did provide for me—He brought me to find a new friend and sister who I could commute home with on those late nights, as well as led me to find community within the Commuter’s Small Group Family.

This year God has really been reminding me the importance of community and to seek Him out even in the smallest of trials. He has also really opened my eyes to the amazing people He has placed in my life so far (like friends who spam my texts making sure I’m home safe or my gracious parents who pick me up late at night), and I’m excited to deepen old friendships as well as I continue to make new ones through AAIV this year!

MEET GEORGE

AAIV UW

What have you learned so far in college that you didn't expect?

I've been a bigger person for the majority of my life. Compared to all the other Asians back at my home church, I've always been the biggest. It was probably the worst in high school, when many adults in my church would comment on my weight or tease me about it. And while I know it was good fun, by no means did it boost my self confidence...

I began college feeling pretty bad about myself. Everyone else just felt more attractive than I could ever be. I happened to stumble upon AAIV and I joined a little out of desperation. I was so lonely I just needed to be around other people. But even then, I still felt very similar to how I grew up feeling, with everyone being very good looking, and me being me. 

But this feeling quickly changed. When I started to engage more with the community, I realized that everyone in this community was so nice and accepting of who I was. It felt almost unreal. I have never had a community that I could feel so comfortable around.

However, by no means does this mean everything is fixed or that I have truly accepted myself for who I am. Days can still be rough. Some days I still don't even want to leave my bed... But life has become so much better. Thanks to the people in AAIV, I am reminded that I am LOVED just the way I am and that I'm more than I ever thought I was.

MEET ANGELA

AAIV UW

(A journal entry from one year ago)

"Angela, focus. Why are your heart and mind so far away? Yeah, you remember feeling so hurt, broken, lonely, tired, lost all these years. But do you ALSO remember your prayers? Remember chasing after God and finding the comfort and love you've been missing in your life? Remember the miracles He has shown you without you even asking? Remember the joy He gave you when you gave your all to Him? Angela, REMEMBER. Even when things hurt, never forget His goodness. He has been the light in the darkness this entire time. He is always and constantly blessing you—giving you everything you need and more. He loves you, so delight in Him." 

Last year, God helped me recognize that my self-worth was tainted. My heart had been shattered by things of this world, and I believed it could never be mended. But God reminded me that He longs to heal me and cleanse my heart, and with the power of prayer, He revealed Himself to me in ways that I could never imagine. My first two years of college was solely focused on always seeking Him. My priority was finding Him in every situation I ran into, YET my faith always wavered... But I realized that even though my faith shakes, the One I put my faith IN is UNSHAKABLE, and that gave me so much peace. By learning to stand firm in my faith and to fully surrender to Him, God answered my prayers for steadfastness.

This year, I have been exposed to Jesus in new and greater ways. I am learning how to be used well to expand His kingdom. I have never been more confident in who I am, and despite any challenges I face, I am overflowing with joy because my LIFE and IDENTITY are now firmly rooted in Him. I know I will always have so much more to learn and to grow, but I declare that Christ is my SAVIOR and that I commit every day to choosing Him.

MEET CHRISTINE

AAIV UW

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What area in your life is God wanting to transform?

I believe that God has really been putting reconciliation of broken relationships on my heart for the past few years.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD WORK. 

Sometimes I wonder if they are even worth keeping, and often times I just want to give up. However, I hear God’s tender voice in the midst of my pain and He says,

“In all your rebellion, I never abandoned you.”

And so when I reflect on His faithful commitment and His unchanging love, I am compelled to mend the broken relationships in my life. It’s not easy work. How do you reconcile with someone who has no desire to rebuild a relationship? How do you set down your pride to reach out to someone and apologize? I don’t know. I really don’t think you can on your own. I have only ever been able to when God transforms my heart. When He finally takes away my bitterness, when He humbles me to think beyond my selfish comfort, He stirs me to reach out. To send that one text, make that one phone call, or say something first. He is the one who moves through me to fix the brokenness in my life. He changes my perspective to pray for the person I need to reconcile with. I’m working through a process of reconciliation right now and I really struggle with wanting to stay selfish and continuing to ignore my friend because of my own pettiness... I’m currently waiting for my heart to catch up to the righteousness of God, so that I can be gladly obedient to Him.

When it comes to reconciliation, I can say with confidence that the next one always gets easier. Over and over, and in those small steps of obedience, He leads me to conquer mountains of separation and be a part of a community that is striving to be centered around Him.

Just as God never gave up on me, I’m trying not to give up on the people who are called to be my community. God, in His perfection, as the trinity, demonstrates perfect love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “We love because He first loved us.” - 1 John 4:19

MEET JAKE

AAIV UW

What have you learned from your personal walk with Christ?

My church has seen better days, starting with the leadership of the legendary Daniel Cohen and ending with my senior year in high school. I learned in those times that it’s easy being a Christian when it’s convenient. Then the fire nation attacked...

Just kidding, but my parents left the church. My community shattered as other families left too. I was abruptly forced into a leadership position that I wasn't prepared for, leading the worship band. I grew to resent it. Not only was I insecure about leading, but I was also upset about this change in my life. My attitude in leading became obvious to the rest of the youth group, which only consisted of 4 middle schoolers, and my faith became inauthentic. Resentment and bitterness built up in my heart toward my church, my parents, and even God.

Looking back at that part of my life, I learned a valuable truth about loving Jesus: It is not going to be a walk in the park. The world will batter you either spiritually, emotionally or physically. Whether if it is subtle or direct, small or big, the enemy will want me to turn my back on God. But in learning this truth, it led me to understand another truth, a beautiful, amazing truth: God will always welcome you back with open arms, regardless of what you have done or where you have been.

After my freshman year at UW and after experiencing the awesome community of AAIV, I sought healing. The summer after freshmen year at UW was different. I chose to change my attitude and go back to church. I led worship again and I didn’t care how I sounded to the youth group. And you know what, some of them (like 2), even started to sing more too. God is SO GOOD. My parents and I mended our broken relationship, and even more importantly, I pursued God. I pursued a genuine faith in my relationship with Him. My church is still in need of revival, but I have complete trust in my Saviour that he will transform the community where I first encountered His love.

Job 1:21 reads, “[and said]: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’”

Seriously, may the name of the Lord be praised, through the best of times and worst of times.

MEET CYRUS

AAIV UW

What does living a life transformed by Jesus mean to you?

Living a life transformed by Jesus is a life of freedom, victory, and opportunity. I grew up in the church and I always thought that I was “good” and “Christian”. In high school, no one could tell I was Christian because my life outside of church wasn’t consistent with who I was at church... I had everyone fooled, even myself. Living with two identities eventually it took its toll on me. During my senior year of high school, I grew tired of the double life that I was living, I grew tired of hiding things. I asked myself the big questions. Is God real? Are all of the things I have learned in church real? Is all of this worth it?

During this time I remember hearing Revelation 3:15-16 during a message at church... “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” I had heard that verse before, but this time, it was different. It resonated with me. I remember praying to God in desperation for him to change me and to move his Spirit within me. It was during that prayer when everything I had grown up hearing in church became real to me and started to make more sense. I saw how much God truly loves me by sending Jesus to die on the cross to save me. Through that encounter, I was able to intimately experience the transforming love of Jesus for reals. The best part of that experience is knowing that Jesus doesn't transform us once or twice, but he continues to transform us daily when we dedicate our lives to Him. 

#PEOPLEOFAAIV

AAIV UW

For the 2016-2017 year, AAIV will be starting a new series called "People of AAIV," which is similar to Humans of New York, but individuals will be asked various questions around the topic of faith! Answers will be shared every Sunday! If you, or someone you know, would like to participate, please let someone on the leader's team know so that we can feature you! 

We are also going to share devotionals/testimonies throughout the year from people in AAIV, so stay tuned! Through sharing one another's stories, we hope to empower one another so that together, we can boldly live out our faith on campus!