Imagining a “new WE” in Northeast Asia

2015 04 22_15-04-22_2425

From April 20th-25th, Sue attended the 2nd annual Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia hosted in Nagasaki, Japan. This event was co-sponsored by Duke Center for Reconciliation and Mennonite Central Committee inviting 58 representatives from Japan, Korea, China, and the US. We gathered to discuss how we as Christian pastors, scholars, and activists can come together to seriously engage in the ministry of reconciliation in the region.

NAGASAKI
The location of the forum was very significant for this year marks the 70th anniversary of the US dropping the atomic bomb in Nagasaki which was impetus in Japan surrendering and ending World War II. But if we look at the story of the bombing in Nagasaki just a little closer, it is more complex.

Nagasaki is the center of Japanese Catholicism that dates back to 1582. In spite of the heavy persecution and outlawing of Christianity, “hidden Christians” kept their faith for over 250 years. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the “discovery of the Christians” in Nagasaki. The irony of an American Catholic pilot dropping the atomic bomb on this historical Christian city populated by Japanese Catholics and beautiful churches raise the question of defining who is “the enemy”.

In addition, the Forum participants were reminded that the Japanese were not the only people who were killed by the atomic bomb. Thousands of Korean and Chinese laborers working in Nagasaki were doubly victimized, unable to receive compensation from Japan when they needed medical treatment from the exposure of A-bomb. As forced laborers with no power, their needs were neglected. We lamented at the layers of pain experienced by the violence of war and the many unseen and nameless victims of who suffered in the name of nationalism.

IMG_8944(collage photo includes photos from 26 Martyrs Museum, Oura Cathedral, Peace Park, Urakami Cathedral, Ground Zero of A-Bomb, Takashi Nagai Museum, Oka Masaharu Nagasaki Peace Museum)

The “new we”
How then, can we move towards a “new we” when there is so much brokenness and hurt in our history? Can we truly see each other as brothers and sisters when we also carry the trauma and the pain of our parents and grandparents?

Through our week together, worshiping, studying, eating, biking, bathing (public bath!), and walking together, I was able to see glimmer of hope towards a “new we”:

  •  we wept together at Oka Masaharu Memorial Nagasaki Peace Museum, a small and independent museum run by a Japanese pastor that tells the hidden stories of the Korean and Chinese victims of war and bring justice for them.
  • we laid hands on the Japanese Christian leaders and blessed them as a minority in their country. For some of the Korean and Chinese leaders, they commented that this was the first time they touched a Japanese person or blessed the Japanese people.
  • I saw a Japanese photographer dreaming with a Korean American resident of North Korea of making a pilgrimage to North Korea and capturing photos of the people there through the eyes of a Japanese Christian.
  •  A registered church leader and unregistered church leader from China spent the whole week together talking, eating, and even laughing- something that people said was impossible to do.
  • Catholics and Protestants came together to work together for peace; several Korean Protestants shared that this was the first time that they interacted so closely with Catholics and their respect has grown deeper for the other.
  • Two Japanese pastors rolled my luggage all the way to the bus station wanting to make sure that I would not get lost. They carried my load, my burden. By the time we got to the station, I called them my brothers.IMG_8891(Mennonite photo op: Sue Park-Hur, Jennifer Deibert, Myrrl Byler, Joe Manickam, Kyungjung Kim, Hongtao Yin)

We still have a long way to go in this journey towards reconciliation, but I sensed a commitment that we will not abandon the gift of reconciliation God has given to us, for we have seen Christ in one another through our time together. 

If You Don’t Give You Can’t Lose / Gureombi, The Wind is Blowing Film and Speech Tour 2015

When:  March 31, 2015 at 7pm

Where: Casa Robles Community 6355 Oak Ave. Temple City, CA 91780

Join us on March 31st at 7pm to see discuss the activities on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Join Hee Eun “Silver” Park and Paco Michelson, peace activists from the Jeju Island Anti-Naval Base struggle, who will be traveling across the US in March and April to share the story of the struggle through the screening of a new full-length documentary, and speaking about their personal experiences on Jeju Island, Korea.

In addition, Tim Nafziger from Christian Peacemaker Teams will share many stories about Christian activism around the world. We hope you can come to this important gathering.

For more info: http://savejejunow.org/2015-us-film-speech-tour/
10507086_491922837623160_4258211471154557921_o

Podcast: The tri-union God is holding the church

From January 25-29th, Hyun Hur attended 2015 Pastors Week at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.  200 pastors and leaders attended from across the US and Canada.  Hyun had the privilege to preach on the last day of the week.

Hyun called the church to view unity as an essential part of its identity and witness and to trust God. Using a text from I Corinthians 3, he emphasized, “God lives in community, and this Father, Son and Holy Spirit are holding this church.” When you are struggling with division or issues of morality, he said, “Still the tri-union God is holding this church.” (you may need to clip and paste the link here) http://anabaptist.dreamhosters.com/podcasts/events-and-celebrations/?name=2015-02-06_hyun_hur_audio_only.mp310457720_324061961124877_7140914187875133978_o (1)

Or visit www.ambs.edu/news-events/iTunesU.cfm to download reflections on the topic, “Where Culture Blurs Theology: What is an Anabaptist Christian?” by Janet Plenert, Meghan Good, Greg Boyd, Malinda Berry, Drew Hart, Elisabeth Soto Albrecht, Hyun Hur, and David B. Miller.

Race in the parking lot

I need to vent.  It’s about racism, I think. It’s complicated.  It’s going to be a long rant, but oddly anger sometimes gives me the energy to unleash the frustrations that have been in me with more clarity.

youngdong2We just returned from encountering the police in front of a restaurant we frequent.  Hyun had been away for several days, and to celebrate his return, the family went out for dinner. We were forty minutes into our meal when two strangers approached our table and asked if we owned a red van.  When Hyun said yes, the man said that Hyun had hit his car in the parking lot.  Immediately, Hyun went out with the couple while I sat with the kids trying to finish dinner calmly, but I could barely swallow my food trying to figure what was going on.

A little later Hyun called me out and asked me to call the police to make a report. Clearly there was no damage to their car and Hyun opened our driver’s side door to show that there was no way for the door to hit the side of their door (it doesn’t touch their door because of their side mirror). Then they changed the story and said that they now saw a scratch on their side mirror, but wouldn’t let us see the scratch.  It was getting ridiculous so we said that it would be best to call the police to help resolve this situation.  They both looked wild-eyed and said if that’s what we wanted, to call them.  We asked what they wanted.  What do they want us to do? They said they already told us what they wanted and didn’t  want to repeat it.  See how ridiculous this was getting?

The police didn’t come until 50 minutes later.  Shift change.  Those 50 minutes felt like forever.  We had three worried kids so we called our neighbor to come and take them home.  While waiting, we heard many taunting remarks to provoke us, to hurt us. They were making racial slurs about us to each other- how we don’t understanding the culture, this is America, we need to learn the culture and show a little respect.  I wanted to react to their offensive remarks, but Hyun sensed my anger and told me to stay away.  Later, I heard from Hyun that they made many other very violent and offensive remarks to each other for Hyun to hear like how if there were guns, this would have been easily solved;  that my coughing is probably due to AIDS or herpes and Hyun should be careful.  See how they were trying to get us to fight?

Finally the police came- a male and a female officer.  The male officer took the couple aside and heard their story.  Then he came to us and heard ours.  He basically told us that the man wanted an apology and that no report needed to be written out since that was all they were asking for.  We could make a civil report but then that meant we would have to exchange information and they would get all of ours.  He told Hyun to be the bigger man and apologize for possibly bumping the car.  My big man did.  I was proud of him.

It would have been good if it ended there.  But the story didn’t stop there.  This was the part that really got me angry.  Another police car came to the scene.  One male officer.  The officer approached the man that provoked us.  The guy said to the officer, “all I wanted was some respect and apology.”  Then the officer commented, “You know,  some cultures don’t know how to apologize.You just have to understand.” And hearing that last comment, the couple drove away.

I immediately turned to the police officer who was speaking to the couple and confronted him.  I repeated the comment he made to confirm if what I heard was correct and he said yes but the comment wasn’t towards us.  I told him that his comment to the couple  who taunted us was very inappropriate, that he just validated the perpetual foreigner mentality that people have of Asians.  He said that wasn’t his intent.  He was trying to de-escalate the situation.  I told the police officer that he never came to hear our side and making such comments in no way de-escalated the situation now and situations to come.  In fact, the officer affirmed the stereotype the couple have of Asian Americans- that we don’t know how to apologize, that we are culturally unassimilated and so different that we don’t know how to apologize civilly in an American manner.  The couple, when they encounter other Asian Americans in their community in the future, will express their words of hate and anger with the confirmation that they received from the officer. In my opinion, he did not de-escalate the situation.

The police officer apologized to me saying that it wasn’t his intention and that he was aware of the diversity in the community having grown up in the community.  I responded that although his intent may have been good, the impact of his comment was hurtful and in no way helpful.  I validated the first team of officers who came and that I appreciated the professional way they handled the situation.  Then I faced the other officer and told him that I was sure that he is a wonderful person but how he handled the situation was partial and unprofessional, and that I hope he will be more aware of the impact he makes with his words.

raceI am not sure how important the last piece of information would be to some people, but it is important to me as a person living in Los Angeles. The couple that accused us of “hitting” their car were African Americans.  The woman may have been a Latina.  The officers who came to the scene were Latinos presiding over a city that was predominantly Asian.  What we experienced tonight was complex. How do we go about naming such experiences?  How can we address the complexities in a community that involves so many people of different ethnicities?  Did we experience racism or did we just have an encounter with ignorant people?  Am I racist for calling this African American couple ignorant?  Would I have been so bold to share my anger to the officers if they were white?  Was I more bold because the officers were Latinos?  How much does race place into this encounter in the parking lot?  

Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, the director of Transformative Peacemaking of Mennonite USA commented that we cannot ignore the dynamics of internalized racism.  People of color hear the same messages about themselves and other groups.  They then internalize them and act out on those messages.  She also pointed out people of color may be bi-cultural but they are not necessarily inter-cultural.  One of the proactive action we can take is to address to the need for more intercultural competency training, not diversity training for the police.  I can pursue this.  This I can do.  This I will do.

Mennonite World Fellowship Sunday highlights ReconciliAsian

Yay! Mennonite World Conference has highlighted ReconciliAsian for the Mennonite World Fellowship Sunday which is observed around the world on January 21, 2015. We are humbled to know that Mennonites around the world will be reading our story and interceding for the ministry of ReconciliAsian! Our story starts on page 7. https://www.mwc-cmm.org/sites/default/files/website_files/wfs_2015_stories_en.pdf

THANKS, WOW, HELP

For those familiar with the author Anne Lamott, one of her more recent books is entitled, Help, Thanks, Wow: the Three Essential Prayers summarizing that these three simple words capture the heart of our prayers to God.  In trying to succinctly capture the right words about October 25th, these words also seem appropriately fitting.

THANKS
On October 25th, over 100 guests gathered at Pritchard Hall in Sierra Madre Congregational Church for our second annual ReconciliAsian fundraising dinner.   Although we began planning this event to share the vision of ReconciliAsian and the financial needs for the next year, we wanted it to be more than that.  We wanted it to be a night of truly giving thanks for the incredible year we have had and also celebrating the unexpected doors that have opened for us for next year. And what better ways to do that than through personal stories of ReconciliAsian from our amazing friends and partners?

Here are some of the highlights from their stories:

•    Kyunglan Suh, a professor of  intercultural studies at Fuller Seminary, shared about the countless obstacles she has faced as a female pastor in a Korean immigrant church.  However, through her journey with ReconciliAsian, she has delved into the field of restorative justice which has helped her to reframe her theology, ministry, and personal faith.

•     Jeeho Park, the director of Center for Conflict Transformation, joined us via video from Korea.  Jeeho is also the representative of ReconciliAsian in Korea who encouraged the guests to “keep creating more conflict” to emphasize that conflict is a normal part of our daily life.

•    Gilberto Perez Jr., the director for Intercultural Development and Educational Partnership at Goshen College flew in from Indiana to announce the new partnership between Goshen College and ReconciliAsian as we find creative ways to promote higher education to urban Asian youth.  We were also honored to have Jim Brenneman, the President of Goshen College join us for the evening with his wife, Terri.

•    Father Jun Nakai, a Japanese Jesuit priest who is committed to the work of reconciliation between Korea and Japan, powerfully shared about the courage of the Korean comfort women he has met (these women were used as sex slaves to “comfort” Japanese soldiers during World War 2).   The surviving and living comfort women have sought justice and formal apology from the Japanese government for the atrocities done to them by demonstrating in front of the Japanese embassy in Korea every Wednesday since 1992.  When Japan was devastated by the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and the nuclear reactor disaster, the comfort women offered words of healing and strength during their Wednesday demonstration, “Stand up, Japan. Stand up!” These halmoni, or grandmothers, were bringing words of hope and restoration, not destruction of Japan.

•    We laid hands and prayed for Daniel and Haruka Lee as they prepare to return to Japan after studying in the United States.  They plan to begin the ministry of ReconciliAsian in Japan as they see the distrust and tension growing between the Japanese and Korean Japanese.  They hope to plant seeds of peace as they seek God’s guidance upon their return.

•    The evening ended with fun raffle prizes and silent auction items donated from friends and supporters of ReconciliAsian including David Augsburger, Christine Chang, Al and Anne Dueck, Mike and Wendy Gabelman, Gyedo Jeon, Heekyung Kim, Jeehye and Sunghwan Kim, Karen Kim, Lisa Paek Kim, Frank Lee, Kirk and Bea Lee, Debora Meoljono, and Connie Park. Thank you!


WOW
Through the fundraising event, we raised over $11,000!  We are so grateful for the generous and sacrificial gifts the guests have donated to ReconciliAsian.

HELP
If you were unable to attend but would also like to help us reach our goal of $20,000, it is not too late.  You can send your tax-deductible donation to:

ReconciliAsian
P.O. Box 70466
Pasadena, CA 91117

Or give online at:
Reconciliasian.com
and hit the Paypal button.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

August Update: book club, family conference, and mission training

photo 2 (4)

“At first, it was hard not to interrupt in the circle process, but it really helped me to learn how to listen, really listen.” -Clara K.

Conflict transformation, restorative justice, circle process– these are relatively new concepts for many Korean Americans and need to be fleshed out and practiced in small groups.  Throughout the summer, we had wonderful opportunities to introduce these concepts and work to implement them in various settings.

ReconciliAsian Summer Book Club

Rules for the circle process is created by the whole group

Rules for the circle process is created by the whole group

Following the Spring Justice and Peacemaking Discipleship School, ReconciliAsian book club was formed. Those interested in studying and applying these important peacemaking principles in our homes, churches, and communities met for five weeks in Pasadena, CA. We went through the Little Book Series, and began with John Paul Lederach’s Little Book of Conflict Transformation translated into Korean by Jeeho Park, and then the Little Book of Circle Processes by Kay Pranis.  One of our participants, Nan Yun, commented:

“Our time together has made me realize that my view of the gospel was limited- that the gospel is all about love, love on the cross, but not on the impact that he brought upon his community, his society.  I think as a Christ follower, I need to really think about how I am to consider the impact I am having in my community. Especially as a pastor, I have a group of kids that I need to lead, so I leave with a lot of things to ponder and tools to practice with.”

ANC junior high group gets lively while playing cooperative games

ANC junior high group gets lively while playing cooperative games

Youth and Family Conference
From August 1-2, ReconciliAsian led a two-day junior high family conference at All Nations Church (ANC) in Sunland, CA focusing on loving and communicating well as a family. The youth and parents met separately for two sessions to learn about conflict transformation skills and restorative justice concepts interwoven in lively cooperative games and small group discussions. The youth sessions were led in English while the parents sessions were in Korean. The last session was a joint session with the youth and parents presented in Konglish.  In our last session, every participant came up to talk about something they learned that they want to take with them.  Some of the comments included:photo 1 (6)

  • I learned that conflict is normal (youth).
  • The purpose of our existence is love and reconciliation (parent).
  • I learned more about respect and love, active listening, and I-message, not you-message (youth).
  • I hope that I will spend more time with family members rather than studying in my room alone (youth).
  • I will lay aside my pride and focus on restoring relationships instead (parent).
  • We are going to make a family respect agreement (parent).
Junior High Family Conference highlighted the importance of respect and trust in the family

Junior High Family Conference highlighted the importance of respect and trust in the family

Radical Journey and DOOR Hollywood
How does peacemaking and mission connect? On August 28th, ReconciliAsian was asked to address this to a team from Radical Journey, a great program of Mennonite Mission Network that sends out young adults to serve overseas for ten months. As part of their mission training before heading to Indonesia and South Africa, the team came to Los Angeles to engage the diversity of culture and languages of this city.  

Teams from Radical Journey and DOOR Hollywood came to hear about the story of ReconciliAsian; Del Hershberger and Sharon Norton of MMN led Radical Journey; Matt Schmitt and Marvin Wadlow of DOOR Hollywood; dim sum lunch

Teams from Radical Journey and DOOR Hollywood came to hear about the story of ReconciliAsian; Del Hershberger and Sharon Norton of MMN led Radical Journey; Matt Schmitt and Marvin Wadlow of DOOR Hollywood; dim sum lunch

Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR), a wonderful organization in Hollywood that focuses on urban ministry and leadership, also came to hear about how we engage peacemaking and mission with the Korean American community.   It was a great time highlighting the centrality of the ministry of reconciliation, especially in urban ministry, and also to explore ways to work together for peace in the city of Los Angeles.

We have been blessed to have these opportunities to learn, practice, and train with a committed group of people who hunger for a deeper way to connect and love God, their family, churches, and their neighbors locally and globally.