Our Asian American ‘ohana (family) is hurting and needs your help and prayers! Though we are a diverse ‘ohana, including East Asians, Southeast Asians, and South Asians, our culture is often silent about our trauma. But we feel the pain of stereotypes, discrimination, mistreatment, and hate and racism. We feel the pain of not belonging, feeling invisible, being overlooked, and considered the “other.”
The model minority myth gives us an image of being passive and quiet, not disrupting the status quo. But many of us—including the 5,481 Asian American students who are part of InterVarsity communities—are hurting, grieving, angry, and want change.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, hate and violent acts against the Asian American ‘ohana have increased almost 150 percent with over 2,800 incidents documented and many others unreported. Many of these acts have been targeting the elderly in various cities. Then eight people, including six Asian women, were murdered in Atlanta as three Asian businesses were targeted.
When we heard about the murders in Atlanta during a recent InterVarsity Spring Break Project, we stopped and prayed. Responses varied from shock, anger, numbness, and grief. As a multiethnic ‘ohana, we felt the pain and prayed together.
There have been many vigils and events on college campuses and surrounding communities addressing anti-Asian hate, seeking to grieve and heal together, bring greater awareness, and find solidarity. Many struggle with increased fear doing things they have always done. I have listened and prayed with many Asian American InterVarsity campus ministers across America who have experienced pain and trauma, and they have been ministering to their students in similar ways.
We as an Asian American ‘ohana identify with those who are suffering in our midst and see our stories in theirs. Mistreatment of Asians and Asian Americans in the US is not something new. Events throughout history, including the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, attacks on Filipino laborers in 1930, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 are all part of our story, no matter our varying ages and how many generations it’s been since our families came to the US.
5 Ways to Pray for Our Asian American ‘Ohana
So how can you support Asian American students, faculty, and staff on campuses and the whole Asian American ‘ohana in this trying time? Stand with us against anti-Asian hate by crying out to the Lord with us.
These prayer requests don’t just come from me but have been gleaned from others in our Asian American ‘ohana. I thank God and those who helped shape my prayers and thoughts. God’s light shines in the darkness (Jn 1:5), and as we face the truth, God’s light shines brighter. He has the power to bring healing and change as we pray deeply and corporately with him.
1. Prayers for Healing & Protection
Simply pray that this anti-Asian hate would stop and for protection of our Asian American ‘ohana. As harassment and violent acts increase, pain deepens as we remember stories of previous trauma. The collective grief, fear, anger, and exhaustion is overwhelming.
Pray that God would be present to bring healing, comfort, and restoration from pain, fear, and anger caused by anti-Asian aggression. Pray that we could sense the loving presence and power of God as we mourn, speak out, and move toward justice. Pray that our fears would be met by God’s peace and that he would release us from shame, the fear of taking up space, and would lead us into a healthy journey of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Pray that justice would be served to those who are causing the trauma.
2. Prayers for Asian Women
Pray for Asian women (daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties, wives, and coworkers) who suffer the pain of patriarchy, misogyny, and are seen as submissive exotic Asian sexual objects. Pray for healing and the restoration of brokenness because of these sins. Our voices are so often dismissed and ignored, so pray that God would unleash a powerful fierceness, freedom, and courage in Asian American women.
And pray for the Church, that we would not blame victims but would blame perpetrators, and that we would repent from ways that we contribute to this injustice toward Asian American women.
3. Prayers to Know We’re Created in God’s Image for Good
Pray that God would release us to know that we are created in his image, that we would be empowered to know our voice, destiny, and gifts. In this season, we want to know that we are seen by God, worthy and valued, while growing in intimacy with him.
Amid the pain, it’s difficult to feel joy and freedom to celebrate the great accomplishments and gifts in our Asian American ‘ohana. Pray for this and for a greater release of creativity and leadership in all aspects of life. We need to live out our God-given identities and purposes and see our stories as precious. Pray for holy imagination.
4. Prayers for Collective Thriving with Other Suffering Communities
As Asian Americans share our stories and pain with others, may we also experience healing within our families, relationships, and the diverse Asian American community. Pray that our historical pain would be healed and that our ‘ohana would come together in new radical and powerful ways as we experience resilience. We don’t want anyone to feel isolated but instead need to move together in collective thriving and seeking wholeness.
Pray that our Asian American and Pacific Islander ‘ohana would have compassion and, in our vulnerability, be aligned with Black, Native, and Latino/a communities who are also experiencing suffering. May we confess, forgive, and repent in solidarity, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that laws and systems of injustice and oppression will be broken and turned around.
5. Prayers for All of Us
Finally, pray that God liberates us all from racism, white supremacy, hate, and violence, bringing us to a place of repentance and transformation. Pray for good biblical theology and that we would embody contextualized faith.
As Asian stereotypes and prejudices are broken, we pray for eyes to see our Asian American brothers and sisters truly as ‘ohana. We pray for non-Asian allies to join us in seeking justice and mercy, including Asian American ‘ohana in our hearts, minds, and cravings and prayers for justice.
For more resources on the Asian American experience in the US and violence toward our ‘ohana, I recommend watching the PBS documentary series Asian Americans, this livestream recording from Seattle’s Asian American Christian leaders, and an interview by The Impact Movement that includes Rev. Sabrina Chan, InterVarsity’s Asian American Ministries Director, and Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah.
Brenda has spent over 44 years leading, discipling, and developing InterVarsity students and staff in San Francisco and Hawai`i. You can support her ministry at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#17.
“What difference does it make if I pray by prayer-walking or pray in my bathroom?” Prayer-walking will certainly have moments of discomfort or awkwardness...But God will engage your senses to make you more aware of the revival he wants to bring to the places you’re currently standing in.
What roles does Jesus play in your life? In college, I would have said things like “Savior,” “Lord,” “Friend,” and “Redeemer” due to my church upbringing and perhaps whatever worship songs were sung that Sunday. Out of all the possibilities, however, I’m convinced that “Prophet” would have been on the bottom of my list. And I don’t think I’m alone in this either.
After a decade of chronic illness, I’ve learned how my body and heart speak the same language. The pain in my head tells of the twist in my heart. I’m still sleepless—mind, body, and soul. I wonder if your new realities feel sleepless, too?
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