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Tony Kim loves to go to Comic Con. This is his 5th time going, to celebrate all things nerdy. He made this audition reel for an epic documentary film that’s in the works about Comic Con, being done by the same guy that did the Super Size Me movie.
Tony mentioned that one of the many reasons he auditioned was because: “… hardly any Asians auditioning and I hope to represent”. Thanks for stepping up, Tony!
What is the connection between releasing your new EP thefirst and your family’s commitment to fight human trafficking in Mexico City?
This EP is my first-ever studio project and I am still baffled and dumbfounded that it is complete, in print, on sale and in the hands of people who love it. It has been a dream come true and the way it happened was so sudden and unexpected, I can once again say that it’s because of God’s goodness this came about. It’s nothing short of a miracle.
As the worship leader at Newsong Church in Irvine, California, DK has been living out a personal dream. And yet, on June 15th, DK, his wife Sadie and their young son Micah will be moving to Mexico City for two years, “to do our part in the abolition movement while working with and raising up a generation of indigenous artist/activists in the city to lead the charge… until we see the end of slavery.”
In our NG.AC community, we want to highlight stories of people courageously answering God’s call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. As you can see from DK’s story, which we will share in two parts, this awakening to the intimate connection between worship and justice is both beautiful and challenging.
How would you describe the connection between worship and justice in your life? What have been some pivotal moments in shaping your understanding of worship and justice?
Photo by Scott Hodge at The Idea Camp in Irvine, California
I’ve been a worship leader since I was 15 years old, but it wasn’t until recently, in 2007, that I began to feel discontent in the way that I viewed and experienced worship. So much of our worship can become self-focused and self-indulgent if we forget about the call beyond the mere words of any song. I began to discover the synonymy of worship & justice in a few key passages of Scripture.
Isaiah 58 is a huge one for me: the challenge to consider what true fasting is made me think about what true worship is. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the chords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
I began to see that my worship was just ritual if I didn’t take it outside of a fifteen-minute set list. I wanted desperately to do something about this unfolding realization but didn’t know where to start. All I could do was pray.
An effort to define beauty will ultimately fail, but we can speak of beauty, and point to the source of beauty.
In order to prevent any more cobwebs from appearing on this beloved site, I’d like to share a wonderful interview with Makoto Fujimura, a Japanese American painter where he talks about his views on faith, how art reflects the mystery of faith, and the Eastern nature of Christianity.
East/West distinction is also a categorization that is very difficult to define. The Bible is an “Eastern” book. The Bible is much more culturally “Eastern” than “Western,” if by “Western” we mean post-Enlightenment rationalism. Certainly, the Old Testament Hebrew culture was far more eastern than what we consider to be western. The Last Supper makes more sense in a Japanese context (that eating and drinking wine can bond a community together) than American. Early theologians like Augustine and Origen were influenced by African and Egyptian culture, which is more East than West, and certainly medieval art and theology has much to do with Eastern influence, while “Western” theology grew out of them. I know what you are asking pertains to our fascination with Japanimation, Eastern New Age mysticism, etc., but I would be careful not to fall into unhelpful distinctions.
Earlier this week, I saw the film Call+Response with members of our church community.
Call+Response is a musical documentary about modern-day slavery and human trafficking featuring artists such as Cold War Kids, Talib Kweli and Moby alongside notable figures such as Cornel West, Madeleine Albright and Ashley Judd. [I've posted some personal reflections over on my blog, in case you're interested]
The statistics on slavery and human trafficking are unnerving. 27 million people enslaved. $32 billion a year made on their suffering (more than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined). And it’s not just a problem out there somewhere; thousands of people are trafficked every year right here in the States.
However, something in the film struck a particularly raw nerve for me, as an Asian American follower of Christ. Those depraved individuals who profit from the suffering and degradation of people are extremely resourceful, in their sick way. They adapt the techniques they use to ensnare others, depending on the area in which they operate. For example, in East Asia, they will often prey on the eldest daughters of impoverished families by convincing them they have no other way to support and honor their parents but by selling themselves into slavery.
Others will accuse the victims of rape and sexual slavery of being unclean and shameful to their families, so that they will have no real alternative but to remain captives. Filial piety, honor, shame, obligation — these are hard enough for us to navigate without predators twisting them for their own ends.
Everything inside of us needs to cry out against this sickness and insanity.
This is not about “compromising” the Gospel by promoting “good works.” If we believe what we say we believe — that God is good; that people (all people) are created in His image with dignity, beauty and worth; that we believe in a Kingdom that is right and true and good, because that’s the heart of our King — then we must be compelled to action. In fact, I would argue that mission and justice, for followers of Christ, are inseparable. We must not allow that false dichotomy to lull us into sleepwalking through life, thinking we’re doing God’s “eternal” work while, really, we’re kind of just sitting around.
I apologize in advance for the rantiness of this post; if anything, I feel this conviction most strongly for myself. Instead of feeling overwhelmed when confronted with these atrocities and, eventually, pushed back into apathy, I want to care about the people about whom God cares deeply. I know my heart is moved, and now?
Call+Response lists 33 ways you can respond today. Organizations such as JustOne and Justice Ventures International are a couple of grassroots non-profits working to promote justice worldwide and are well worth your support. Even the simple of act of telling a friend that slavery still exists today can be the beginning of positive change.
Steve Hayner showed our class this video the other day. I found it to be a beautiful sight seeing person after person display succinctly and compellingly how Christ has impacted their lives. That is the gospel proclaimed, not just by one person, but by the living cloud of witnesses.