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Once in a while David Park and I (DJ Chuang) meet in person and chat about all kinds of things related to life and faith. Back in October 2010, I think it was, we recorded this conversation and our little pocket camera worked. (Yes, we can recall times when we had technology fail, too.) In this 20-minute video, we share about how this team blog came into being, what topics have been particularly painful and challenging, and our dreams and hope for the future of churches that are contextualized to better serve Asian Americans and all peoples.
And, below is a web statistic chart of the most popular pages here during the past month. What do you notice about what’s popular? What surprises you?
There’s nothing quite like hearing the entire crowd at MSG shout, “Ooooh!” in unison when Jeremy Lin breaks the ankle of an opposing defender with his quick-strike crossover. Seriously, I can understand why — despite their long run of frustration (and, believe me, as a longsuffering Lions fan, I know frustration) — players want to play for the Knickerbockers.
Watching Jeremy Lin light up the crowd, hearing them chant his name (along with M-V-P), listening to Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s announcing gymnastics about him — it all lends itself to a sense of big-brotherly pride. Well, for someone my age, it’s more like an uncle or cheering on a former youth group student, but you get what I’m saying.
As we start a new season here at Next GenerAsian Church, our team of contributors have reconnected and been reinvigorated to continue this team blog as a place for stories and conversations about faith and culture. Even though this blog had been dormant for quite some time, its appearance in the Top 200 Church Blogs list signaled significant interest in this blog’s topics.
To launch this new season, we’ll have a round of introductions from each of the contributors. By sharing our back stories, we hope this humanizes and personalizes our voices as we drill-down into issues regarding faith and culture.
Most of us Asian Americans have been asked the question, “Where are you from?” And that’s sometimes followed by “Where are you really from?” when wanting to find out someone’s ethnic identity. This can be annoying or offensive for some.
Let’s re-frame that question. I’ll share where I’m from, and where I’m coming from.
My name is DJ Chuang and I’m from Orange County, California. Moved here 4 years ago from metro Washington DC. I came to America when I was 8 years old; my family immigrated from Taiwan; I’m the oldest of 3 boys. My parents are Chinese, so our family was fairly traditional and not religious. Our family ran a motel business in a humble small Virginia town. Life was practical, routine and mundane, and I thought that’s all there was to life: you go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, have children, lather, rinse and repeat. A very predictable narrative. Intuitively, I yearned for something more in life.
I discovered this as I learned about the Christian faith during my college years. After working as an engineer for a few years, I sensed a disconnect between my (English-speaking) Asian American friends and the typical church — be it the ethnic Asian church or mainstream mostly-Caucasian church.
Thus began my life journey to see if God might use me to make a difference. I took a leap of faith and went to seminary. I pastored for 5 years — 2 years in an ethnic Chinese church and 3 years in a multi-Asian/multi-ethnic church plant. I started blogging. I worked with a private family foundation to develop Asian American leadership.
Now I’m well into my 40s, and the same issues keep recurring about the bicultural tensions of being Asian and American, both at the same time. The mainstreaming of Asian America hasn’t resolved this dilemma (cf. 20-something freddiew describing the sigh from his Asian parents).
Supposedly, there is a surge of Asian American participation in college ministries and American churches, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at Christian media and books and conferences. I’d like to think that being Asian American can be much more than just being Asian or just being American.
I believe how we live out our Christian faith is much more than prayer and Bible study and church attending and serving. There is a whole cultural and relational layer that’s has to be contextualized and incarnationalized into our lived theology. That is, an Asian American Christian marriage and an Asian American Christian family will look different in its practical theology because of its cultural and relational context.
More specifically, 2 issues I’m particularly passionate about (or, burdened for) are: 1stly, how we relate to one another. How can Asian American Christians better demonstrate reconciliation, conflict resolution, forgiveness, and restoring relationships? And, 2ndly, how we can accept and value the average Asian American person and the broken-hearted too. There’s an ugly side of Asian cultures that devalues those who don’t get the top grades, have superb performance, and/or attaining social status, not to mention those who are struggling with life, be it mental illness, addictions, hurts, and hangups. In Christ, we have nothing to prove and no one to impress. That’s good news! And we have a long ways to live that out as Asians and Asian Americans.
I’m glad there’s a place online like Next Gener.Asian Church to have these vital conversations to flesh out our faith in a richer and more fully-textured manner. There’s much to talk about — let’s get on with it!
We’ve been keeping it pretty quiet here at the Next Generasian Church, just doing a couple Tokboxes on Thursday nights, and we’ll keep it light for a couple more weeks when we get our stuff together for a RESET on the whole blog/site/approach.
Over the few years that NG.AC has been around, a lot of new and fresh voices have helped pushed the discussion forward: Eugene Cho, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Charles Lee and Soong-Chan Rah and many, many others have made Asian Americans visible in church leadership not only in the blogosphere, but leading in many areas of philanthropy, activism and advocacy. And for them, we are inspired and grateful.
With the recent episodes of the Deadly Vipers incident and calling out Francis Chan, it seems that this blog has taken on somewhat of a more critical, separatist reputation, which is, as many commenters have noted, not very Christian and not very helpful. So, we’re preparing this blog for a “Reset.”
Basically, what this entails is an overhaul of the blog’s format and look, contributors, and approach. Without saying too much, we hope to do a lot more sharing, showing, and storytelling to show windows into Asian American church and how we might move forward in the next generation of ethnic and multi-ethnic churches. I hope this excites you as much as it does me. This blog, which started as something of an outlet for my grief and heartbreak for the church, has grown into a resource for many others and has potential to do more good than harm, provided we pay attention and learn from our mistakes.
The Re-set is in the works. I can’t tell you when just yet, but know that it is coming. Thanks again for reading, subscribing, sharing and commenting!