A while back, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship released a paper entitled “Asian American views on Ethnic Specific Ministry and Multi-ethnic Ministry,” by Collin Tomikawa & Sandy Schaupp. I found it to be an interesting read, as both authors give their views on this important topic. Both look at scripture to back up their view on ethnicity and ministry.
Here are some notable quotes from both authors:
I do not view culture an end in and of itself. I value culture, because it is a part of a person. So, as I extend myself in love to another person, I take seriously their culture. Heaven will have people of various cultures and languages, therefore culture will be present, but I do not think of it as culture making it into heaven in and of itself.
I believe with my whole heart that God’s desire for his people is to be racially reconciled as the body of Christ. This is of utmost importance to the kingdom. I also believe that for many Asian Americans an initial (and critical) step in true racial reconciliation is the need to be racially reconciled to oneself. The journey in ethnic identity development and racial reconciliation to oneself can be a complex one. It takes people through both personal issues (self-hate, shame, assimilation mentality) and collective issues (institutional racism, hierarchy of power, racial histories). We are not only individuals, but we are also a corporate people.
I can understand the existence of Asian American chapters, where the Asian-American students are not really being cared for or even reached out to, so they form their own fellowship. The guilt of this scenario is on the majority, and in our case the “multi-ethnic” fellowships that are predominantly white, that just expects anyone who joins them to become like them to be a part of the chapter. So, I think the existence of Asian American chapters is understandable and for the time being maybe even necessary until the “multi-ethnic” chapters really become a place that truly cares for all the nations. However, according to what I see in Acts, I do not think that this separation is what God ultimately desires. It seems clear to me that the desired end is to truly be a multi-ethnic church, not just in numbers and demographics, but where people are in deep relationships across racial, ethnic lines and where racial, ethnic sin and injustices are brought up and resolved.
— Sandy Shaupp
As a Japanese American, I encourage my non-Japanese American brothers and sisters to reach out to the 97% of Japanese Americans who are unchurched (which I hope all will do). One can imagine that there can be a type of advantage I have as a fellow Japanese American in reaching out to Japanese Americans. By no means do I have exclusive rights to the Japanese American population, but I do have some insights and keys others might not. Ethnic specific ministry is partly about discovering how we are to bring the Gospel message to people like ourselves.
— Collin Tomikawa