Hannah Ling Thoughts and writings from Pittsburgh

Why CPI?

Hi everyone! Welcome to my website.

This is actually not my first time doing this. I had a blog from 8th grade to 12th grade, the url which is hopefully hidden somewhere deep, deep on the internet. I want to update my friends and family with what I’m doing at Pittsburgh, and keep a record for myself as well. To be clear, everything I’m going to write is just my own thoughts and experiences, not trying to preach anything or speak for anyone else.

As most of you know, I just graduated from UC Berkeley and I’ll be spending my first year out of college at Klesis@CMU as a Church Plant Intern(CPI). I have a month of training first before leaving for Pittsburgh at the end of July along with nine of my peers, but first I wanted to explain a bit more about what this is, and why I’m doing it.

As CPIs, we’ll be helping build up our Gracepoint Pittsburgh church by helping with campus bible study and services, reaching out to new students, and helping whoever’s interested to learn about Christianity and grow in their faith. Also probably things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and babysitting.

I did not think this is what I would be doing upon graduation. Coming into college, my goal was to achieve a bunch of awesome things and land a great job (and guy) so others would respect and admire me. I knew all the Christian beliefs, but none of them felt particularly personal or relevant. I did not like church. To be honest, I didn’t really care about God as anything more than something I could pray to to ensure my success.

At college, I stumbled upon my church and was blown away by a community where people were dedicated to each other, to seriously studying God’s word and living it out. During this time I was convicted as a sinner–my apathy towards God was not just unfortunate, but a serious rejection of his love that resulted in selfishness and bitterness towards others. But Jesus came and died in my place so I could be forgiven and have an eternal personal relationship with God. I realized that that was the love that I had been looking for all along. I experienced this coming alive through being loved and forgiven by others in the church.

Over the next four years, I began to see college as a precious window of opportunity and see the gospel as the one thing I wanted my life to be about. I decided that no matter what career path I chose, I would commit myself to the people in the church and our shared vision of planting churches on college campuses.

At the end of my freshman year(2015), a few seniors became CPIs and started our Seattle church, first putting CPI on my radar. In summer 2017, we started churches on campuses in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey. Meanwhile, I interned at Splunk having a lot of fun doing something I loved with some really cool people. In early August, I hadn’t heard anything about CPIs, and assuming there would be no church plants this year, I accepted a full-time offer starting July 2018.

I was sitting at La Vals eating a margherita pizza in December when I got the notice that there was the opportunity to be a CPI this year. In the upcoming month, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do. Eventually I resolved that either Christianity was true or not, my life was going to be about the gospel or not, and if it was, I never wanted to be limited by fear of others’ disapproval or the pull of a lucrative salary and cushy career. My first year out of college is when I’m going to (hopefully) have the most freedom and the most energy. It’s an opportunity to put a stake in the ground for myself about what I want the rest of my life to be like.

Amazingly, God provided (through my amazing former manager) and Splunk revised my offer to start July 2019 instead.

So the first reason I’m going is out of gratitude for what God has done and a desire to participate in his work of saving souls. The gospel has to be transmitted not only through words but through being lived out among a community of people. There is such a need for solid, gospel-centered churches on campuses where students can get their questions answered and be welcomed into God’s people. I was lucky enough to experience this kind of church, and I want to build it so that others can experience it as well.

However, to be clear, God doesn’t need me on his mission, and it’s not out of any spiritual qualification that I’m being sent. I’ve made mistakes, missed opportunities, and hurt people and despite my best efforts, will continue to do so in the future. Even my best performance, Isaiah says, is like “filthy rags” compared to God’s righteousness. Going doesn’t make me any “better” in God’s eyes, because the gospel says I’m already a complete failure whose status before God comes 100% from Jesus’s cleansing sacrifice. That means that I could quit tomorrow and spend the next year reading BTS fanfiction instead, and God would love me the exact same.

The second reason I’m going is so I could experience God in a new way. Something I’ve been thinking about is how my experience of God became richer the more I stretched myself in ministry. Before, when my life consisted of consumning anime and YA novels, going to school, and sitting in a church service once a week, how much of God did I get to experience? No one to annoy me, so it was (relatively) easy to be patient. It’s (relatively) easy to love my family and friends, so love was easy. Nothing to persevere past (besides the Shingeki no Kyojin mid-season slump), no one to exhort or rebuke, no one exhorting or rebuking me. Christian life was easy and uneventful, and in my mind, I was a loving, patient, persevering person.

When I started to work together to do ministry, bumping up against others, all that changed. People annoyed me and I annoyed people. I saw how unloving and selfish I actually was when I tried and failed to love younger sisters. So when pushed beyond my comfort zone, I saw my own sin more clearly, I experienced more of God’s grace, and I was able to grow.

Going to Pittsburgh will do that to me, even more so. It’s a huge blessing that I can go, when I know there are so many of my peers who would love to go but have many circumstances preventing them. I’m thankful that out of love and grace, my church is willing to spend resources so I can experience this.

That was a very long post. (That’s the purpose of a blog, to give opinionated people like me the opportunity to talk as long as I want with no one to interrupt me!) This upcoming week, I’ll be camping in Yosemite (No internet! No showers! No real beds!) and then to the Bay Area for CPI training.

Have fun poking around my website! It’s under construction and really jank right now(it’s just a bunch of code forked/copy/pasted from the internet and strung together with HTML), so the design might get switched up. Let me know what’s broken so I can fix it.