in print
59
A Peace Apart
"I never said I wanted a “happy” life but an interesting one. From separation and loss, I have learned a lot. I have become strong and resilient, as is the case of almost every human being exposed to life and to the world. We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward." - Isabel Allende
"I never said I wanted a “happy” life but an interesting one. From separation and loss, I have learned a lot. I have become strong and resilient, as is the case of almost every human being exposed to life and to the world. We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward." - Isabel Allende
Push and Pull

I used to think that all churches should become multicultural. I openly criticized the Taiwanese immigrant church I attended, especially our English-speaking congregation, for not being diverse enough.

One Year Later
A Letter to My Parents

Dear Mommy and Deddy, Remember those months as a college senior when I told you about becoming a campus minister? We talked for hours before my graduation about joining staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Confident and Conflicted About Whiteness

I grew up watching white people on TV. White families on popular sitcoms always interested me because of how different they were culturally from my own family culture. I often asked my mom why we couldn’t have casseroles for dinner or why we didn’t go on family vacations.

Finding Resilience in Korean American Christianity
The Intersection of Faith, Research, and Home

I am in Columbia, Missouri, sitting in a beautiful sanctuary with rows upon rows of chairs filled with people. Voices, instruments, and spirits blend together to create the ideal Sunday worship. People are standing, some lifting their hands, while others are silently taking it all in.

Lost in Translation
The Post-Asian American Evangelical Christian

I arrived late for the opening worship of a conference for second-generation (and beyond) Korean American pastors and church leaders. Instead of quietly sneaking into the sanctuary, I found myself hesitating to go in.

Excavating the Trenches of Chinese Memory

My soul was riveted as I read the story of Marie in Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”. Marie was a Chinese Canadian who grew up with an absent father. The reason behind his trek back to China was a mystery — that is, until the unexpected arrival of the daughter of one of her father’s closest confidantes.

The Cost and Luxury of Disinheritance

“Your cousin Smriti told us that we were less like husband and wife and more like best friends when we stayed with her in Delhi,” my mother told me after my parents’ most recent visit to India. “That’s sweet!” I exclaimed, surprised at this sentimentality from my cousin.

A Father’s Suicide, A Family’s Grief

It was a Thursday morning when I heard. I had been getting ready for work. I was looking forward to the weekend because my wife, Ellen, and I were going to a friend’s wedding in Minnesota. We planned to visit my parents while we were in the state. In preparation, I gathered a few things to bring with us, including some enlargements of our wedding photos for my mother and a book for my dad.

Me, Myself, and My Piano

There’s a “mascot” for my music: a nocturnal creature. It is often depicted by a silhouette of a raven. A nocturnal creature is a name I’ve given myself. The mascot not only describes my nature of staying up really late at night, but also describes the focus of most of my songs: loneliness.

Family Scar Tissue

Before the wake began, my cousins and I watched as my mother, her older sister, and her younger brother prayed together as a family. Suddenly, my mom started to pray eloquently in our regional dialect. Something was happening; my mother didn’t generally pray publicly or spontaneously.

Loving the Old and Young Children of God
Reconsidering Transnational Families

“June was already 30 when she immigrated to America. She was married in China and moved here because of her husband. She wasn’t working when she decided to send her son to China, but she wanted to learn English, attend college, and go to nursing school. All that meant she would have homework and need to spend a lot of time studying.

Separation

“Those affected by mass incarceration.” That could be you. That chair you’re sitting on. Where was it made? Those streets you avoid. Those people you’re afraid of. Scared of. Scared of what? And why?

Come One, Come All, Except You

Eddy Zheng is often invited to community organizations or churches to share his redemptive story from prison to re-entry. It is incredible to hear how much Eddy has changed in his lifetime amidst daunting circumstances and the length of time he has had to fight for his freedom. But in certain church settings, after giving his talk, Eddy has been met with distrust, rather than open arms.

Waiting on God in Prison

“Today we are at day 356 of detention. August 29th is his one-year anniversary since he was picked up by ICE,” Montha Chum says of her brother, Chamroeun Phan, who she calls Shorty. “Not much has changed, it’s just the Board of Immigration that has to make a decision.”

Jesus in the Bad Part of Towns

AROUND 2:40 A.M. on September 4, 1977, 17-year old Melvin Yu and two other members of the Joe Boys gang, all heavily armed, stormed the Golden Dragon Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They’d been tipped off about the whereabouts of the leaders of two gangs allied against them, the Wah Ching and the Hop Sing Boys.

Pleading Guilty Because of Jesus

My family arrived in Houston, Texas after fleeing Cambodia and Vietnam in the mid-70s. We had lived in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, but it was difficult to cope with having to begin our lives again in a new land. My father, in particular, had an especially hard time. A former soldier in Lon Nol’s army, he had a violent temper that often meant trouble for my older siblings.

The Enemy Territory Within

During my second year of law school, I got the last spot for a winter clinical course that allowed students to represent a prisoner with a life sentence before the Massachusetts Parole Board. The client I was paired up with for the next three months was supposed to be one of the toughest on our roster — an inmate notorious for his capricious temper, set to face his third parole hearing.

God is at Work

Oh Creator, Redeemer Sovereign Lord and Savior Where are you on this street Where I live Where you live

I used to think that all churches should become multicultural. I openly criticized the Taiwanese immigrant church I attended, especially our English-speaking congregation, for not being diverse enough.

If the good news of Jesus was meant for all, why did our congregation represent only a slice of the diversity that surrounded us? If unity in Christ was a theological priority, shouldn’t we have been more open to communing with people who didn’t look like us? 

Diversity is important. The image in Revelation 7 that appears to John is one where every nation, tribe, people, and language are represented.

But in the context of American Christianity, where white supremacy not only birthed the creation of the American nation-state, but also the Church, multicultural too often means White culture. Congregations may be diverse in physical appearance, but songs, sermons, and cultural expectations too often mirror white dominant culture. People of color are often tokenized on promotional marketing materials and minimized when their voices, perspectives, and leadership threaten the racial and social order.

Multicultural too often means White culture.

Separation, thus, can act as a life-giving force. It gives us a breather from the dominant culture, a respite from a world where we’re always fighting to be seen and heard. We are freer to be ourselves, usually with fewer microaggressions and stereotypes stifling our space. There’s a certain knowingness in being with others who must also daily navigate within and against the dominant culture. 

However, even with good intentions or when necessary, separation carries consequences. Needing to cut off family members or loved ones because of abuse or ideological differences doesn’t make it any less painful.  Sometimes, staying at a church hurts more than leaving it. The prophets called by God to deliver cutting messages of repentance, resilience, and hope were often left unheeded, ignored, and ostracized by society.

And still, separation allows us to highlight and prioritize certain issues at different times. It’s why we’re dedicated to being a platform that raises the voices of Asian and Pacific Islanders, while committed to hearing from and standing in solidarity with other communities of color. It’s why Black Lives Matter is so important, and why we aim to confront both white supremacy and anti-Blackness in our API communities.

Separation allows us to highlight and prioritize certain issues at different times.

Separation, in all its complexities, isn’t the opposite of unity — sometimes it’s exactly what we need to move toward community.

Want this issue in print?
One Year Later
A Letter to My Parents

Dear Mommy and Deddy, Remember those months as a college senior when I told you about becoming a campus minister? We talked for hours before my graduation about joining staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Confident and Conflicted About Whiteness

I grew up watching white people on TV. White families on popular sitcoms always interested me because of how different they were culturally from my own family culture. I often asked my mom why we couldn’t have casseroles for dinner or why we didn’t go on family vacations.

Finding Resilience in Korean American Christianity
The Intersection of Faith, Research, and Home

I am in Columbia, Missouri, sitting in a beautiful sanctuary with rows upon rows of chairs filled with people. Voices, instruments, and spirits blend together to create the ideal Sunday worship. People are standing, some lifting their hands, while others are silently taking it all in.

Lost in Translation
The Post-Asian American Evangelical Christian

I arrived late for the opening worship of a conference for second-generation (and beyond) Korean American pastors and church leaders. Instead of quietly sneaking into the sanctuary, I found myself hesitating to go in.

Excavating the Trenches of Chinese Memory

My soul was riveted as I read the story of Marie in Madeleine Thien’s “Do Not Say We Have Nothing”. Marie was a Chinese Canadian who grew up with an absent father. The reason behind his trek back to China was a mystery — that is, until the unexpected arrival of the daughter of one of her father’s closest confidantes.

The Cost and Luxury of Disinheritance

“Your cousin Smriti told us that we were less like husband and wife and more like best friends when we stayed with her in Delhi,” my mother told me after my parents’ most recent visit to India. “That’s sweet!” I exclaimed, surprised at this sentimentality from my cousin.

A Father’s Suicide, A Family’s Grief

It was a Thursday morning when I heard. I had been getting ready for work. I was looking forward to the weekend because my wife, Ellen, and I were going to a friend’s wedding in Minnesota. We planned to visit my parents while we were in the state. In preparation, I gathered a few things to bring with us, including some enlargements of our wedding photos for my mother and a book for my dad.

Me, Myself, and My Piano

There’s a “mascot” for my music: a nocturnal creature. It is often depicted by a silhouette of a raven. A nocturnal creature is a name I’ve given myself. The mascot not only describes my nature of staying up really late at night, but also describes the focus of most of my songs: loneliness.

Family Scar Tissue

Before the wake began, my cousins and I watched as my mother, her older sister, and her younger brother prayed together as a family. Suddenly, my mom started to pray eloquently in our regional dialect. Something was happening; my mother didn’t generally pray publicly or spontaneously.

Loving the Old and Young Children of God
Reconsidering Transnational Families

“June was already 30 when she immigrated to America. She was married in China and moved here because of her husband. She wasn’t working when she decided to send her son to China, but she wanted to learn English, attend college, and go to nursing school. All that meant she would have homework and need to spend a lot of time studying.

Separation

“Those affected by mass incarceration.” That could be you. That chair you’re sitting on. Where was it made? Those streets you avoid. Those people you’re afraid of. Scared of. Scared of what? And why?

Come One, Come All, Except You

Eddy Zheng is often invited to community organizations or churches to share his redemptive story from prison to re-entry. It is incredible to hear how much Eddy has changed in his lifetime amidst daunting circumstances and the length of time he has had to fight for his freedom. But in certain church settings, after giving his talk, Eddy has been met with distrust, rather than open arms.

Waiting on God in Prison

“Today we are at day 356 of detention. August 29th is his one-year anniversary since he was picked up by ICE,” Montha Chum says of her brother, Chamroeun Phan, who she calls Shorty. “Not much has changed, it’s just the Board of Immigration that has to make a decision.”

Jesus in the Bad Part of Towns

AROUND 2:40 A.M. on September 4, 1977, 17-year old Melvin Yu and two other members of the Joe Boys gang, all heavily armed, stormed the Golden Dragon Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown. They’d been tipped off about the whereabouts of the leaders of two gangs allied against them, the Wah Ching and the Hop Sing Boys.

Pleading Guilty Because of Jesus

My family arrived in Houston, Texas after fleeing Cambodia and Vietnam in the mid-70s. We had lived in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, but it was difficult to cope with having to begin our lives again in a new land. My father, in particular, had an especially hard time. A former soldier in Lon Nol’s army, he had a violent temper that often meant trouble for my older siblings.

The Enemy Territory Within

During my second year of law school, I got the last spot for a winter clinical course that allowed students to represent a prisoner with a life sentence before the Massachusetts Parole Board. The client I was paired up with for the next three months was supposed to be one of the toughest on our roster — an inmate notorious for his capricious temper, set to face his third parole hearing.

God is at Work

Oh Creator, Redeemer Sovereign Lord and Savior Where are you on this street Where I live Where you live