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ENGAGE Speaker Series: March 18: Global Poverty and one Christian Response March 10, 2008

Posted by peterong in ENGAGE, Events, poverty, Social Justice, Where You Can Find Me.
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Pastoral and Laity Ministries (PaLM). PaLM is launching another season of monthly ENGAGE Speaker Series for the Laity serving Asian American churches. The past seasons we had topics on developing Asian American youth ministry, as well as, Asian American Church leadership. This Spring we are presenting a series to equip the Asian American church to think about social justice and community engagement. Last month we had over 70 people come out to hear Director of Restore NYC discuss the ministry outreaching to sex trafficked workers. Please forward this to your fellowship group leaders, lay leaders or pastors who might be interested in attending. Our next ENGAGE Speaker Series announcement is below:Tuesday, March 18,2008, 7-9pm

Oversea Chinese Mission (OCM) church in Chinatown154 Hester St. on the corner of Elizabeth St.To RSVP, contact Peter Ong at peter@palmny.org (more…)

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ENGAGE Speaker Series begins this month February 12, 2008

Posted by peterong in ENGAGE, Social Justice.
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ENGAGE Speaker Series begins!Pastoral and Laity Ministries is launching another season of monthly ENGAGE Speaker Series for the Laity serving Asian American churches. The past seasons we had topics on developing Asian American youth ministry, as well as, Asian American Church leadership. This Spring we are presenting a series to equip the Asian American church to think about social justice and community engagement. Our first ENGAGE Speaker Series announcement is below:FebruaryTuesday, Feb 19, 2008.7-9pm @Oversea Chinese Mission (OCM) church in Chinatown154 Hester St. on the corner of Elizabeth St. (map here)To RSVP, contact Peter Ong at peter[at]palmny[dot]orgDescription:Pastoral and Laity Ministries (PaLM) is excited to announce our Spring 2008 Season of ENGAGE Speaker Series to provide training and networking opportunities to lay leaders. This Spring, we will focus on a series of talks/conversations concerning how church leaders can think about social justice and community engagement. The series is held on the third Tuesday of every month at various venues throughout the city. We hope that it will serve your congregation leadership as a resource for some training and teaching. This Spring Speaker Series program is in partnership with OneHouse, an Asian American ministry that seeks to unify and mobilize the body of Jesus Christ through worship and intercessory prayer to bring social justice to global and local communities and to honor Christ’s love for the oppressed.This month we will have the Executive Director of Restore NYC share about the issues facing our community in the area of sex trafficked workers. Ms. Huckel will share some insight on this often neglected issue in the Asian American community and some thoughts on how to engage this community.The trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing crime in the world, generating $28 billion dollars a year. NYC’s JFK airport is deemed by the Department of State to be a major port of entry and transit point for trafficking. The sex trade in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs ranges from brothels, strip clubs, peep booth shows, massage parlors, street prostitution, escort services, bars, and private apartments. This presentation will provide an overview on the issue of sex trafficking from an international, as well as a local NYC-based level, providing specific and concrete ways for the Christian community to serve and fight this injustice in our communities. (more…)

Poor Race August 30, 2007

Posted by peterong in Asian American, New York Ministries, racism, Reflections, Social Justice, Uncategorized.
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“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardship.”
W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

Taking some time out to think about the panel discussion that I participated at the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York City. It was a panel discussion entitled “Do Faith-Based Mentorship Programs Work?” As I prepared and sat on the panel of such esteemed faith community leaders, I soon came to knowledge that I was the only non African American on the panel. As I heard their concerns for the African American youth (particularly of African American males.) They spoke of recidivism of incarcerated youth and the cycle of crime and the absence of adult male presence. As I sat there, I shared a picture of the immigrant Chinese and challenge them to look beyond the Asian American community as what Tim Tseng once said as “foreigners” or “model minority.” It was a provocative exchange that left me a bit concerned about my limited view on implications of race in the complex workings of justice and mercy.

In my years serving in Chinatown and the Asian American church there has been an underlying ethnocentrism that borders on racism. We love to send missions trips to “East Asia” and where there are “East Asian” presence. But I believe that we are not racist by culture but the issue was one of leadership and vision. I think that as a culture, we tend to live in our circles and worship the culture more than Christ but it is inherent for us to practice tribalism for the sake of comfort. It is too easy to label Asian American churches as “racist” and not going through a deeper evaluation that we all have tendencies to create huddles. But the gospel challenges us to make intentional steps towards one another. In the Ephesians church, there were those who wanted to create huddles but Paul challenges them to engage. Pastor Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church,  expounded once that we are not to only “tolerate” those who are foreign to us (spiritually, racially, economically, etc.) but to enter in and love deeply for what they have to contribute to our understanding of the gospel and the yet to be redeemed world. Rob Bell in his book Sex God, says this:

“The temptation is always to avoid things that are difficult and complex. To go around them rather than through them. ” (Italics mine)

So often in our journey is one sidestep after another. To avoid the unknown out of fear. I am afraid to admit that I have ignored this issue for a great deal of time. As I have been serving the Asian American community, I have sidestepped the issues of race in the larger context. But God has a great way of reversing that…

This past weekend, the members of OneHouse met with New York Faith & Justice and had a profound conversation about injustice on both the international and domestic urban context. Lisa Harper, the Director of NY Faith & Justice, opened up the conversation by saying, “if we do not solve our problems here, we are going to transplant the problems overseas.” We talked about justice and the issues of churches being mostly silent on it and how the Asian American church could be perceived as “racist” because of our lack of relevance to underserved communities outside of Asian communities.

During the conversation, my heart was burning as I saw how God has yearned to bring His Shalom into the realm of the affluence of the Asian American church. Beyond our minor church buildings but to the streets, to reclaim our humanity through engaging with those who are blessed (beatitudes blessed: the poor). As we shared over a meal, we learned that we have so much more on this journey to learn. To learn that there are brothers and sisters in our communities, who share the same subway seats who we have not exchanged a single hint of a prayer for one another. What if there is something to be said of Asian Americans and our role in this conversation…to be at the table to share a meal and our hearts for those who are literally disconnected because of our fear. I confess I have been guilty of this. It has been easy for me to send a check to help a family thousands of miles from me. We said how “paternalistic” our motives are and how we are seeing that we are “helping” but not connecting with the humanity of it. So the question is, what am I praying for here in my zip code? What am I am understanding about the issues concerning the neighbors here. How do I work out the gospel in the city? I have ignored that Chinatown is populated by Latinos, African Americans and now with the new influx of the Caucasian hipsters in the Lower East Side. When we become unconcerned we have unleashed chaos into the gospel pursuit of redemption to those things that are broken.

As I remembered a sermon on Jonah (you can download it here) by Steven Ro, Living Faith Community Church pastor. I walked away with the sense that justice is an act of expressing a merciful God. Pastor Ro said a God whose “…mercies extend to the end of the world…to even to the enemies of God.” When we live out justice, it reflects mercy of God. It shows that we are living in a continued message that God is compassionate. Jonah’s understanding was God was only compassionate to the religious people. But through this story of Jonah, it shows that God is not tribal, filled with judgment, not unconcerned, but rather a God who is inclusive, holy pity, and committed concern through compassion.

We are so distorted in our narrow vision and it is this blind spot that will forever mute our faith to nothing more than a spiritual ethnic club that says neither of God’s broad vision for redemption or His profound intent of moving us towards connecting with our disconnectedness.

Remembering Denny’s April 11, 2007

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Asian American Campus, Politics, racism, Rants, Social Justice.
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Today is the tenth anniversary of the incident where three Asian American and a white student were attacked at a Denny’s after denying service. Syracuse University had a Remembrance Circle in the quad (see blog here and my pictures here).

I went to this event with a heavy heart and with a sense of something more significant that what was presented. When the testimonies of racism were presented they were little more than “oh, it is so hard to be Asian” and “everyone makes fun of us” and yet, I wonder what this whole “fight” against racism is a clutching for identity and dignity that is summed in this mundane and bland expression of “please someone do something about this teasing” which is called “racism.” One testimony that really got me was a Chinese girl who was dating a white guy said she dumped her because his friend told him he should date a blonde. I was like “what???” (more…)

Echoes of Rwanda… October 13, 2006

Posted by peterong in Social Justice.
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After watching Hotel Rwanda this past week (in preparation for OneHouse on October 21), my heart was stirred by the crisis in Darfur, Sudan…about three years ago…I felt a deep commitment to pray for this region and wanting to serve there…


Noura Silaman (21) cries as she does not have the food to take care of her niece Intesar Iesa Eltaher (9 months) in Jebel Mara Mountains of Darfur, Sudan. © Corbis

I came across this that silenced me…pause and found a story about an exhibition called “The Smallest Witnesses” about children drawing their experiences of the genocide there…

Please take a look at PBS report on this…(make sure you click on the video clip)

Here is an in-depth PBS site on the crisis…

Go to Save Darfur website and get the word out…

A recent article about U2’s Bono’s urging for action in Darfur…

A report from the Human Right Watch entitled “The Smallest Witnesses: The Conflict in Darfur through Children Eyes” (pdf file)

The world is closing their eyes…

again and who will speak for them…who will say…”stop…”

Evangelical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith September 11, 2006

Posted by peterong in Christ and Culture, Emergent, Politics, Social Justice.
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an interesting article that was featured in the Washington Post…Emergent Church Movement personality Brian Mclaren is much referred to in this article…enjoy!
By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 10, 2006; A01

Lyndsay Moseley was no longer inspired by the evangelical Christian faith of her youth. As an environmental activist, she believed that it offered little spiritual support for her work and was overly focused on opposing abortion and gay marriage.

Then the 27-year-old District resident discovered Brian D. McLaren of Laurel, one of contemporary Christianity’s hottest authors and founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in upper Montgomery County.

“He always talks about the environment as a priority when he talks about the church being relevant to the world,” Moseley said. “He’s leading a [spiritual] conversation that needs to happen,” one that “I’ve been hungry for.”

McLaren has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly active group of progressive evangelicals who are challenging the theological orthodoxy and political dominance of the religious right. He also is an intellectual guru of “emerging church,” a grass-roots movement among young evangelicals exploring new models of living out their Christian faith. (more…)

Democracy and Its Discontents: Religion and the Underside of Pacific Asian North America August 2, 2006

Posted by peterong in Asian American, Asian American Church, Christ and Culture, Politics, Social Justice.
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APAARI 2006

August 3-5, 2006
Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley

After two gatherings in the Chicago area, the Asian Pacific Americans and Religion Research Initiative (APARRI) returns this year to the San Francisco Bay Area. The 2006 conference, to be held August 3-5 at the University of California at Berkeley, will be APARRI’s eighth, again bringing scholars from the social sciences and humanities together with scholars from the theological disciplines and leaders of faith communities for engagement around issues of Asian American and Pacific Islander religion. (more…)