Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

By Melanie Mar Chow

As a college student of psychology, I often found myself visiting the library to find useful articles to navigate the abnormalities of the changing pace of life.  I knew that four years would pass quickly.  I needed to find some idea of a career path in college, or else I would not know where to go next. I appreciated having at my fingertips friends in the field of psychology who brought insights. Those same spurts of seeking still happen, but now on the internet looking for psychological and spiritual input. 

To write about denial, I sought to review psychological articles. I have been pondering the realization that we might be with this pandemic situation for a longer time, as much as I deny it.  As I delved into articles, I learned something interesting about denial.  

Denial can be a way of coping that provides some time to adjust to new distressing, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable situations.  “How do you feel the day went?” is a common question in our family dinners.  When the answer to the question is “I feel Egyptian,” other members know the person needs space.  That answer also invites special care from the family, at minimum a listening ear and a hot cup of Earl Grey tea. 

Why Egyptian?  That reference comes from the old school quote, “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” In that statement is a play on the words referencing the Nile river, slang as Da Nile. Egyptian becomes a metaphor for someone who is in denial of their current status. 

One positive way I learned from reading about denial is that it can be a liminal space to pause and find protection by pausing to ponder the truth about an event or situation one is facing and then move forward.  Being in that space can allow processing to begin with first gaining a healthy way to cope rather than avoid it or hope someone would make this situation disappear. 

The saying “denial as an Egyptian river” also reminded me of another saying, “getting into hot water”.  When I was young, my mom often would draw a bath to signify the end of her day.  Some days she would be in her bath longer or shorter.  When some of my days unfold in stories of something painful, overwhelming, or even involving danger, I respond by thinking I need to take a bath.  Baths offer time to sit in hot water (literally and physically) to offer calm to be ready to take on the issues and move forward.  

When the heat of the water cools, two things happen.  I realize I need to get out because of two things:  1) my skin gets that weird, wrinkled look or gets dried, or 2) being the Seattle girl, staying in too long the water gets too cold.  Most times, I leave bath time with some great perspective from reading or praying.  When I asked my mom, she said that baths better prepare us to sleep.  I see that sometimes bathing helps wash off my day, ready to move toward recovery in sleep. 

Getting out of the tub also brings awareness of the truth that denial is a self-protecting behavior.  Yes, there is a danger of staying in denial.  Jeremiah 6:14 reads “they dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace’, they say when there is no peace (NIV).”  When people have pain, giving a band-aid is temporary. Worse is to misdiagnose pain as a simple headache.  Moving past denial brings healing. Denial as a positive pause is a superficial treatment.  Healing comes from making sure it is truly a “pause” and not a permanent “stop”.  That is, by acknowledging the truth of the situation.  

My heart is troubled in this pandemic season that we are neglecting our times with the Lord.  If we are not caring for our hearts and souls, we have little to give.  I hope to model the importance of making time to see God is indeed in control and to demonstrate that He can be trusted to help us move past denial safely.

Many examples in the Bible tell us about spending too much time in self-preservation or self-protection instead of moving to times to trust God.  For sure, I would not deny my sins as that is destructive behavior, though that temptation is present.  I am grateful for having relationships with friends that ask me about my current location in life (Egypt?) so that I can be that help for others to find life with a better reality. 

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)

Rev. Melanie Mar Chow serves God through Asian American Christian Fellowship, the campus ministry division of the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society (JEMS). She has been an ordained American Baptist minister since 2004. A Pacific Northwest native, she currently lives with her husband and daughter in Southern California.

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By Debbie Gin

Photo by manhhai

A clear memory from when I was in youth group has haunted me for four decades.  It wasn’t Thanksgiving, but when asked to share what aspect of the retreat we were thankful for, one by one, all the opbas and unnees (older “brothers” and “sisters”) expressed how much their parents had sacrificed for them to attend the gathering.  By the time we got around the large circle, we were all sobbing.


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By Joy Wong

Photo by Tong Tuan Anh

As this month’s blog theme is “denial,” I looked up references to the word in the Bible. There aren’t too many. But this famous verse popped up: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24 NIV).


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By Ajung Sojwal

Photo by Daniel Arauz

I would like to think of myself as a reasonable, well-informed person who cannot and will not deny the evils of systemic racism. I also thought that the “Church” would never willfully perpetuate the evils of systemic racism; until a few years ago, when I found myself dumbfounded by the open declaration of a deeply racist belief from a high-ranking member of the clergy. At a meeting with the clergy person who had the authority and power to recruit and reject priests seeking a call, I was told of a black clergy colleague, “I don’t trust her, she is very dark.”


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By Angela Ryo

Photo by Jason Boldero

One of the encounters I’ve treasured the most comes from the Bible. It’s a no-name character who often goes by the title of the “bleeding woman” or the “hemorrhaging woman” because she’s been bleeding for 12 years until she touches Jesus. At the lowest rung of her society, she is only identified by her disease.


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Encounter: Warm Light

By Casey Iwanaga

Photo by Alexander Mueller

I was called to stand, stand in my shame and guilt in God’s light
I just wanted to run and hide in the dark
God’s light changed, from blinding to warm
He grabbed my hand as I turned to run
Just stood with me in His warm grace and love
Changing this unwanted, fearful encounter into a needed one
Full of acceptance and forgiveness
His warm light
A place I can stay forever

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.

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Photo by Dino Reichmuth
Photo by Dino Reichmuth

By Sarah D. Park

I grew up going to church retreats as a kid. I don’t know if this is a Korean church phenomenon, but it was normal to go up into the mountains to spend time with God once a year.

And the night before we had to go home, well, that was a special night. No cup ramen. No card games on the floor. The main sanctuary lights would be turned down low and the worship band would spontaneously begin to play moody background music. The youth pastor takes the stage, mic in hand and intensity in his gaze, calling out prepubescents to repent and cry out to their savior. Kids start falling to their knees, ugly crying into the carpet, scattered rows of small hunched over children shuddering into their tears.


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Encounter: Loneliness

By Diana Kim

Photo by Lenny K Photography

As a single woman in ministry, I have struggled with loneliness for many years, even considering and accepting it as a vocational hazard. There seems to be very few people I can truly be open and honest with, as my opening up to them can seem like venting and complaining (which, sometimes it is), and make me sound ungrateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. The pastoral hat I wear seems to hide the fact that I am human, capable of feeling lonely; perhaps it is because people often imagine pastors to constantly be with others that pastors suffering through loneliness doesn’t seem to be possible, or perhaps it’s because we are “one with God” that pastors are expected to never feel lonely.


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Photo by Alessio Maffeis

By Wendy Choy-Chan

The lie was that they could become like God, knowing good and evil. Little did Adam and Eve know that what they became was a twisted version of a monadic, exclusive god, with power and authority, but without communion, no more communion with the one true God and no more communion with each other.

And the lie continued. Cain killed to become the exclusive giver acceptable to God; the brothers sold Joseph to get rid of the exclusive beloved of their father, Jacob; Saul hunted down David to be the exclusive anointed king of Israel. The lie twisted the whole reality. Instead of a power that spread goodness and an authority that benefitted others, it was now a power that accumulated goodness for self and an authority that benefitted self. (more…)

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Subversion: God at Work

Photo by Chad Sparkes

By Tina Teng-Henson
Every now and then,
Jesus hijacks my heart
and captures it anew. (more…)

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