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By Liz Chang

Conflict is uncomfortable. Sometimes people embrace it and dive right into it gracefully or combatively. Other times, people do everything they can to avoid it or prevent it. 

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Conflict: True North

By Emi Iwanaga

Photo by Spirit-Fire
 “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea
 in the days of Herod, the King,
 behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
 saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? 
 For we have seen his star in the east,
 and are come to worship him.”
 Matthew 2:1-2 
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By Joy Wong

Photo by weitz1

The other day, as I was surfing channels, I landed upon a far-right television show. The person speaking was speaking angrily about how “they say, ‘just shut up and move on.’ ‘Shut up and move on’ they say. Well I didn’t see them ‘shut up and move on’ about the 2016 election!”

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By Jerrica KF Ching

Photo by Sameer0406

I am sure that many, if not all of us, who are in helping professions are feeling the immense strain of working and serving during a year of turmoil.  It is a combination of a pandemic, an election year, and several civil movements that have left many feeling anxious, angry, apathetic, and more.  In the midst of ongoing external conflict between our city, state, and national leaders, I have also found myself fatigued by my own inner conflict I am experiencing on a day-to- day basis.

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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. 

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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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