It’s difficult not to think about the impact Tim Keller’s ministry has had on Asian-American Christians when we consider his legacy. Many have remarked over the years that Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church is the largest unintentional Asian-American church in the US–unintentional because he never set out to specifically reach Asian Americans and Asian-American because a significant percentage of his congregants are of Asian-American heritage. But perhaps more than the congregants, his intentional training, hiring, and platforming of Asian-American leaders, many of whom were Korean American, was remarkable given that the powerbrokers of Manhattan aren’t usually ethnic minorities.
The broader Asian-American Christian community is indebted to Keller for his forward-thinking leadership because it contributed to the normalization of Asian Americans as capable leaders in North American Christian spaces. It’s hard to imagine that current and former leaders of The Lausanne Movement, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), The Gospel Coalition, Westminster Seminary California, the National Association of Evangelicals, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and others would be Asian American without Keller’s example and endorsements. Perhaps not so coincidentally, in this way he followed in the footsteps of his mentor, Harvie Conn, a former missionary who also raised up a generation of church leaders in South Korea.
On a more personal level, I was first introduced to Keller during college when his New York Times Best Seller, The Reason for God, came out. He was one of the main reasons why I decided to enroll at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where he was once a student and also taught as a professor prior to planting Redeemer. But something’s changed in me since those early years of admiring Keller. Back then, I used to want to preach like Keller, think like Keller, and be as successful as Keller. However, in the almost fifteen years since I was first introduced to him, these days I just want to be as kind and winsome as Keller. This is perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from reading his books, listening to his sermons, and observing him from afar.
Rest in peace, Tim Keller. I join millions of others who are grieving your passing and celebrating all the good the Lord did through you.
Moses Y. Lee is the pastor of Rosebrook Presbyterian Church in Rockville, Maryland.
하나님이 세상을 이처럼 사랑하사 독생자를 주셨으니 이는 저를 믿는 자마다 멸망치 않고 영생을 얻게 하려 하심이니라 (요 3:16).
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)