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By Jerrica KF Ching

Photo by Allison Wildman

Until recently, I would never consider myself someone who liked being outdoors.  For the majority of my life, despite being born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and living there until I was twenty-two, I loved being indoors.  I moved to Oregon in 2014 and continued my appreciation for staying inside, give or take a few drives out to the coastline to spend time on beaches that were vastly different than the ones in Hawaii.  Occasionally there would be a hike or two I’d go on with my friends.  But if you asked me if I wanted to do something indoors or outdoors, I would almost undoubtedly choose something inside away from the elements.

It wasn’t until COVID-19 became the “new normal” and travel became very limited that I became remotely interested in doing anything outdoors.  I was invited to go camping at the Oregon coast for a long weekend and being overwhelmed with dread and getting cabin fever for being stuck inside for so long, I happily agreed.  So, there I was in a small tent at a campsite in Cannon Beach, Oregon, huddled in my sleeping bag on the hard earth, and for whatever reason something switched in my brain that this was the best thing ever!  Despite the cold, I was grateful for shelter.  I could feel (and smell) the earth beneath me and was grateful that it was solid ground.  I could see so many stars at night and heard so many sounds that created a natural white noise machine.  I had no cell phone service so I could simply nap in my hammock or take a trip down to the beach around a campfire with friends. 

Everything seemed so vibrant; were trees always this green?  Did birds always sound this beautiful when dawn broke?  Was there always a fine mist lifting off the ground in the morning, creating the image of a fairytale land?  Of course, there was!  Of course, the world truly is a beautiful place!  It is beautiful to the point of bringing awe, shock, wonder, and tears of joy. It’s there, but we are so caught up in everything that we don’t slow down to look and appreciate it.  While it took a pandemic for me to appreciate all the glorious wonders of God around me, I am grateful for the lesson and the reminder that our creator created all that is good.

As our country slowly adapts to the environment that COVID-19 created, it is my hope that we don’t forget that there is still so much to appreciate around us that God has made.  Whether it be found in the outdoors on a hike, or as we look out the windows as some of us return to our offices or our houses of worship, may we remember, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4:4).

Jerrica KF Ching grew up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii and currently lives in the beautiful state of Washington, working as a licensed mental health counselor and Asian/Pacific Islander mental health specialist, working with children, teens, and adults within the AAPI community. She graduated with an MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling from George Fox University, where she is now an adjunct professor and supervisor. Her research on racial colorblindness has been published in The International Journal of Social Science Studies.

By Melanie Mar Chow

Photo by Cindy Shebley

“They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 

(I Tim. 6:18-19)

As a young Christian, I remember the following lyrics of the song, He’s Everything to Me:.

In the stars His handiwork I see,

On the wind, He speaks with majesty,

Though he ruleth over land and sea, what is that to me?

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By Angela Ryo

Photo by Loco Steve

One of my favorite seminary professors is an Old Testament professor, Dr. Hiebert, who loves the earth. Until I took his class in the first year of seminary, the relationship I had with God’s creation was based on Genesis 1:28 (NRSV): “God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” We were created to have “dominion” over the earth and that meant we could do with it as we pleased. The original Hebrew verb that gets translated as “have dominion” in Gen. 1:28 is “radah,” which is often used in the context of ruling over enemies in the Old Testament.

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By Ajung Sojwal

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Two years ago, coming to terms with the situation of what I imagined house arrest might be like, I proceeded to convert one of the rooms in our house to become my office. I hung my prized print of He Qi’s Crucifixion #1 on the wall directly opposite my desk. As I write this, I see my cheap print of the magnificent painting with the folks crowding around the foot of Jesus’ cross. Every single person at the scene of the crucifixion seems desperate for something from Jesus; there’s even a prison cell floating behind the cross, with, of course, someone looking from behind the bars. Not a moment of peace even in his dying hours for one whose birth was announced with, “peace be with you.” With that frozen scene of violence before me I wonder what peacemaking means for me these days.

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By Casey Iwanaga

Photo by sammydavisdog

Peace

God is not an angry God 

He can be an angry father, a just disciplinary, a vengeful God

He doesn’t hold grudges or point fingers 

When we are angry He waits; 

waits for us to find peace within ourselves, 

waits until we want Him in our lives 

waits until we can be at peace with his will 

Peace comes when we can be okay with change and God’s involvement 

Not an automatic response from sinners who want their freewill and control 

The cost of freewill is God not in our lives 

The prize of God’s involvement in our lives is peace 

Each person gets to decide what they want more 

Regardless everyone ends up chasing that feeling; peace 

Peace can be costly or completely free 

Casey Iwanaga is a junior at the University of California in Merced. Her father is a retired pastor currently serving as Chairman of the OMS Holiness Churches.

By Sarah D. Park

Photo by Marianna Smiley on Unsplash

A few months ago, I experienced a conflict with a longtime friend, someone who I never doubted would always be a part of my life. We’ve had misunderstandings and disagreements before, but in this situation, for the first time, we could not talk our way through it. Instead, we took time apart from each other. For months, I walked around as if I had a hole in my body, my heart grasping at the empty space my friend had once occupied. I’d compulsively press upon the experience like a large discolored bruise, just to feel the ache again, confounded by a persisting “How could we get here?” Something so sure had shattered and my understanding of making peace had to change.

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By Diana Kim

Photo by Levon Avdoyan

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

-Matthew 5:9-

When preaching for Children’s Ministry last week, I asked the students: “Do you think your friends and classmates can tell that you are a Christian just by the way you act?” Some immediately said “yes” (though I think this was just their Sunday School response training kicking in), others said “maybe” (they probably gave the question a little more thought than the students who answered “yes”), and some remained quiet. This is not just a question that can challenge elementary students; it should challenge all of us.

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By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd

A meeting is called to resolve the conflict. Each person presents the argument for or against. Everyone agrees to stand by the result of the vote so as to keep the unity of the group. Is peace the end product of this peacemaking process with the resolution of the conflict?

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By Tina Teng-Henson

Photo by kirsten

“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy  that we are engaged in this ministry,  we do not lose heart.”  2 Corinthians 4:1

I’ve pulled back from active ministry for a season, tired from pastoring and parenting during the pandemic, somewhat discouraged by the state of Christian leadership in our country. Listening to the Mars Hill podcast this spring and summer reminded me of the spiritual abuse I’d seen in some churches – but didn’t paint the picture of how else we could be, what else we could do to work against Satan and his devices. 

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By Melanie Mar Chow

Photo by Gary Millar

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.  Hebrews 13:7-8 (NIV)

Our church began hosting memorial services for the people who have passed away during the pandemic.  This year, I have lost a few great mentors, who were also role models to many others.  I was saddened that we were unable to send them off and celebrate the life they lived well.

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