Grace encounters at Goshen and Chicago

To build stronger and deeper relationships with our Mennonite brothers and sisters who have been actively engaged in peace and reconciliation work,  ReconciliAsian board proposed that we needed to visit the Mennonite Mecca- Goshen, Indiana.  However, we didn’t know when would be the best time for such a trip.  When Hyun was invited to speak at KOSTA Chicago- a Korean Christian conference that focuses on Korean international students studying in the United States, we knew that this summer would be the time to make an extensive trip to the Midwest.

June 23-July 1: Goshen and Elkhart, Indiana

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Top left with Ruth and John Roth; top right with Sandy Miller and John Lapp; middle left with Andre Gingrich-Stoner; middle right with Dan Miller; bottom left with Allan Rudy-Froese; bottom middle with Saulo Padilla; bottom right with Rebecca Slough

Thanks to our amazing board member, Hannah Heinzekehr who organized our itinerary, our one week in the Goshen area was filled with meeting incredible people and organizations.  Some of the highlights included:

  • eating homemade veggie burgers with Joanna Shenk and Josh Kinder at the Prairie Wolf Collective at 10pm
  • touring around the MCC office with Saulo Padilla and seeing the active volunteers at work compressing blankets, and putting together the school kits and the hygiene kits to send all over the world
  • speaking at the MC USA office and thanking Sandy Miller and John Lapp of Mennonite Mission Network in person for the support that was impetus in the formation of ReconciliAsian
  • meeting Dan Miller of Indiana-Michigan Conference and the church planting work God is placing in the heart of the conference
  • having Larry and Wilma Miller open their beautiful home and hosting a dessert social for College Mennonite Church Homebuilders
  • speaking at College Mennonite Church where they warmly welcomed us to share about our journey towards reconciliation (you can see video of the sermon here:  http://collegemennonite.org/cmc_stream.php?filename=20140629) and having coffee time with Terry and Kay Shue after church
  • visiting Andre Gingerich Stoner of MC USA in South Bend and meeting the amazing members of their intentional community- many who are students of Notre Dame- who are transforming their neighborhood with their presence and daily witness.
  • connecting with Dean Rebecca Slough, Jewel Longenecker, and Allan Rudy-Froese of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and looking for collaborative work in the future
  • touring around the beautiful campus of Goshen College
  • spending time with Wilbert Shenk, Hyun’s mentor from Fuller Theological Seminary who was most influential in shaping Hyun’s theology of mission and church
  • coffee meeting at the Electric Brew with Wes Bontrager of Yellowcreek Mennonite Church and hearing his committed love for Korea and the Korean Anabaptists in Korea
  • reconnecting with a fellow Korean Mennonite, Saejin Lee, who attended Church for Others when she was in Los Angeles
  • spending a lot of time with our gracious hosts, John and Ruth Roth, who spoiled us with great food and rich conversations the entire week

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At Wilma and Larry Miller’s home with College Mennonite members who came to hear about ReconciliAsian

One of the most unexpected grace encounters came when we received a call from Gilberto Perez, the executive director of Intercultural and International Development at Goshen College.  He invited us to partner with Goshen College in promoting higher education among Asian American youth. We gladly accepted, and as a result received a portion of the Lilly Foundation grant that Goshen College received to promote diversity in higher education!  We are so grateful and honored for such collaboration.

July 1-7:  KOSTA at Wheaton College

From Goshen, we drove towards Wheaton, Illinois.  Every first week of July, Koreans from all over the United Sates gather on Wheaton College campus and hold an annual Christian conference called KOSTA.  This year was their 29th gathering and about 1,000 Korean students- most who are international graduate school students- came together under the theme, “Our weakness, His Strength”.  Hyun was invited to lead several workshops throughout the conference, and they were especially interested in his perspective as a pacifist and as a Korean Mennonite.photo (2)

Some of the highlights from KOSTA included:

  • seeing the staff and organizers’ spirit of volunteerism and deep commitment to serve and minister to the participants
  • recognizing that although our perspective in theology and practice may be different from the wider evangelical audience of the conference, we felt humbled that they wanted to hear our views and practices and gave us the space to share our perspectives
  • leading several workshops and recognizing that there is a growing interest in understanding restorative justice and peacemaking amongst the participants
  • being interviewed to give a brief introduction about the Mennonite values and convictions that undergird our commitment to peace and reconciliation.  (You can see the video clip here:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=869624183067554).
  • reconnecting with old friends who are scattered in the US as well as with those who came as speakers from Korea, and spending the whole week in fellowship together

Although the two weeks in the Midwest was quite intense, it was a time of refreshing and renewal.  As we had prayed in the beginning of the trip, relationships with people we knew deepened as we sat and broke break, drank coffee, and had ice cream together.  We were deeply encouraged by Mennonite faith leaders who have lived out their commitment to Christ and lived a way of peace sacrificially.  We recognize that we stand on their shoulders to continue the work of peace.  We were also excited to see a new generation of Koreans and felt hopeful about the possibilities of their future.

In a way, the direction of this trip- from Los Angeles to Goshen to Chicago- is the direction of our organization.  Although we have Korean American roots, we have been influenced by the Mennonites, and we are now moving towards the larger Korean American community to educate, equip, and extend the vision of peace and reconciliation.

Book club begins with Little Book series

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Conflict transformation, restorative justice, circle process- these are relatively new terminologies and practices for us that need to be fleshed out and contextualized.

Following the 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 have been meeting since late July.  We are going through the Little Book Series, and began with Jean Paul Lederach’s Conflict Transformation translated into Korean by Jeeho Park.  We will be discussing Circle Processes by Kay Pranis this Monday. If you are interested in joining us, contact us at reconciliasian@gmail.com.

We meet on Mondays from 7-9pm at the First Congregational Church of Pasadena (2nd floor).

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Little Book of Conflict Transformation translated by Jeeho Park was recently published in Korea

Justice and Peacemaking Discipleship School explores “Doing Life Together”

photo (12)From April 28 to May 27th, participants gathered at Gardena Presbyterian Church twice a week for five weeks to participate in Journey Towards Reconciliation, an intensive justice and peacemaking discipleship school.  We gathered centered on the theme of “Doing Life Together” and explored various topics with a peacemaking and justice lens.

Dr. Suh emphasizes the importance of reading the Bible with a restorative justice lens.

Dr. Suh emphasizes the importance of reading the Bible with a restorative justice lens. (photo by Daniel Lee)

We began the first session with worship acknowledging that we are followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  Our goal is to honor his name through our lives here on earth. The second session was led by Dr. Kyunglan Suh of Fuller Theological Seminary who clearly laid the biblical foundation for restorative justice.  She highlighted the importance of relating to one another with the goal of restoring the victim, and that this is especially important as we do mission work overseas.

On May 5th, Hokwan Seon, who is a missionary in Thailand, expanded on the concept of conflict transformation.  He emphasized the importance of normalizing conflict in communities or in churches, and taking these opportunities to engage in a third way.  Many of the participants enjoyed the interactive exercises through the workshop which emphasized teambuilding and collaboration.

Soekwan Seon led conflict transformation exercises

Pastor Soekwan Seon (second from the right) led lively conflict transformation exercises (photo taken by Daniel Lee)

On May 6th, Pastor Sunghwan Kim, the lead pastor of Gardena Presbyterian Church, began the seminar entitled “Handmade Life” emphasizing the incarnate Jesus who touched, made, and held people and things around him.  Jesus’ spirituality was not an abstract meditation, but one that engaged his surrounding and created and recreated throughout his ministry.   He invited the participants to practice the spirituality of incarnate living.

Pastor Kim displays the many hammers he made during "Handmade Life" seminar.

Pastor Kim displays the many hammers he made during “Handmade Life” seminar. (photo taken by Daniel Lee)

On May 10th, we had the privilege to spend the whole Saturday to hear Steve and Joy Yoon share their powerful testimony of living and thriving in Northeast Asia.  They shared honestly about the challenges of living in North Korea, but also the incredible grace of God they have witnessed in the land.  Steve beautifully shared,  “We engage spiritual warfare in this way: we fight the spirit of idolatry with worship acknowledging His lordship; we fight the spirit of pride with the practice of humility; we fight the spirit of unforgiveness with the spirit of forgiveness; we fight the spirit of division with the spirit of unity.”

Joy read a powerful reconciliation letter she wrote to the NK government

Joy read a powerful reconciliation letter she wrote to the NK government (photo by Daniel Lee)

On May 19-20, Jill Shook, the author of Making Housing Happen,  introduced the concept of housing justice.  If we really believed that God owned the land, how would that change the way we view our use of land? Shook challenged us to look at the theology of housing, land, ownership, and stewardship as the foundation to engage in creating affordable housing in local communities. Her workshop dared us to dream what it would look like for us to live together in creative and dynamic ways.

Jill Shook explains the biblical foundation of housing justice

Jill Shook explains the biblical foundation of housing justice (photo by Daniel Lee)

The final week of JTR was led by the dynamic duo, Ron and Roxanne Claassen from Center for Conflict and Peacemaking Studies at Fresno Pacific University.  How can you discipline so that it can restore?  What are the practical steps to take when conflict escalates in a classroom setting?  In the home?  These questions were addressed and we learned to create a respect agreement to promote a culture that is constructive rather than destructive.

The last group shot of JTR at Gardena Presbyterian Church with Ron and Roxanne Claassen

The last group shot of JTR at Gardena Presbyterian Church with Ron and Roxanne Claassen (photo by Daniel Lee)

The five-full weeks again challenged and transformed the lives of those who attended regularly.  19 participants who attended at least 7 out of 9 sessions were given a certificate of completion, and we celebrated the completion of another justice and peacemaking discipleship school.  We especially recognized Gardena Presbyterian Church who graciously and lavishly welcomed and hosted us for the five weeks with delectable meals and snacks.  Thank you again!

ReconciliAsian in Asia

ReconciliAsian at the Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia

On April 21- 25, 2014, forty-four Christian leaders, practitioners, and educators from seminaries, universities, para-church organizations, peace centers, and churches gathered from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and the United States to spend five days at the Pilgrim House in Gapyeong, South Korea.

Group photo taken at the DMZ

Group photo taken at the DMZ

The vision for this forum grew out of a December 2012 consultation at Duke University Center for Reconciliation when leaders from Northeast Asia came together to discern what was needed to nourish a Christian vision of peace and reconciliation in Northeast Asia.

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New friends and mentors were made

The goal of this forum was to build new relationships and worship together to discern what is happening in the Northeast Asian region and how a biblical vision reconciliation can lead and invite us to receive God’s gift of New Creation, God’s gift of lament, his gift of hope, and to form a deep spirituality that can sustain the ministry of reconciliation over the long haul as we deal with the historic and urgent challenges of conflict and pain.

It was a wonderful week connecting with many peacemakers from Northeast Asia, but the day that particularly stood out for me (Sue) was the second day when we wrestled with difficult stories of deep pain in the region. In the morning, one Hong Kong woman shared powerful stories of women while she was living in Afghanistan for seven years. She led us to view lament as a form of a protest- from crying out “how long” to “long enough.”  This was especially fitting because Korea as a nation was mourning the devastating tragedy of Sewol ferry and feeling utterly hopeless as the nation saw the lack of government response to rescue over 300 people, mostly high school students trapped in the ferry.  We also heard from a Japanese woman about the hopelessness she has felt after the tsunami and the nuclear reactor crisis that wiped out her hometown, Fukushima in March 2011.  As these stories were told and we listened to each other with deep compassion, we began to recognize that these were “our” stories, no longer Japanese or Korean stories. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we began to embrace these stories as our stories.

Fellowship continues in the late evening over Korean style fried chicken, walnut cake, and other goodies from Jae Young Lee and Karen Spicher of NARPI

Fellowship continues in the late evening over Korean style fried chicken, walnut cake, and other goodies from Jae Young Lee and Karen Spicher of NARPI

As a Korean American woman, I was unsure what my role would be in the NE Asia dialogue.  However, throughout the week, Chris Rice asked me to facilitate sessions and share my story, and through these unexpected opportunities saw that the gift that I can bring to the forum was to facilitate and create a safe place for dialogue to begin.  I appreciated Chris Rice’s intentional effort to step back as a white male leader in facilitating discussions and recognizing gifts in others who have the language and the leadership skills to lead, and through this process, I discovered my gifts.

Many opportunities to network with leaders from NE Asia were made throughout the week.  It was especially exciting to see that there were three Korean Anabaptists at the forum, and one Catholic woman who attended Eastern Mennonite University. One of the participants said that he had never considered himself as a Northeast Asian, but always Chinese.  To him, this new way of looking at himself has widened his perspective in working for peace.  The ability identify ourselves not only as a person of specific nationality, but to interact as citizens of the kingdom beyond the walls of national identity was very powerful and an important issue that we will continue to deepen through future meetings. The next forum will be in Nagasaki, Japan, and those who attended this forum will be invited to help organize the next gathering.  I look forward to the possibility of being part of this important gathering next year.

Sign up for Journey Towards Reconciliation

 ReconciliAsian Update
Peace & Justice Discipleship School begins April 28th

ReconciliAsian will begin Journey Towards Reconciliation 2 (JTR2) on April 28th.  This is an intensive five-week peace and justice discipleship school (meeting Mondays and Tuesdays) exploring the centrality of the gospel as the gospel of peace and reconciliation. We have a great line up of speakers who will help facilitate delving deeper into the topics such as restorative justice, living together in solidarity with the poor, peace spirituality, restorative humanity, peace in the Korean Peninsula, housing justice, interpersonal conflict transformation, and restorative education.

We are especially excited to be offering the courses in the South Bay area where many Korean Americans reside. Gardena Presbyterian Church has graciously opened its doors to host JTR2. Please pray for the five-week program that many will come and embrace of the gospel with renewed vision and spirit.

Meet Clara

Through the ten-week Journey Towards Reconciliation 1 (JTR1), we have been blessed to form a friendship with Clara.  Through the program, we discovered that Clara has a rich cross-cultural background having moved from Korea to Argentina, then Brazil, England, France, and finally to the U.S.. Through her journey, she has become fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, and Korean.  Having encountered many difficult situations in various countries as an Asian woman, and currently as an educator, she sees the importance of learning conflict transformation skills. For Clara, however, the most difficult conflict to reconcile has been her fear of North Korea, the country where her parents were born. Clara commented that JTR1 has helped her in her journey to reconcile with North Korea.  She realized that her hope and prayer for a unified Korea is real. “I have crossed the line [from fear to reconciliation].  I had never imagined ever visiting North Korea, but I now I think I can take steps to do this.  This is huge for me!”  Her transformation through JTR1 has compelled her to help organize JTR2.  “I’ve decided to commit to ReconciliAsian because I see that what this organization does is very important.  I’m not going to sacrifice my time if I don’t see the value in it.  I see the staff working with a genuine heart to follow the way of Jesus, and I want to be part of this.”

     

Planning and Praying Together

We are so grateful for the wonderful planning team who have committed their time and talent to prepare for the five-week course. We have been meeting regularly to develop JTR2 curriculum and pray, and through these gatherings, we are discovering the rich gifts each person brings to the group that deepens our time together.  Please continue to pray with us:

  • Pray that the vision of peace and reconciliation in the gospel will be clearly communicated through the speakers.
  • Pray for the participants that they would feel welcomed and feel safe to share and reflect deeply through the course.
  • Pray for the energy of the staff and volunteers who will be serving for the five weeks.

Journey Towards ReconciliAsian 2: five-week justice and peacemaking discipleship school program

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ReconciliAsian will begin Journey Towards Reconciliation 2 (JTR2) on April 28th. This is an intensive five-week peace and justice discipleship school (meeting Mondays and Tuesdays) exploring the centrality of the gospel as the gospel of peace and reconciliation. We have a great line up of speakers who will help facilitate delving deeper into the topics such as restorative justice, living together in solidarity with the poor, peace spirituality, restorative humanity, peace in the Korean Peninsula, housing justice, interpersonal conflict transformation, and restorative education. 

Everyone is welcome! The classes are from 6:30-9:30pm EXCEPT on May 10th. May 10th class is on a Saturday morning from 9am to 2pm. Share with those who might be interested!Journey Towards ReconciliAsian 2:  five-week justice and peacemaking discipleship school program