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By Emi Iwanaga


“Then Job replied to the Lord: 
“I know that you can do all things; 
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
...My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭42:1-2,5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Light, space, zest— that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. 
I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing:
To live with him in his house my whole life long.
 I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. 
That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, 
The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. 
Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: 
“Be good to me! Answer me!” 
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” 
my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” 
I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth.
 Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. 
I’ll say it again: Stay with God.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭27:1, 4-5, 7-9, 13-14‬ ‭MSG‬‬


RESPONSE

Job’s friends their responses, have you ever listened to them?

            Rebuke, surmise, accusation 

Observing his life predicament,

            Reasoned something must be wrong with him.

They, in their response, stayed present with God?

Job his responses, have you ever listened to them?

            Recognition, surrender, affirmation

Experiencing his life predicament,

            Reasoned God is God and is having His way with him.

He, in his response, stayed present with God?

Other races, other ethnicities, other cultures, other life predicaments.

What’s our responses, have we ever listened to them?

Their responses, have they ever listened to them?

We/They, in our responses, oh to be found staying present with God!

            Staying present with God — His design.  His desire.

Emi Iwanaga served thirteen years as a missionary in Amazon Valley in Brazil, over 20+ years as a children’s ministry director, women’s ministry director, and pastor’s wife, and is currently a spiritual director.

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By Jerrica KF Ching

When I learned that I would need to do a reflection upon God and race, I felt a sudden rush of conflicting emotions.  The past several months have been extremely difficult to process, understand, and work through, given the countless amount of attacks upon the AAPI community, particularly the elderly.  These events have had me unearthing memories of my own upbringing that feel completely fresh and brand new, almost as though I am looking through them with a fresh new pair of eyes.  This process has caused my emotions to run from one extreme to the other, from recognizing how racism was prevalent for me even at a young age, and how interactions with others as an adult were merely swept under the rug repeatedly.

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By Melanie Mar Chow

Photo by Kevin Dooley

But we all, with unveiled faces, looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18 NASB)

I only needed to look in a mirror each morning to be reminded of who I am. My mom would tell me how she came to terms with being different in her school growing up. I remember being excited to go to school as a child. It was fun to be in a room with people the same age as me, the same size as me plus or minus 5 inches, height or width, at least in kindergarten. It didn’t take long for that excitement to wither away when a pointed word from an honest child told me that I looked different or did things that were different. Within a year, it changed. Why was my hair straight and long, not curly? What was the black paper I was eating instead of a sandwich? Why did I not have a chocolate cupcake in my lunchbox? Why was there was a cookie with a piece of paper?

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By April Yamasaki

Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer

Last year when my church switched from worshipping together in person to worshipping together over Zoom, we kept the same format as much as possible. Those responsible for preparing our Sunday services still prepared a full liturgy focused around the lectionary Scripture readings. As usual, our worship time began with a call to worship; included songs and prayers, a time of confession and assurance, an affirmation of faith; and ended with a benediction. We celebrated communion on the first Sunday of the month, and I continued to preach once a month, with other speakers taking turns as usual.

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By Ajung Sojwal

Photo by Ted & Dani Percival

I once heard a preacher mention that people tend to be more faithful church-goers when they feel more financially secure. Well, that really threw me for a loop for I thought it would be the other way round. But then, Jesus used a lot of money illustrations with the “faithful.” So, maybe money is a larger factor in my relationship with God than I am willing to admit.

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By Angela Ryo

Photo by Chris Potter

I grew up in a Korean immigrant church where the offering plate was passed around on Sunday mornings, and I’d put money in it (if I had any!) when it came around. As I got older and earned more money, I tried to be more strategic about giving and did my best to tithe every month as much as possible. However, it wasn’t until I started serving in predominantly white mainline congregations that I found out about pledging. I had no idea that people pledged the amount they would give for the entire year! “Of course!” I thought, “That makes so much sense!” As I started to pledge, I was surprised by how pledging raised my level of commitment to the congregation I served.

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By Joy Wong

Photo by Jason Jacobs

In a post this past February, I wrote about the feeling of being lost in my faith journey, having been in evangelical circles my whole life and yet now, trying to navigate and make sense of the state of evangelicalism in light of American politics. Perhaps due to the isolation that comes with sheltering at home from Covid-19 as well as being a stay-at-home mom, the state of my faith felt largely like my own personal experience. While it’s been many years since I took on ministry leadership of any kind and my main ponderings have circled around the questions of locating myself in my faith journey, in the back of my mind I’ve also wondered whether my sense of being lost in that faith journey has disqualified me from being able to confidently lead in ministry in the future.

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By Sarah D. Park

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd

I work for a nonprofit organization called Project Peace East Bay, and we recently shifted to a horizontal organizational structure. Rather than having a staff of divvied up roles answering to one executive director, we got rid of that position entirely and make decisions as a four-person team.

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By Diana Kim

Photo by Terry Alexander

What makes a good leader? It’s not just about knowledge or authority. It is about empathy, being able to walk in and understand the experiences and struggles of others. Given the current state of the world, and all the hate we are witnessing throughout the country, empathy is all the more necessary for spiritual leaders to truly connect with their communities and congregations. 

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By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by carulmare

When Jesus called Simon to be his disciple, he told Simon he would be called Peter — Peter the leader of the early church. Jesus did not interview Simon for his IQ, EQ, talents, qualifications, and experiences. Simon did not write a thesis or pass an examining board to get his credentials to become Peter, the leader. If one were to check Simon Peter’s performance along the way, he had failed miserably — right after he aced the question of who Jesus was, he flunked by rebuking Jesus’ mission to the cross; he failed to grasp the meaning behind Jesus washing the disciples’ feet; he used his self-will to defend Jesus with a sword but denied him with his mouth. Despite all these “failures,” Jesus chose Simon and formed him to become Peter.

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