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Conversation with JJL1689

JJL1689: do you think your perspective has changed a lot since going to canaan (church that I serve at)?

exportjoy: i've become much more informed since going to canaan. what about you? has your perspective changed since going to ACCCN (church that she serves at)?

JJL1689: mm, not really…i think the past few months have been more about being reminded of the chinese-american church and asian-american church esp after having been at wecc (west end community church in nashville, TN she attended during college) for 3.5 years

exportjoy: what have you been reminded of most?

JJL1689: lately i've been comparing to my church at home, though which isn't really about the chinese-american church

exportjoy: well you may not agree with me when i say the asian american church is dying, huh?

JJL1689: yeah, i'm not sure about that. i think it'll die if we let it or if we kill it, if we don't step up and start living change that God calls us to

exportjoy: i think we are letting it, we just may not be aware of it. do you think that there is something distinct about asian american churches as opposed to other churches?

JJL1689: oh yeah, i think there are things that make us distinct, we just don't do anything about it

exportjoy: such as?

JJL1689: first of all, if it weren't for the asian american church, i might not be where i am today. i probably wouldn't be. but still, if there was no chinese church, my parents would not have been in the church and i wouldn't either. there was always something different about going to a chinese church whether i was ashamed of that at some points, whether i wanted to be part of a "white" church, whether i felt better, bitter,..whatever. and in many ways… a part of me was unspokenly understood at church..whether i talked about it or not (talking about it and addressing these issues is something i see as a role of the asian-maerican church…something we're not doing…) because the church should be a place where we figure out what it means to be an asian-american christian, a korean-american christian, a chinese-american christian, etc.

exportjoy: i agree with you about honoring our roots, but i think the interesting facet to add to that is the generational issue. what generation chinese are you?

JJL1689: 2nd. well not just honoring, but it's a part of us that we don't really understand and i think msot of 2nd generations and beyond have no idea why they feel certain ways and why they react in certain ways. we usually just end up pushing it away or getting bitter or just trying to ignore the obvious and that eats away

exportjoy: will we ever understand it then?

JJL1689: we can understand it through world's eyes or we can wrestle with it in light of who we are as God's children. that's where i think the churhc needs to come in

exportjoy: even though it won't look like how our parents' church looks?

JJL1689: no we will not look like our parents' church, but we need to see it and understand that, too. particularly because we see a 1st generation congregation and english in asian-american churches, too often english congregations see the other congregation as old, out-dated, out of touch, etc. but we were birthed from them in a sense and unless we see that, we're missing something

exportjoy: what would some of those somethings be, do you think?

JJL1689: for korean people – the way your 1st generation prays and worships; for chinese people – the way they worship, too, their dedication, how discipline is so tied with loving God, yeah sometimes it crosses as legalism, but still, there's something to be said about discipline that we dont' understand i think. stuff like that

exportjoy: yes, good things to learn

JJL1689: most of the time, we just see combined services as things we need to get through..boring and out of touch instead not a cross-cultural experience that should hit closer to home that we need to learn from..and claim His presence in. we can go to missions overseas and be so open to another culture, but miss all that is rich within our own church

exportjoy: well, there are quite a few barriers to it, more than the usual church — generational, cultural, often linguistic

JJL1689: true, but aren't those in another cross-cultural setting as well?

exportjoy: well, i would say those barriers are compounded in an asian american church

JJL1689: yeah, that's true, but on the flip side, seomtimes we get so excited about missions in another country (which is incredible and definately a command), but miss that some of what we learn is right there in our own church…and that is pretty awesome

exportjoy: i mean, it's not just a cultural difference, it's a postmodern vs. modern, western vs. eastern, consumer-oriented vs. longevity-oriented, immigrant vs. resident, etc. etc. most church's population isn't that varied within a single generation. well, i would say that our own culture is often a mystery to ourselves even. we have few examples where our cultural faith has been bestowed and mentored to us

JJL1689: i think that we can say that about any culture, though…or person, even. does anyone really know himself/herself? even if he/she thinks so? who are we? who we think we are? who other peopel think we are? or when will we finally know that we are who God says we are

exportjoy: well, especially in our generation. postmodernity renders tradition obsolete. we may not think that overtly but practically speaking, we live like that stuff doesn't matter

JJL1689: oh true…but going back to missions…don't missionaries face that as well? and yeah, it's compounded in the asian-american church..and it may be overwhelming because a lot of our generation didnt' have the "choice" to be in it…but on the other hand, what a calling!

exportjoy: well that's the irony, nowadays, i would say that the biggest change to church is that our generation has become the mission field. there has been little discipleship, equipping or vision casting to even our own generation

JJL1689: true, because it's been about a generation that came here..started this church and yeah, maybe had no idea what was going to happen… then all of a sudden, there is this english congregation

exportjoy: yes, a complete afterthought

JJL1689: yeah.. and so finally when we are graced enough to see this. we must be the change we wnat to see, like Gandhi said

exportjoy: yes, but perhaps it's the same reason why we feel such urgency about this. i really feel like our entire generation and the next is at stake

JJL1689: ooh yeah, me too. it's about time our church starts stepping up!


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

2 responses to “Conversation with JJL1689

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