May is the month for many celebrations at Bridgeway, including Mental Health Awareness. May is also the month to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage. This annual celebration honors the many contributions and accomplishments of Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, and Native Hawaiians. According to Census 2020, AAPI currently makes up about 5% of the US population, which will almost double to 9% by 2050, making it the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. The percentage of the AAPI population living in Maryland is 6.8% (420,944 people) of the US population. Within our region, Howard County, Montgomery County, Baltimore County, and Frederick County are the most populous AAPI counties in Maryland. This is excellent news. As May approaches, we want to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at Bridgeway. 

First, we will celebrate by becoming a place that welcomes AAPI families. We want to create a place of belonging for our friends. The invitation to welcome is not based on our color, class, and culture but based on the invitation of Christ and what He has done for the world. We want Bridgeway to be a place for sharing unique stories of struggles, resilience, and hope. As we listen to their stories, we will become a refuge or a “Great Tree” where everyone comes under the protection, care, rest, and blessing of the Kingdom of God (Luke 13:18-19). Our message is clear: you will not be alone. We will honor you. We will stand with you as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Second, we will celebrate AAPI’s diversity and cultures together. When I was twelve years old, my family immigrated to America. I have many fond memories of growing up in Chicago. Still, some painful memories remain. For example, I spent hours alone because I didn’t have any friends, often running away from bullies so that I didn’t get beat up. I experienced the frustration of having to learn a new language. I sought approval and acceptance from my peers. I often felt hopeless.

Wanting what they thought was best for their children, my parents unconsciously encouraged us to blend into the dominant American culture as quickly as possible. We drifted slowly away from Korean culture and heritage as if it were inferior and shameful. Sadly, we didn’t even know this dynamic was happening. This approach of assimilation left negative marks on our identity. Sadly, I see the same dilemma in families today. How can we keep our diversity within unity? How do we integrate our distinctiveness, culture, language, and heritage without assimilating into the ocean of the dominant culture? How do we become ourselves without feeling inferior or superior to others as we come together?

A few weeks ago, our Sr. Pastor gave us a powerful sermon based on 1 Corinthians 12. 

The eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you! And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable (1 Cor. 12:21-22).

These verses are a beautiful metaphor for what the Biblical Community looks like in the real world. Proper “integration” looks like the Body of Christ: “many parts, yet one body.” We will celebrate with AAPI friends and families because they complete Bridgeway. We need each other, especially the weak who are indispensable.

Lastly, I want to point toward hope as we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at Bridgeway. People who feel small due to their color, class, or culture often can’t hold onto hope as they wade through their complicated lives. Bridgeway has hope for them, supporting and walking alongside them until they can pick the hope back up. There is a quotation from Shawshank Redemption (1994) when Andy Dufresne tells his best friend, “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Can Bridgeway be a place of hope for many AAPI families.

Will you celebrate our stories with us?

Join us at the Asian Ministry’s inaugural event, The Power of Perspective.


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