Sunday, March 12, 2006
old friends, AACF, & the community
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:10-12
There was a mini-reunion of sorts for UW AACF last night... it's the 30 year anniversary of the group. I saw lots of old faces, some of friends I haven't seen in awhile - it's still hard to believe that it's been six years since the above picture was taken, but my memories of that 2000-2001 year are still fresh in my mind. It was a time of great friendships, and even in middle of all the changes inherent in university life, there was still that strong feeling of community. The experience energized and re-shaped my understanding of my faith.
In thinking of AACF, my thoughts always turn toward the Asian American Christian community in Seattle, and the larger Asian American community itself. My feelings are ones of sadness, tinged maybe with a glimmer of hope, because I really feel that the situation has in many ways stagnated (or even deteriorated) from what it once was - most young Asian Americans remain a largely un-ministered to group, the connection between Asian American churches has gone brittle or is dying off (such as the death of CoHi), and many students who became rooted in the faith in junior high and high school become lost in the shuffle to college.
In my time at UW AACF, we were blessed to with a group averaging about 30+ people a meeting with about 20 of those people being dedicated members, and we had 3 dedicated staff workers. Now UW AACF has shrank to 6-8 people and zero staff. What a difference that six years makes...
Ironically, I find my reflections on all these things to be the same as the ones I made last year.
I believe that God has placed a burden on my heart for the Asian American community that some people understand, but even fewer people share. In dreams that I rarely speak of or mention, I envision an Asian American Christian community that supports and motivates the larger Asian American community toward being agents of social justice and profound change. I envision an Asian American Christian community that shatters the mental oppression that a white-centric culture has imposed both on Christianity and the entire American society. I envision an Asian American Christian community that builds bridges between not just Asian ethnic groups, but between every ethnic group in the US.
Yes, I know it all sounds crazy, but my line of reasoning is this: the great Civil Rights movements of the 1960s first began in the church. The fiery and impassioned speeches of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X stemmed directly from the Gospel traditions of the African American church. The power of the Civil Rights movments of the 1960s was rooted in spiritual power, a spiritual power that didn't exist as some sort of esoteric force, but as a tangible mode of behavior. People loved and cared for each other, and they had the courage to struggle against injustice, even at great personal cost. The great mistake that modern progressives make is in secularizing the past, in trying to divorce spirituality (oh no, religion!) from the personalities of great leaders like MLK and Malcolm X... as if their beliefs in God had nothing at all to do with the revolutionary mindsets they had. A modern progressive movement that seeks to complete the unfinished work of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s needs to recognize and correct that error.
However, I digress. I know times have been tough not just me or AACF, but for a lot folks in our community. Still, I want to believe that God intends something better in the future...
UW AACF Trivia (courtesy of Evan)
1. UW AACF was founded in 1976 by Gordon Nagayama Hall.
2. The inspiration for its founding was the annual retreat called CoHi, a student-led event by Asian American Christians in the Seattle area which began in 1974.
3. AACF itself was founded nationally by JEMS (Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society) in 1972. The first campus branch of the group to use the name "AACF" was Cal State Long Beach.
4. The founding members of UW AACF represented five churches:
-Blaine Memorial United Methodist
-St. Peter's Episcopal
GRATEFUL TODAY FOR: friends, memories, Korean vegetarian gyoza from Uwajimaya.
***EDIT*** This entry has been quoted on Rice Bowl Journals... wow!
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