On Laguna Woods, Asian American Ministries & AAPI Heritage Month
“You remember Dr. Huang, don’t you?” my mother asks.
She takes a sip of hot water and sets down her cup. “Their family used to attend our church in Delaware before Dr. Huang and his wife retired to Orange County,” she says. “After church, they ate lunch with their friends before going back home. Dr. Huang and his wife passed the killer on their way out. That’s when the shooting started.”
My mother shakes her head and sighs. “Why would a person have so much hate?”
As I listen, I’m filled with disbelief. There are times when I’m delighted to learn the world is not as small as it seems, but this isn’t one of those times. Although my town of Hockessin is nearly 2,700 miles away from Laguna Woods, the reality that someone I know narrowly missed becoming a victim of violence hits a little too closely to home.
That’s the thing about being Asian American … no matter the distance, we’re always somehow interconnected: a mourning Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, haunted salon workers in Dallas, women too terrified to take the subway in New York City, ravaged villages in India due to floods, and more.
And often, our interconnectedness turns into mourning for communities that suffer in the wake of violence like Buffalo, Milwaukee, and other places around our nation and world.
But it’s not always the grief that pierces us. Sometimes joy alights. We roar with pride when we see ourselves represented in the Olympics and winning gold or when we grace the silver screens (finally!). We spread the word and preorder like crazy when one of us releases our first book, and we cheer each other on through life as we graduate high school, start our own families, or turn 95 years old.
It’s the same kinship we feel each time a student gives their yes to Jesus, seeks healing and to mend what was broken, or give themselves to others in love and service. As InterVarsity campus ministers, we know that reaching and honoring all Asian students with the good news goes far beyond the campus — we’re impacting whole communities. We are who we are because of the legacies and stories we carry.
And so it’s impossible to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month without acknowledging the communities we represent. We will honor our elders by receiving their stories with dignity and reverence. We will stoke fires of hope and tenacity for our children to encourage them for a life worthy of this calling. And on days that feel especially dark, we will remain confident because we do not face evil alone, as many siblings in our national movement have reached out to us with their love and support, raising their voices in a mighty choir of holy resistance.
I don’t know why a person would have so much hate. But I do know the One who loves all people perfectly. Sustained by our elders, cousins, children, and communities, we continue to bear this torch of faith for every Asian person, so that they, too, will encounter a love that triumphs. What a powerful God we serve!
Hands tell a story. And like my granddaddy, the story of the apostle Peter is also in his hands. It’s a story of four hands in two places, and a picture of the redemption that transforms our weakest moments.