May 18th, 2013
Greg Jao spent formative years of his life in a Chinese immigrant church, now serving as a National Field Director for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in New York City. He brought his ability to weave leadership, humor, and teaching gifts together most recently as the emcee of Urbana12, making even the most mundane and necessary logistical announcements entertaining. He also leads IVCF’s response to campus access challenges, helping chapters around the country navigate maintaining faith-based leadership expectations in often inconsistently pluralistic university contexts. For him, nurturing the next generation of HANA community faith leaders is eating and breathing. Track co-facilitator Armida Belmonte Stephens, Ph.D. candidate, Theology, knows well the challenges and the call to nurture HANA youth who will either abandon or lead growing churches across the nation. A daughter of Mexican immigrants herself, she experienced a variety of church communities before her father entered into pastoral ministry. She recalls with a fond depth the vision her father brought to their church’s worship, welcoming all genres of music and instruments into their church. For Latino communities, their stories are told through song, she shared, and it was through song that Armida’s young faith was formed to grow beautiful, strongly rooted in Christ.
Out of their stories, Greg and Armida invited their track to think creatively, imaginatively, and prophetically about ways to invite and form the youth of HANA churches to love and serve the Lord and his people. Over four days of conversations, they recognized a need for the younger generations to hear the stories of the older generations in order to bridge the disconnection which occurs between the two. They also discussed the question, What does it mean to be a culture of celebration for the next generation, recognizing that youth need to be celebrated more and given more creative outlets for expressions of their forming faith in Jesus Christ. Their track also discussed the role of music and song in story-telling as well as the need to create paradigms for new questions of identity, male-female partnership, and curricula that is relevant to the context of immigrant youth.
Each track will prepare a chapter to be published in a book forthcoming from the HANA Consultation, to be edited by Dr. Peter Cha and Dr. Juan Martínez.
May 18th, 2013
Facilitated by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and Dr. Daniel Carroll Rodas, the Public and Local Witness Track brought their collective knowledge and love for Scripture, ministry experiences, and personal stories to the lively table. They also brought their humor and personalities, creating a sense of family as they discussed difficult topics, such as stereotypes of Latinos and Asian Americans used in the media and perpetuated in work places and the church. They spent three days discussing who their communities are, the theological impetus to work together as visible witnesses, and what some of those partnerships might look like.
Two particular conversations were discussed as participants began bringing conclusions together on day three of the consultation. First, they addressed the too oft false split between evangelism or witness and doing justice. The difficult realities caused by identity crises, workplace discrimination, and immigration policy debate press on HANA communities in a way that predominantly middle and upper middle class white church members rarely if ever experience. To proclaim the good news of abundant life in Jesus Christ without accompanying change that makes gospel-centered abundance possible is for HANA communities a truncated witness. Simple things like the ability to apply for a driver’s license for undocumented Latinos or holding a job in a corporate office without the stereotypical pressure to comply and excel as a “model minority” Asian American make separating evangelism and justice impossible. So, participants brought both of their communities realities to the table as they discussed what it would mean to witness to Christ’s Lordship over not only souls but bodies and systems of power as well.
Additionally, they discussed the difficulty experienced in the states when many conversations around race, ethnicity, and reconciliation in the church center around the poles of black and white Americans. Too often conversations about witness and reconciliation get stuck in conversations about the historical racial brokenness experienced between slave-holding white Americans and enslaved black Americans. While so much work remains to be touched between this two groups in the states, especially in churches, the HANA communities change and expand the categories, poles, and conversations and actions necessary to proclaim Christ together. Yet, within HANA communities, stereotypes of one another make partnership difficult as well. The track discussed how to address these stereotypes within their communities and how to create more spaces for relationships and friendships to be developed.
Look forward to their chapter in the book forthcoming from this consultation for more expanded theological discussion and ideas on how to partner together for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
May 17th, 2013
Migration is an increasingly visible topic within mission conversations today. For example, in August 2012, the International Association of Mission Studies organized their 13th quadriennial assembly around the themes of Migration, Dislocation, and the Good News. Additionally, an increasing number of articles and books shed light on the migration of peoples as relates to rising and influential immigrant church presence in post-Christian contexts. The largest church in London is the Kingsway International Christian Centre, gathering over 12,000 worshippers weekly before relocating in 2006 to make space for the 2012 Olympics. The April 15, 2013 issue Time Magazine published a cover article highlighting the rapidly growing Latino churches that are transforming the face and heart of what American church looks like, worships as, and means to the rest of the world.
Given the reality and visibility of migration—forced most often by economic reasons, genocide and violence, and for family; or voluntarily sought for employment and education—one of the questions being asked at the HANA Consultation this week is, “How is God at work in the movement of us, of Hispanic and Asian American communities, to accomplish his mission of reaching all peoples with the good news of Jesus Christ?” Recognizing Latinos as the fastest growing demographic in the United States, and embracing the news that Asian American churches are growing and multiplying, this question of mission is foremost in the minds of pastors, theologians, and community thought leaders gathered here this week.
In order to explore the layers of experience and response to this question, Rev. Jeannette Yep and Dr. Juan Martínez have convened the Migration and Global Mission Track. Yet, rather than starting with data and statistics about migration and growing immigrant churches, the track began with stories. For each participant in the track, their faith has been significantly shaped through their deeply lived and felt experiences of dislocation, migration, and movement. Describing movement as “a natural part of life,” group members recounted the stories principally of their parents coming to faith through the movement of their families. Whether looking for a cultural community in which to belong after moving to the United States, encountering a new boss who invited them to church, or receiving the Bible and prayer from a stranger met along the pathway of travel, a common theme emerged that each person’s engagement in mission today was instigated by knowledge and memory of the central role migration played in their own coming to Christian faith stories. A further common theme was the place of prayer and evangelistic outreach of others to each participant. Most participants came to Christ through the active evangelism of someone sharing the gospel of Christ. Lastly, established immigrant churches provided support to their families upon arrival in their new country. The care and faithfulness of these immigrant churches folding the families into their communities demonstrated God’s faithfulness and love for them.
Today, each track participant has the great privilege of working with many migrants and their communities across the United States who take seriously the corporate call to respond to God’s care for them by reaching out to others with the gospel. Immigrant Hope is one such initiative that works to equip churches “to provide the hope of the gospel, help on the pathway to citizenship, and home in a church that cares for their needs.” Evangelical Free Church Director of Hispanic Ministries Alejandro Mandes, founder of Immigrant Hope, has also collaborated to develop the EFCA’s Gateway program, providing unique, language-specific theological education for pastors and leaders in urban and ethnic ministries. Gateway provides students the opportunity to be credentialed with the EFCA.
The gospel-centered fruit among the HANA communities is already significant in the landscape of American Christianity. If the current reality is any indication, God is in the business of using Hispanic and Asian Americans to empathize, identify with, care for, and effectively reach and disciple new immigrants in their midst.
Each track will prepare a chapter to be published in a book forthcoming from the HANA Consultation, to be edited by Dr. Peter Cha and Dr. Juan Martínez.
May 16th, 2013
A 1st generation Latino was known in his church for having conflicts with the young people. He never interacted with him with love or patience. But, one day he was invited to participate in an intergenerational activity, designed to creatively engage 1st and 2nd generation Latinos in relationship. Together they walked through their community, taking notes on all they observed and praying together for the people around them. Both generations answered the question, What gifts are people bringing as gifts that will serve and bless one another? Then, they were invited to create a mural expressing what they saw and where they saw the Spirit of God calling them into their community.
During this event, the aging gentleman met Raul. Raul was an excellent artist, bringing his talent fully into the mural project. The gentleman was amazed by Raul’s gift as he expertly helped create beautiful community art. As the day concluded, the man turned to Raul offering an apology, “I never thought I would learn anything from a young person, but I need your forgiveness. Today I saw that the prophet Joel is right! The dreams of the old and the visions of the young can come together, as we prayed and worked together. Today, I learned from you.”
Intergenerational and Intercultural Partnerships Track participants continue to explore these and other stories of partnerships that can develop over long periods under faithful leadership in HANA communities. Together they are learning why and how to bridge the experiences, cultures, realities, and differences of 1st and 2nd generations. Track participants hope to be able to provide a fuller picture of the complexities, realities, and possibilities that can exist to encourage partnership in gospel ministry among generations together.
Each track will prepare a chapter to be published in a book forthcoming from the HANA Consultation, to be edited by Dr. Peter Cha and Dr. Juan Martínez.
May 16th, 2013
Each track is engaging in four hour working sessions throughout the remainder of HANA Day 3. The Developing Lay Leaders track discussed the challenges experienced in developing lay leaders. They noted the following as some of the challenges: personality-driven nature of Latino churches, hierarchy and a lack of willingness to share leadership among pastors, gender, stereotypes of a leader that prevent participation by those who do not fit, family pressures, congregants viewing pastors as “mercenary servants”, immigrant needs, and the conflict between the Gospel message and the American dream. As one member said, “Be a doctor and love God…but not too much.”
May 16th, 2013
Dr. Peter Cha introduced two distinct themes that the HANA consultation will carry through the remaining days together. He invited groups to use this week to discuss the struggles of identity construction that occur in HANA communities. Who are we? Who am I? Within HANA communities, outside groups continually try to define, or impose/ascribe, identities to very heterogeneous groups. As HANA communities struggle against outside definitions, they encounter an internal force of resistance as they each and together seek out identities to assert for themselves. Due to the volatile and confusing nature of the outside/internal tensions, identity remains always in flux, ever fluid, raising more questions than often providing answers. Cha extended the invitation to think pastorally and theologically together about these questions of identity. For future ministry, especially across generations and cultures, fluctuation in identities will bear out significantly in how churches move forward together in responding in faithfulness to God’s calling in their midst.
To that end, Cha introduced the second theme of calling. “What might be God’s purposes in bringing our people group, our families, me to the United States at this time?” In addition to the initial questions of identity and calling, Cha raised the question, “Who are we as a particularly evangelical North American Christian church?” He noted that when “North American church” is discussed in broader national and global conversations, the term too often refers only middle class white Christians and white church. Such narrow understanding of North American church occurs because the stories of HANA community churches have not yet been folded into the stories that are being told and heard. Cha admitted that while the stories of HANA community churches in the United States may be painful stories of birth, struggle, and existence, God’s redemptive purposes might be at work in the pain to continue and complete the work of the gospel in North America.
Both identity and calling are best understood and worked out, even in their fluidity, when rooted in history, however painful or beautiful the stories may be. They must be remembered, and attendees were invited to learn, remember, and reflect together by journeying through aspects of each communities histories.
Latino Protestantism Historical Reflections
The re-telling of European colonization of the Americas, territory seizure, and military intervention are just three of the historical moments wherein Latino presence in the United States is either omitted or reformed to serve a national narrative of European triumph and manifest destiny. For example, Mexicans who lived in the Southwest during the Mexican-American War from 1846-1848 became overnight “foreigners” as the U.S./Mexico border shifted south and west. Even though Mexicans became U.S. citizens in the process, they were treated as second-class foreigners in land they had always inhabited.
Omissions or reductions of stories such as this highlight the challenge of being Latino in the United States. “There is no one story,” Dr. Juan Martínez began, but multiples peoples and powers encounter one another creating mestizaje (mixed origin) stories wherein self and community identities originate in painful encounters and struggles between different groups. He spoke to how these stories have shaped Latinos’ encounter with the Christian faith. The faith was “imposed by military force…through Spanish and Portuguese Catholic missionaries” from which grew official Catholicism and popular Catholicism that retained “indigenous and African religious practices.” Thus, to be Latino meant to also be Catholic, creating a further painful encounter as Latinos become Protestant, most of whom are Pentecostal. Latino Protestants often experience “double marginalization” as they navigate their “born again” Protestant identity alongside contested Latino identities.
Martínez stressed the daily realities of Latino communities that require sustained lament which cannot be rushed or left quickly. He continued by naming mañana as the source of hope that emerges in the midst of the struggle. “Mañana is not about what happens in the next 24 hours,” he said, “but more idiomatically, ‘not today.’” Rather than mañana providing an escapist route for lamenting communities, it cultivates faith communities that “believe in God’s mañana” of hope. In this future, “God brings justice and peace through Jesus Christ” for Latino communities and all of humanity. In God’s mañana, polycentric identities will be gifts to promote service to the God who journeys with Latino communities in between identities.
Asian American Historical Reflections
Dr. Russell Jeung addressed the interplay of racialization and globalization as they inform historical migration and construction of Asian American communities, identities, and callings as manifested in types of church and Christian ministries. Globalization “spurs the flow of capital, labor, and cultures across borders.” It moves people across borders and with them come customs, languages, and memories. Racialization is “the act or process by which individuals, interactions, and institutions are categorized according to racial characteristics.” Racialization in the United States occurs via the function of race constructs that developed in and following the 17th century. Humans were organized and stratified according to “ascribed identities and cultural characteristics” which were attached to biological and physiological appearances. Today, however, it is widely understood that race was and is an ideology used to perpetuate the holding of power and privilege held by a white dominant culture. Race played a central role in “excusing and permitting” European colonization, imperialism, and slavery into the 20th century. Some today would argue that we live in a post-racial society, no longer politically or socially prevented from mixing and mingling with a wide range of ethnicities and cultures as friend groups. However, the ideology of race became so deeply embedded in social policy, in mission theory and practice, and in church developments, that while one may say relationally we can live in a post-racial reality, identities and institutions are still greatly determined by racialized systems that developed over approximately two centuries.
Jeung delineated five different periods of “transnational flows and racial discourses” which have shaped identity construction and calling among Asian American Christian communities since the 1800s. Orientalist Paternalism ran from about 1850-1900 wherein Asian immigrants were treated as foreigners never to belong in the United States. Rather, they were seen as the object of evangelism, with the intent to send Asians back to their countries to witness there. Many Chinese and Japanese immigrants resisted this treatment, and quickly became self-governing through their own Christian organizations. Moving into the 20th century, majority white culture never allowed space for the integration of Asian immigrants into the American narrative. Additionally, Japanese American internment camps further racialized and stigmatized a portion of the Asian American communities when Japanese Americans, 62% of whom were American citizens, were moved into camps following World War II. Leading up to and during this period of history, Transnational Asian Christianity 1901-1945 developed as a vehicle by which Asian immigrant communities who were “segregated from mainstream American society” looked back to their countries of origin to support national movements there. Following this era, Asian Americans were “pressured to behave as ‘model minority,’” a racialized identity setting expectations of high performance and achievement that perpetuates a “don’t make trouble” posture in the midst of dominant culture. This post-war imposed identity created resistance among many Asian American communities. Christians began organizing to create Ethnic Family Churches from 1946-1980 wherein they could minister and live out of constantly in flux bicultural identities. Mainline caucuses and independent evangelical causes began to emerge as the 1965 Immigration Act increased new church developments. English Ministry, particularly reaching 1.5 and 2nd generation youth, also arose during this time. Gradually the homogenizing term “Asian American” became a legitimate category for self-identification within the United States. While it overlooks the vast diversity of Asian American communities, the identity allowed for founding and organizing of churches, especially among second, third, and fourth generations, around this panethnic, i.e., broad-based sweeping, identity. During this period of Asian American Pan-ethnic Churches 1981-2000, Asian American churches began growing and becoming a more visible presence within evangelical American church scene. Today, we witness the development of Asian American-led Multiethnic Churches since 2001. These churches “reflect the diversity of the kingdom of God” by embracing a “color-conscious approach” in order to create a unified church that gathers to address racial discrimination and celebrate cultural differences in order to most effectively reach the cultures around them with the hope of Christ. While well intended under Asian American leadership that understands a calling “to be bridge builders between racial groups,” these churches often remain predominantly Asian American in membership, with non-Asians being involved or serving on the edge of the community rather than being fully folded into the church.
As HANA participants heard the presentations, they were invited to interact in small groups answering the questions: What did you hear? What similarities and differences can you discern in the past narratives of our two church communities? What redemptive moments can you identify in your communities’ past narratives?
Out of the table conversations, themes of new knowledge and understanding of one another’s struggles became clear. Ana Jara commented that she has thought often of the commonalities between the Irish immigrant stories and her Latino community in the United States, “but I never think of Chinese and Japanese as going through the same experience. I need to lament on that absence of history from my own thinking.”
Yet, in the midst of the different histories, there was a deep sense of having shared in the struggle to construct identities and hear God’s calling through and as the church. As one participant noted, “So many of us, when we go to church, there is a need to have ‘our’ church experience, to be able to gather as our people. We have to be ‘out there’ in the midst of someone else’s world all week; please don’t take ‘our church.’ But, it’s not my church, it’s Christ church, and together we must remember this.”
HANA communities also discussed the common points of lament in relation to their constantly challenged and changing identities in a racialized context. Most HANA community members negotiate a polycentric identity, “learning to fit in more than one cultural space, moving between the various cultural, ethnic and social poles that define their lives” (Martinez). Yet, the identifying categories such as “Asian American” and “Latino” lump together a variety of informing poles that do not capture the nuances and diversity present within each community. “As immigration increases and becomes more diverse, points of commonality in the categories decrease” (Jeung).
So, what implications does this conversation have for the church and the ministry of the gospel? One participant offered that as each community remembers their histories, “a balance of thinking about we are both sinned against and sinner within our churches, groups, and cultures needs to inform our laments.” As victims of racialization, discrimination, and historical exclusion from centers of power, members also recognized the hope that brought many to the United States and the inherent privilege that now defines their new lives in the states. But while there is the presence and call to hope, HANA communities recognize in a way that most white middle class North American churches cannot the deep need for lament, and the fullness of God’s comfort, love, and strength to be found and experienced in the act of crying out from the pain of identity confusion. Perhaps part of the call within the HANA communities is to bear witness to the role of suffering and lament in Christian discipleship that recovering forgotten or hidden histories can prompt.
May 16th, 2013
Dr. Jerry Park noted that 25% of Asian Americans are native-born and 59% of Hispanic population. Check out the maps here to interact with the origins of HANA communities.
Hispanic Origins in the USA
Asian American Origins in the USA
May 15th, 2013
What if the Gospels didn’t include Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ death? What if the story of Christ’s life simply did not include his crucifixion and those who wept with him along the way to Golgotha? What if the word suffering was removed from the Gospels and the epistles? What if the Psalms’ laments were omitted? And what if the book of Lamentations was not a part of biblical canon?
A minimum of 16 Gospel passages would be altered. 8 Pauline epistles would be amended. Seven passages in Acts alone would have holes. The books of Hebrews and James would nearly cease to exist. 40% of the Psalms would no longer appear in our text. The story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection would instead only contain one third of the narrative central to the Christian faith.
And we haven’t even touched the Old Testament, save for the obvious in Psalms and Lamentations.
To omit so many significant texts of Scripture would make any evangelical incredibly uncomfortable, and even more indignant. Yet, Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary Dr. Soong-Chan Rah proposes that the language and practice of lament has been eliminated, if it ever existed, from the American church. Effectively, the American church has edited out significant portions of Scripture from informing Christian practice. Rah notes that of Christian Copyright Licensing International’s list of the top 100 worship songs in August 2012, “only five of the songs would even remotely qualify as lament.” Rather, the American church is captivated with stories of success and triumph, content to promote its image as the “saviors of the world” instead of being humbled by the language of lament that “recognizes the struggles of life.”
HANA Consultation participants gathered today to explore this displaced biblical practice of lament, seeking to recover a necessary component of the biblical story along with the lived realities of lament among HANA communities. Historical reflection from Dr. Juan Martínez and Dr. Russell Jeung and theological reflections from Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and Pastor Marcos Canales provided the pillars for a broader discussion framed through the lens of lament which occurred at tables throughout the room. Martinez encouraged participants to “recognize we all, both of our communities, have stories of lament.” Noting Walter Brueggemann’s interaction with Claus Westermann’s themes of the psalms as orientation, disorientation, and new/re-orientation, Martínez led a brief reflection on Psalm 137 to underscore the lived realities of disorienting lament that in part characterize members of HANA communities. He noted that the picture of lament in Psalm 137 is “not pretty,” wherein the psalmist entertains revenge for those who have given him cause to lament, i.e., the oppressor. While HANA communities “cannot make lament our home, we also cannot leave it too quickly. We need to understand the reasons for lament and make sure we remember,” he encouraged.
As participants visited each other’s histories of migration, identity development, and lived realities, Martínez’s final prayer welcomed the Spirit to work in the conversation as he asked the following: “Keep us attentive to the disorientation faced by so many in our communities represented here, in this country, and around our world. Even as we tell stories of lament of history, remind us lament is the daily bread of many around us.”
Reminded at the beginning of the day’s conversation by worship leader Sandra Van Opstal that “the practice of lament begins…when we are wrapped in the arms of God and find belonging in his presence,” the consultation moved forward in a spirit of authentic belonging together throughout the day.
Quotes of the Day
Testimonias always tell us how God showed up, telling and retelling us again, God shows up. Testimonias keep the communal memory bank alive… –Pastor Marcos Canales
We have to live with and inhabit our realities of encounter; we are the children of the oppressed and the oppressor. –Dr. Juan Martinez
We will never forget where we have come from because we have to go back there to serve the community where we live and are called. –Pastor Marcos Canales
Theological education does not equal seminary. Theological education for the whole people of God is much better. Theological schooling is one way to educate. –Dr. Linda Cannell
We may not have institutionalized our compassion ministries, but we are connected to the people because we are the people. We are the missionaries and the mission field at the same time. –Urias Mendoza, Orlanda, CA
May 15th, 2013
Sandra Van Opstal led Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s Urbana09 and Urbana12 worship, developing a unique feast of languages, rhythms, instruments, and voices within her teams so that worship participants taste God’s world in their worship of him. She believes that worshipers experience more of God’s fullness when they not only sample but sit at the banquet of God’s cultures made evident through how one is led into worship in God’s presence. Additionally, she recognizes that worship at this banquet table of God’s many peoples and cultures expressed in song, dance, and instruments can catalyze disciples of Christ for mission to proclaim the fullness of God’s good news—bringing salvation to soul and body, to spiritual darkness and physical poverty.
Relying on both of these dynamic elements in worship leadership, Sandra invited friends from her Chicago community to begin the first night of worship in song. Singing in Spanish, English, Korean, and Mandarin, varying volumes of voices joined together as each adjusted to another language or robustly belted out in confidence from one’s first language. Van Opstal’s prayer, “Let us see a vision of truth and live into that truth” began to come to life as consultation participants glimpsed into the Kingdom of God through song.
The worship feast only grew richer and the call to a vision of trust more robust as we received the Word from Jeannette Yep, Pastor of Global & Regional Outreach at Grace Chapel, Lexington, MA. Preaching from the exhorting text of Philippians 1:27-30, Yep dissected the text to reveal the call to live worthy of both heavenly and earthly citizenship. She called worshipers to set aside inconsistency and hypocrisy, and to express unity and truth for the gospel. Yep powerfully reminded everyone that Christians are not called to fight against anybody or anything but to fight for the faith and for truth. She suggested that the two communities called together for this conference might unite for immigration reform, for just wages, for one another’s communities when theological or political exclusion occurs, and for the faith through “conversations and budding friendships.”
Such expressed unity is developed with steadfastness, and can only be initiated by the Holy Spirit. It comes from God’s doing in our midst, not the result of our effort. It is also a unity born of shared affections for one another, with mutual interest and love for each other’s communities. Additionally, unity as Paul describes takes action, as Yep continued, “Acquiescence is not unity. Consent is not cooperation. Approval is not partnership.” For churches represented at the HANA consultation to grow together and with one another, unity, cooperation, and partnership are needed. Communities must also be unified in the faith, in going out with the faith, and in agreeing what the gospel is. Lastly, Yep, led the gathered community to reflect on the unity in suffering that Paul makes clear is a privilege to do for Christ.
Suffering, Yep continued, occurs in economic dislocation, unjust policy, conflict inside and outside of HANA congregational contexts, prejudice, racism, and brokenness. “By journeying into the pain and brokenness God has called us to be with, we are transformed and we become more and more like Christ, as we suffer with our friends.”
Yep concluded by encouraging attendees to not compare degrees of oppression and suffering, but rather to acknowledge “genuineness, uniqueness, and complexity” of tapestry of stories God has woven together in the two communities. She called everyone to recognize each community’s unique and multifaceted role in God’s Kingdom work. Finally, she charged everyone to keep in step with God’s Spirit as it is doing a new and fresh work in and through immigrant church communities.
Van Opstal’s invitation to worship a multifaceted, creative God prepared hearts and minds to receive Yep’s call to serve this glorious God together as his unique and distinct peoples. Yep’s words called those gathered to count the cost of kingdom citizenship and Christian unity by recognizing the role of suffering together and living worthy for Christ in the midst of brokenness and oppression so that the faith and the faithful may in the end stand firm side by side.
May 14th, 2013
From May 14 to May 17, 2013, approximately sixty pastors and theologians have gathered for the Hispanic-Asian North American Consultation on Theology and Ministry at Trinity International University’s Deerfield campus. Sponsored by the Henry Center, this historic broadly evangelical conversation was organized and designed by Dr. Peter Cha (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Dr. Juan Martínez (Fuller Theological Seminary), Dr. Linda Cannell (former Dean of North Park Theological Seminary), and Armida Belmonte Stephens (Ph.D. Candidate, Systematic Theology) in order to facilitate a conversation between the communities about present and future ministry contexts, experiences, needs, and possibilities. Attendees were encouraged by Peter Cha “to share with the rest of the group, for the whole group and the advancement of God’s purpose in the world. Listen actively, share your insights and convictions with generosity.” Consultation organizers hope that this “family conversation” will allow a fuller and larger picture to emerge for the sake of future gospel ministry in the United States and in global mission.
Dr. Juan Martinez provided four major reasons this consultation is important and necessary, summarized here:
1. God cares. In reading Scripture, God is never in the business of making people or cultures uniform. At Pentecost, a common language was not spoken but different languages were spoken and used. The Spirit of God chooses to manifest the reality of the new thing God is doing by bringing out the languages of the people…especially of the “outsiders.”
2. We live in a country with rapidly changing demographics. By 2040, most people living in the United States will not be northern European descent. Along with these changing demographics, we also need to reframe conversations about race, even as a social construction and not an actual reality. Typically the American narrative keeps the conversation occurring between and about black and white, or black versus white. It never includes Native Americans, Latin Americans or the first Chinese immigrants; these groups are typically excluded. But, Hispanics and Asians are disturbing the race categories, and how they function in our society. The race constructs are so broad that they lose any meaning when imposed or ascribed to Hispanic and Asian communities in the states. As we think about mission in this changing context, Hispanic and Asian children are the future so we need to care.
3. The relationships between Hispanic and Asian-American communities are complex. The communities have had encounters. We’ve mixed, we’ve intermarried. Yet our encounters in the United States have always been complicated, especially in the southwest where Hispanics and Asians tend to encounter one another from different social classes. Stereotypes exist on either side of our relationships, including between Christians, and we need to address this complexity.
4. God works in the midst of migration. When there are movements of people, more openness to God’s care for all people increases. Will we read God in the migration of our peoples to North America? Is God in the midst of this migratory movement, if the answer is yes, what does that mean?
In order to better facilitate more specific conversations to address these reasons for gathering, attendees have chosen to participate in one of six tracks: 1) Formation of lay leadership 2) Intergenerational/Intercultural Partnership 3) Migration and Global Mission 4) Nurturing the Next Generation 5) Public and Local Witness 6) Theological Education/Pastoral formation. In each track, attendees are guided in sharing their stories, answering questions concerning each topic together, and will conclude with an intensive working session moving toward deeper collaboration between the communities. Highlights from a track each day will be posted on the blog, so stay tuned…
Attendees’ initial responses to the conversations that are already emerging demonstrate both the need for and the hope in expanding networks, collaborations, and friendships through the HANA Consultation. One pastor Beck Rodriguez from Arkansas said, “I’ve never sat down and heard a Korean-American’s story. Within a few hours this is already eye-opening.”
Quotes of the Day:
The Spirit of God chooses to manifest the reality of the new thing God is doing by bringing out the languages of the people…especially the “outsiders.” – Dr. Juan Martinez
Let us see a vision of truth and live into that truth. –Sandra Van Opstal
Will we read God in the migration of our peoples to North America? Is God in the midst of this migratory movement, and if the answer is yes, what does that mean? – Dr. Juan Martinez
Ni de aquí ni de allá, and that is a wound which is scabbed over but will never be healed. –Alejandro Mandes