Memories from Asian American Equipping Symposium

Fuller Theological Seminary served as the venue for the 3rd Asian American Equipping Symposium this week Monday and Tuesday (3/19-20), thanks to the tireless effort of Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC). With 100+ ministry leaders from the worlds of academia, churches, ministries, and Christian counseling, the presentations and responses revolved around the theme of healing memories, in reference to the pains, scars, and wounds that are particular to the Asian cultural contexts. I was delighted to hear 2 of our NextGenerAsianChurch bloggers–Helen Lee and Kathy Khang– cited in a couple of papers presented.

These gatherings are few and far between, and much needed as so many Asian Americans in the church and outside the church are basically the walking wounded, needlessly carrying more burden and suffering than they ought. Yes, the healing that ultimately comes from God was referenced numerous times. The resources of talk therapy and emotional discourse had its share of mentions. And, again, the lament of the seemingly insurmountable difficulties of bring emotional healing to personal (and collective) wounds amidst shame-based Asian cultures.

Other good points were raised, these are just a few: what can we learn of social harmony and incorporating that into our understanding of shalom? What can we do if immigrants are not equipped (by Confucian-influenced Asian cultures) for emotional discourse? Why does increased church attendance directly correlate to lower self esteem? What would it look like for Asians to experience healing apart from talk therapy? What do we do when the notion of “boundaries” is based on a western individualistic model of the self doesn’t readily fit in an Asian/ Asian-American context? … I’ve included a sketch of my Day 1 notes below so you can catch a few sound bites.
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I’d venture to say that a majority of those in the room were quite accomplished (yes, many letters behind the name were swirling around on business cards) and we already know much about these issues, and as such, to review what we’ve already experienced and known may have only been most helpful for those who are at the entry level and starting on their healing journey or beginning deeper ministry engagement. Much more is needed. Much much more. Nevertheless, events like these are notable and worthy.

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