My name is Zach Chen. Fun fact about myself, in high school, I was voted “Most Shy” for my class of +800 students. Not that I was actually shy. I was just really, really quiet (i.e., sometimes I literally wouldn’t say a word for days). Having missed the opportunity to learn how to converse with people all through middle and high school, once I got to college, I didn’t have any conversational ability. I remember the first people that I met coming to Lighthouse were Kenny Tsuruda, Patti Tsuruda, and Bill Hirokawa. I remember because I appreciated that they were so warm and inviting and unfazed by my silence. I thought, “Even though all of the socializing makes me uncomfortable, this is how a church should be: welcoming regardless of anything.”
Fast forward 1 year, and I was thinking about leaving Lighthouse because it was hard to find community or ways to serve as an anti-social college student. Both community and an opportunity to serve came from a special needs ministry that was just starting to develop.
During first year of serving, I found that I looked forward to every “Good morning” high five and all the little interactions. There was no fear of being judged. It was just community that I never would have thought would ease me out of my shell.
Finding community as you find a place to serve should be a given at church, but in all honesty, I had thought that a non-verbal kid with autism had nothing to offer me. I had thought that I would just be the one giving. But that was wrong. God broke down the mental walls and pride that kept me from this unique fellowship.
During this year of quarantine, I’ve been marinating in my introversion and anti-social tendencies. But every now and then, I would hear a random “WHUYAH” in the background on Zoom or a virtual D&D session and miss my Bridge community.
Coming back to in-person Lighthouse, I had to relearn how to be in community and fellowship. I will admit that I flinched and tensed up the first time someone approached me to talk to me on my first week back. But as Bridge Ministry started back up, it felt like a typical Sunday of “Good morning” high fives and many requests for “white car.” Socializing is still a work in progress, but God and the Bridge families have been gracious in being a part of it all.