As we celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, I am blessed to live in a nation where diversity is celebrated, and I am honored to recognize the historical and cultural contributions individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have made to the United States.

My family came to the United States of America as immigrants in 1973. When we moved from Seoul, Korea to the Windy City – Chicago, Illinois, I was twelve years old. I have many fond memories of growing up in Chicago, but transitioning to a new life in America was not easy.

As I look back at my early years, I was yearning for friendship with my peers. Too often, however, I was dragged into fights by the school bullies because I didn’t look like them or speak like them. I stood out as an easy target as one of the few Asians in an all-white suburban school in Chicago. I was an uninvited outsider.

What would I like to celebrate during Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month? For me, I am thinking about two crucial concepts. First is the idea of inclusion. As an immigrant and someone who is not born in this country, I always felt like an outsider. I asked, “How can I fit in? How do I become an insider? Where is the door?” Even today, as I am learning to become “more American,” I am aware that I am not a real “apple pie, baseball, and Chevrolet” person. I get that. My neighbor said to me the other day, “Yea, I know… but where are you really from?” As a minority person, I am always looking for a place to blend in. I often want to just be a part of the crowd.

As we celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, I am reminded of Dr. Anderson’s definition of Gracism: “Extending positive favor to other people regardless of, and sometimes because of, their color, class, or culture” (Gracism: The Art of Inclusion). Wouldn’t that be great if this teaching would come true in our lives? I think this teaching is possible for us Christians because this is exactly what Christ has done for us. He has shown grace to include us in His forgiveness and accept us as the people of God. Isn’t this what we have to do for others as well?

Second is the unity and diversity principle dynamic. God has created us with certain distinctiveness as a person (Black, White, Latino, Asians, and more). He has endowed us with unique gifts and abilities in our lives. By His divine design, our ethnicity, language, culture, personality, and our capabilities have a purpose in His kingdom. But our uniqueness of self (diversity) doesn’t mean that we are better than or worse than others. There’s no competition here. It is just who we are in Christ. Even though we might not fully understand it now, our diversity is to honor God and for His glory. The challenge for us is, then, how do we accept our identity without feeling superior or inferior to others, and live for the glory of God and love our neighbor? The answer is possible when our self-identities are, first and foremost, found in Christ’s righteousness (His merit and atonement) and not based on our secondary statuses, such as education, job, heritage, race, ethnicity, accomplishments, and success. We are saved by grace alone and not by our “work-righteousness” (i.e., how good we are or what we have accomplished). Isn’t this good news?

So let us celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with our brothers and sisters! Let me invite you to Bridgeway, where we can truly live out the Gospel of Christ through inclusion based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.


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