We’re in a series that shares the thinking behind the 7 challenges that inform our mission.  We have been discussing challenge 2: the perceived irrelevance, and today, we will address how we’re sometimes thought so by Asian American ministry alumni.

 

Asian American ministries are sometimes perceived to be irrelevant
Asian American ministries are still relevant

We need to remember past blessings

What we propose


Asian American ministries are sometimes perceived to be irrelevant
Sometimes we hear the following from Asian American ministry alumni:

I’ve heard nothing new.
Been there, done that.
This was helpful to me in college, but it doesn’t seem to apply to my life now.

Some Asian American Christians feel like they keep hearing the same emphases from Asian American ministries: shame, ethnicity identity, racism.  Asian Americans who are addressed tend to be second generation from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea who grew up feeling quite marginalized in United States, and have difficult relationships with their parents.  Most popular Asian American Christian titles too focus on East Asian America and were published in the mid 1990s to early 2000s.  These titles are still being referenced and promoted at conferences today.

Asian American ministries often is perceived as “just a college thing” because of powerhouse ministries like AACF (Asian American Christian Fellowship), InterVarsity’s Asian American ministries, and Cru’s Epic Movement.  “I was at a time in my life when I was really trying to find myself, and Asian American ministries was really helpful to me then.  But I’m no longer in that phase now.”

Asian American ministries are still relevant!

  • All cultures still need to be redeemed in Christ!
    AsianAmericanChristian.org believes Asian American ministries is about what it means to be Asian, American and Christian in Christ.   Since the Kingdom has not yet come, all cultures still need to be redeemed for Christ,  including Asian, American and Christian subcultures.  While being bi- or multi-cultural can be confusing, it ultimately is a gift from God; we literally embody the reconciliation of cultures and worlds.   It is also a tremendous gift along the way to ourselves and the whole church.  Seeing different worlds helps us see what is Asian, what is American and what is truly Christian—so that God can burn out the dross that is in all cultures, and polish the good that is made in His image.  We can thus be all the more fully God’s, fully Christ’s.

  • While dated, materials still are relevant to many Asian American Christians!
    While popular Asian American Christian materials were written for a specific context 10-25 years ago, these materials still are relevant to many Asian American Christians! For example, the topic of parental relationships was an important one for some of these popular Asian American Christian books.   Though some more recent immigrants from a more prosperous Asia may get along better with their children, some parent-child relationships may still be difficult .  It also does not mean that current second+ generation parents are not struggling with how to raise their children in a Christ-like way, in ways that may not have been modeled to them before. Another example, while it may not be expedient for all Asian Americans to point out racism (see emerging generations post), this also doesn’t mean systems of racial preference and economic marginalization are no longer in play in the worlds around us.  Asian American ministries’ focus has also been historically on East Asians—but it also encompasses South Asians and Southeast Asians who can experience marginalized dynamics in a more pronounced way.  We need to be aware of  our brothers and sisters in Christ, and when the Spirit convicts us, stand in solidarity with them as Christ did for us.  Parent/child relationships and racism, because of American, Christian and Asian taboos (see Challenge 6) are immensely difficult to sometimes see and broach though they both have a tremendous effect on our lives.  And they can be tremendously difficult to overcome.  Please continue to extend grace with our brothers and sisters.

  • Asian American ministries encompasses much more than we previously thought.
    While our exposure to Asian American ministry is mostly from student ministries,  many churches and non-student parachurch organizations consider themselves under this umbrella as well.  Many academics also specialize in Asian American ministries. It is difficult to hear about other Asian American ministries because we barely overlap (challenge 3)  and rarely have opportunity to share and collaborate our ministries (challenge 5).  AsianAmericanChristian.org would like to change that.

  • Asian American ministries is needed for every phase of life
    Obviously, we do not emerge from college fully-formed and perfect in Christ.  Spiritual formation and growth are lifelong processes, and as we enter different settings and phases in life—as we work and get married and have children and take care of our elderly parents and retire— these contexts have different corresponding expectations and rules, that are affected by our Asian, American and Christian cultural world views.  These too need to be given to Christ, to be redeemed by Christ.

  • We already intuit and think through what it means to be Asian, American and Christian—but not necessarily as a church. We intuit what it means to be Asian every time someone says, “Hey, that’s so Asian.” We think through what it means to be American when we visit Asia.  We think through what it means to be Christian when we’re shocked by the appalling behavior of another Christian.

We need to remember past blessings

God uses our past as a foundation to grow us in Christ.  If Asian American ministries has blessed you, this foundation has helped you grow more in and towards Christ.  When resources allow, we’d love to hear how you were particularly blessed and impacted.  For the time being, we hope you’ll treasure these blessings, and allow Christ to grow them deeper in your heart.

Please help us treasure and grow our ministries.   Saying or implying that our ministries are currently irrelevant to you, inadvertently hurts all Asian American Christians.  It makes it harder to recruit workers and it makes it exponentially much more difficult to fundraise.   We’re thus not able to encourage as many into the harvest fields and into research areas to updated, broaden and deepen our curriculum and resources.

We very much want to cultivate resources beyond university students; we want to help Asian American Christians with every stage of their lives.

We want to think about us all, including Southeast Asians, South Asians, mixed race Christians, adoptees, and the first generation.

We want to think about future Asian American Christian generations.

What we propose

AsianAmericanChristian.org wants to broaden and deepen our thoughts about what it means to be Asian, American and Christian.

We want to take a step back.

Because our dynamics are constantly changing, we want to focus on one main question:  What is God doing in us?

Asian American Christian issues can be subconscious, complicated, painful and awkward, and it is easy to be overly discouraged.  Being focused on God from the outset will not only keep us Christ-centered, but it will help us move forward together.

We want to take these answers: the stories, the surveys, the interviews and from there, try to understand our various reference points and from there, understand the patterns.

From there, we’ll share preexisting resources and ministries with people who need them (challenge 4) and champion the creation of new resources to expand the depth and breadth of our ministries (challenge 3 and 5)  for the sake of his Kingdom.

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Many perceive Asian American ministries as irrelevant.

ethnic churchesmultiethnic churchesAsian American churchesemerging generationsseminary-trained Evangelicals – Asian American ministry alumni

We’re in a series sharing the thinking behind the 7 challenges that inform our mission. Our mission is to ask what God is doing in us, to hear and gather all Asian American Christian voices and to build inroads necessary for understanding, reconciliation and fellowship.

AsianAmericanChristian.org is a proposal for a new ministry that offers a framework and a way forward. If you’re wondering where these ideas are coming from, read this. If you’re interested and would perhaps like to join our feedback sessions this Fall, join our mailing list.

 

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