PUC alum Alex Chang (B.S. in Chemistry with a Biochemistry Emphasis ‘19) recently published a book titled, Your Corner. The book is about his experience with missions- including stories from his time as a PUC student missionary. After Alex’s first year as a missionary, he received great advice, mentors, teachers, lessons, and experiences he felt might be beneficial to share- so Alex started writing during his first year of medical school and finished writing after three years. Your Corner shares Alex’s experience as a student missionary and is intended to inspire people towards the global and local mission, as well as a closer walk with good.
Tell us about your book. What inspired you to write and publish it?
Everyone has a corner. It may be comprised of friends, family, church members, classmates, local community (even including the cashier at your grocery store), or a global community. I believe that God has called everyone to be missionaries. All are local missionaries. Some are called globally as well. In this book are stories from the mission field, thoughts on how to optimize a local or global missions experience, and inspiration to follow God’s calling and purpose for our lives.
This book can be used as a devotional book to prepare student missionaries for their service, to help guide local and global missionaries, or for those simply interested in reading about the experiences and lessons a student missionary on the island of Pohnpei learned after two years of service.
Additionally, I wanted to create a book that would help both local and global missionaries in each season as they prepare for their ministry, while they are involved with it, and once they are done with their ministry or time abroad. At the end of the day, my hope is that this book is an inspiration to embrace our God-given calling to be missionaries, either local, global, or both.
You include stories from your time as a PUC student missionary. Who encouraged you to be a student missionary?
I believe it actually started multiple generations ago. My great-great-grandfather on my mom’s side and my great-grandfather on my dad’s side were missionaries. My grandfather on my dads was a missionary for multiple decades in Southeast Asia, and my father was a mission trip leader for our local church. Missions have always been engrained into our family identity and culture. The seed for serving as a student missionary was watered early from stories shared by my youth pastor in 4th grade, Garrison Chaffee. He shared stories of his time on the islands as a student missionary. This in combination with mission spotlight at church, church presentations of recent mission trips, student missionary presentations at Leoni Meadows, and eight short term-mission trips my family took me on really grew my passion for missions.
What are your best memories of being a PUC student missionary?
The exciting memories I love to share are swimming with manta rays, breathtaking sunsets with colors I feel like I had never seen before, racing dolphins on our boat, drinking fresh coconuts on screensaver beaches, and experiencing bioluminescent water while stargazing with basically zero light pollution. The deep, meaningful memories that come to mind are moments laughing with my students, playing ocean tag on an island with my senior class, being a human jungle gym at recess for the elementary students, singing songs with the high school for chapel, and hanging out with the 16 or so student missionaries every single day.
How did your time at PUC impact your spiritual life?
PUC had a massive impact on my spiritual life. I always share with others that one of PUC’s greatest strengths was its support of its students in ministry. PUC made it very easy to get involved with worship music, spiritual leadership, or even start new programs or churches. A couple of faculty come to mind that played a big role in my spiritual development such as Jim Roy, Pastor Jonathan Henderson, Pastor Kent Rufo, Pastor Mark Witas, Pastor David Carreon, Fabio Maia, and so many other faculty. We had incredible support during the time we started the student-led church, “The 12”, and I had incredible support and mentorship not only in my spiritual life but also in my academics and how that affected my decision to be an SM. I used to meet with Kent Davis with ideas of finishing college a year early so I could go as an SM and finish in four years. Dr. Davis always responded with a wise, personally life-changing phrase, “What’s the rush?” I ended up staying an extra year in the mission field, met my now-fiancé that second year, and made even more lifelong memories and friendships. My time at PUC was filled with an amazing culture of passionately pursuing God together as a school. Vespers, church services, dorm worships, and the faculty all were very influential for me.
What advice do you have for students interested in being a missionary?
Being an SM was hands-down the best two years of my life. My time as a student missionary gave me purpose, passion, direction, growth, lessons, experiences, and friendships that have filled my life to the brim and overflowing. In my opinion, the question is not “whether or not to be a student missionary”, but “where are you going to serve as a missionary.” Other than choosing to follow Jesus, I don’t believe there is a better decision than to choose to be a missionary. I would encourage anyone interested and those who had never considered it to pray about potentially serving as a student missionary.
What have you been up to since graduating from PUC?
I am currently in my last year of medical school at Loma Linda University. I am applying to an Orthopedic Surgery residency this year, and I have dreams of returning to the mission field to serve as a doctor. I am getting married in the spring of 2023 and am excited for what God has in store for the next chapters of my life!