As a nation and as a church, over the past few years, we have had to deal with the sin of racism in ways that we have never had to before. Racism has been thrust front and center in our minds starting from the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville…to the killings of Ahmaud Arberry, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, among others.
COVID-19 brought racism much closer to home for many of us with racism directed towards Asian-Americans. Over 3,800 acts of aggression have been reported by Asian-Americans since March 2020. This has been exacerbated by anti-Asian rhetoric that has been both hurtful and harmful, by leaders at the highest levels of government.
Then last week, the murders of 8 people, including 6 Asian-Americans in Atlanta brought the racism that much closer to us. We have seen the names in the newspaper but I want to read their names aloud, as best I can, in their native language. When you hear their names the way that their parents intended their names to be heard, there is a powerful, humanizing effect that helps us to see these people in light of their ethnic identity.
Soon Chung Park 박순정, age 74
Hyun Jung Grant [김]현정, age 51
Sun Cha Kim 김순자 , age 69
Yong Ae Yue 유영애, age 63
Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33
Paul Andre Michels, age 54
Xiaojie Tan 谭小洁, age 49
Daoyou Feng 冯道友, age 44
When I heard the news, I was in shock for a while. This one was so hard to process. I’m sure that we all faced many emotions: some were numb. Some were angry. Some were grieved. Some were heartbroken. Some were scared. Needless to say, for many of us, it was too much to process because of the intersection of race, gender, religion, and sexuality.
But all of us felt something. We need space to share those feelings, to grieve and lament. We need places where we can share our voices and to know that our voices matter. Last week at our prayer meeting we spent time in prayer and this week at our prayer meeting we will continue to process our feelings. We need to know that our voice matters.
I say this explicitly and It is important that I do, because when we hear authoritatively from the sheriff in charge of the investigation, that this was NOT race-related when it so clearly was, we as Asian-Americans felt the way we have often felt here in America:
We felt marginalized
Like our voices don’t matter
Like we don’t matter
We’re told that we’re just being sensitive.
Those are lies, as is the narrative that this shooting had nothing to do with racism. There are people in our world who want us to believe that narrative. They want us to feel like we are making a big deal out of nothing. But we need to know that there are countless others who stand with us, who don’t need us to prove that something is racist when we all clearly feel its harmful effects.
The voices that stand with us remind us that we are not alone. You are not alone. Our voices matter. Our voices are being heard. Because of that, change is possible. Change is coming. Most of all, God sees and He cares.
I want to read the words of a statement that SOLA has put out. SOLA is an organization that I serve that seeks to be a Gospel voice for emerging generations of Asian-Americans. Here’s an excerpt from their statement:
“We grieve and mourn over the loss of life — that human life, as god's crown jewel of creation, could be taken away so brutally and recklessly.
We grieve over the growing anti-Asian sentiment in our country….
We grieve over how media coverage and official reports minimized and marginalized the concerns and voices of the Asian American community during the investigation.
We grieve over the fears, frustrations, and perpetual foreigner struggles that Asian Americans wrestle through that prevent them from flourishing.
We grieve for the multiple threads of sin that have been exposed this week, including racism and misogyny. Their entanglement has shown how deep and intertwined the roots of sin are in our society.
We grieve over the fact that someone was raised and discipled in churches, only to come to the wrong conclusion that these women were at fault for his personal temptations.
We grieve over the fact that Christianity, the bible's teachings, and pursuit of holiness were grossly misappropriated to justify and explain this crime — especially in front of a watching world of unbelievers.
We grieve that this man's wrestling with sexual sin did not result in genuine repentance and "fighting until the point of bloodshed" internally, but rather choosing to see women as objects of blame and shedding their blood.
We hope that churches this Sunday and beyond would be spaces where Asian American Christians can express lament, rage, and grief. We hope all Christians would support anti-hate campaigns, provide financial support to those in need, and raise gospel awareness to fight misogyny, racism, addiction, and other societal sins. We hope all people who are hurting would seek counseling, with churches standing with them for support.
Finally, we call upon Christians and churches to pray. Pray that churches would tirelessly work for the gospel, knowing that only the gospel can ultimately heal, forgive, and redeem. Pray for those who weep and mourn. Pray for justice to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Pray that Christians would speak up for the marginalized. Pray that churches would be prophetic voices calling for change, justice, reconciliation, and peace.
O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
Incline your ear to my cry! (Psalm 88:1-2)”
Harvester, please know that you are seen, known, and loved. Our Savior understands the pain of being rejected and today he weeps with us. He will come again to wipe every tear from our eyes. Until then, let’s work for a better day, that heaven would come here on earth, as we make the invisible Kingdom visible, wherever we may be.