Loving God, Loving People

Derek Yee

I was born in Los Angeles and raised in Alhambra. My parents, Bill and Lisa, took me to Sunday School from a young age. I first confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of six. However, there were many things about church that I did not understand. When I was a child, I naturally followed my parents to church but as a teenager, there were times when I did not feel like going. Despite my poor attitude, the Lord continued to be present and faithful in my life.

Before attending U.C. Berkeley, I spent one semester at Santa Barbara City College in Fall 2004. At that time, my grandparents Lewis and Deana Abe were occasionally attending Bethany, and they introduced me to the church. The congregation warmly welcomed me. After I started at Berkeley, I became more involved in church. In college, I felt that my faith in God became my own and not something that I simply followed because my parents did. God drew me closer to Himself. I was active at church, in our college group and young adult choir. I was baptized on Easter Sunday, 2007 at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley.

After graduating college, I moved to Carpinteria to work at Abe Nursery. I naturally returned to Bethany and would also sometimes bring my grandparents to church. Many in the church encouraged me to become more involved. I served as a youth leader, and Tom Fukumura “recruited” me to the Stewardship Committee. I also began to attend Nichigo services and became involved with their youth activities. I was nominated to the Board of Elders. During this time, I felt the Lord’s call to serve in Ishinomaki, Japan. I went on a two-week trip to help with the tsunami relief efforts in 2012. In the following years, I spent more time in Ishinomaki, including a week with a team from Bethany in 2014 and three months in 2015. Through these experiences, the Lord gave me a heart to serve and minister to the Japanese people. He has given me opportunities to do that here in Santa Barbara with our Nichigo ministry.

Pastor Anthony, Bethany’s former Senior Pastor, has encouraged me in many ways throughout my time here at Bethany, even encouraging me to speak in Sunday services. In the past couple of years, I began to sense the Lord’s leading toward a vocation in ministry. Through Pastor Anthony’s continual encouragement and the support of others, the Lord has been whispering His call. I recently applied to Fuller Seminary, and will be pursuing a Master of Divinity starting in September. While this will be a big transition for me, I have felt the Lord’s confirmation and peace throughout this process. Last week, I received a scholarship from Fuller that will cover 75% of my tuition while I study there. Praise the Lord!

It has been a privilege and blessing for me to be a member of Bethany and serve in various capacities here. May all the praise and glory be His!

A bit more about my immediate family- I have a younger brother, Colin, who is working at KABC radio station in Los Angeles. As many of you probably know, I enjoy cooking. In past years I have offered a sushi class here at the church. I also enjoy running in my free time. You may see me around Carpinteria or along Cabrillo/Shoreline here in Santa Barbara. I also enjoy collecting coins. My dad introduced me to coin collecting at the age of five. One of my collecting achievements is a complete set of Walking Liberty half dollars. I also enjoy languages. I stumble through Japanese, and often use Spanish while working at the nursery. Lately, I have spent any time away from “home” in Japan. I enjoy many aspects of Japan, especially the culture, the history, beautiful gardens, and of course, the food! Other memorable trips are from my childhood. My grandparents took our whole family to Mount Rushmore, New Orleans, and on cruises to Mexico and Alaska.