About the Author:

Bernard Tam
Bernard is a coffee enthusiast, neighbourhood connector and one of the pastors at The Living Room Church in Midtown, Toronto. Regularly you can find Bernard at local specialty coffee shops learning to be present in the neighbourhood while enjoying every sip of local roasted coffee. He is also one of the cohost of the Canadian Asian Missional Podcast - a conversation that engages with the movements of the Canadian Asian Church.
By |2019-02-08T16:18:10-04:00February 11th, 2019|Blog, Church Planting, Contributor Profiles|Comments Off on A Narrative of Bridge Building

We want to introduce you to the New Leaf Blog contributors by giving them a chance for them to share their story. Sharing today, Bernard Tam.

It is often weird having to write about yourself; to paint a narrative that would best help others know who you are. If you know me well you would know that my first offering would be to sit and have coffee with you; face to face, sentence to sentence, presence to presence. Yet, for those who are part of the New Leaf blogosphere, perhaps a blog post like this is the best to introduce myself.

Sometimes it is easy to use all the nouns to describe who I am; husband, father to my two rambunctious boys, pastor of a small church in the core of Toronto and a coffee affecienato. Yet I wonder if those become too much of a surface level talk instead of really digging deeper into how I am learning about my God-wirings.

So here goes, I’ve lived in Toronto for most of my life; 27 years to be exact, but yet I still hold true to a 1.5 generation. For some I am known as the bridger generation; not so Chinese because I’ve lived most of my life in Canada, but not so Canadian that I have lost most of my Chinese culture. I am bi-cultural and proud. This city has been such a big part of who I am. It is here where I met God and where my life changed. In this city, my heart, my eyes and my soul were opened to the way of God.

Vision and Mission statements are something that I am always interested in because they reveal the core identity (at least the aspiration) of the company. One company in particular (I’m sure many people share many of the same ideologies), Indigo really inspires and challenges me. Their mission is to inspire our customers and those they care about with life-enriching products and experiences. And their vision is making connections creating experiences. I love these words because I recognize how it isn’t about particular products, likes books, but it is about the experience when one engages with this company. Their desire is to inspire, connect and create. In many ways, as I look back at my own life, perhaps I wonder if my role is to inspire.

Although I am the local church pastor at The Living Room Church I don’t consider myself a traditional pastor-sort. I am not very strong in my teaching gifts nor am I the greatest shepherd. This is not me trying to be proudly humble but recognizing how God has wired me. Many have said that I am a great networker; connected to many people/ministries/organization, and a brain to help sort it all out. If I am honest, my passion for “networking” is because I love narratives and I love to share these narratives to inspire and challenge others.

How the city of Toronto, and God’s narrative, have taught me, is that all of God’s narrative is so deeply woven together. It is the culture (sometimes even the church culture) that sought to break apart the wovenness of the city. That is not to say that I am a universalist or what not, but I see the city through lenses of what God is doing and what God can do to restore and reconcile. Thus every narrative is precious to me and I love to handle and share these narratives delicately to inspire the church, challenge communities, and help create new journeys.

Every narrative is precious to me and I love to handle and share these narratives delicately to inspire the church, challenge communities, and help create new journeys. - Bernard Tam Click To Tweet

I will conclude with this thought, when asked which is your favourite Biblical character (excluding Jesus because He is everyone’s favourite), many people would usually pull out the likes of Moses, David, Paul, Peter, to name a few. There is one narrative in scripture that has etched into my mind and that is the vision of Ezekiel.

30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. 31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”(Eze 22:30-31)

God asks the nation of Israel to whom would be willing to stand between the gap. No one dares to do so and God’s wrath has been brought upon them. Now we know theologically that it is Jesus who became the ultimate intercessor between people and God. As someone who is bicultural, I wonder if my role as a networker is to be a translator; to bridge cultures, people and narratives. Perhaps that’s my weird and unique role for the Kingdom. And thus this is also my posture as I offer and share my reflections and thoughts here in this blogosphere.

photo credit: jplenio