The Changing Face of America

Three years ago, a young man at church greeted me. I don’t remember how we got on the topic of school but he asked me what my major in college was. I told him I double majored in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies. He looked surprised and exclaimed, “Oh that’s interesting! Because you’re obviously not American!” He meant nothing by the comment I’m sure though there was no way of him knowing I wasn’t a U.S. citizen. I was hot with anger and frustrated with his response. I am surprised now that I held my tongue!! I don’t remember the rest of our conversation and can imagine he must have moved onto another while I stared silently back at him. You might ask why I was angry. I mean let’s be real…I wasn’t an American citizen back then if that’s what he meant. But I was irritated that the young man assumed that because I am a person of color that I am not American.

I am a 1.5 generation Korean raised in America for almost my entire existence. I am a messy and complicated mixture of the two cultures, marbled with some South Tacoma pride! So I was angry at the deep rooted thinking that being “American” is to be white. That I am seen as an “other” that will perpetually be seen as foreign.

Today I became an “American.” What I mean by that is that I became an official citizen of the U.S. I was in an auditorium full of 78 other people from 34 countries. It was a crazy feeling to think we all have a story to tell! The woman at the front named all 34 countries in alphabetical order and had anyone who was a previous citizen of that country stand up. It was truly overwhelming!

This process settled something in my heart. That I would aim to get rid of all bitterness at being treated as a second class citizen and choose to believe in Jesus’ truth, plan and sovereignty over my life. I will aim to not be consumed with hate but to move towards others in love for the sake of the gospel, opening my mouth to speak of hope and justice.

The lady at the front then had us repeat after her a pledge we had to say by law to receive our citizenship. Though by law I had to pledge my allegiance to the American flag, in my heart my allegiance lies with Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven completely. I will reject the things of American culture and society that are against the word of God and the same for Korean culture. It is only in the last 60 ish years that Asians have been able to be naturalized as citizens of the United States so I do not take this lightly. But I know my true and lasting citizenship is in Heaven and therefore I will not live for the American Dream. Nor will I set the U.S. as the standard and put it on a pedestal above other countries. God loves and grieves for all of the world including the U.S.  I will ally myself with God and will aim to love what he loves. God placed me here no matter what anyone else says so I’m fully taking ownership of this country as my own, praying for and working towards its well being!

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7

I am convinced that in order to do this it is imperative that we (esp the church) see ourselves as part of a collective and not as individuals alone. We must feel the sting and the responsibility of our wrongs as a people and a nation. We must feel the duty and desire to make things right in order to give dignity to another and be reconciled. We must not set one people group as the standard and judge others based on that standard. Only then will people will know that we are disciples of Jesus by our love for one another. If love means to bear, believe, hope and endure all things, we can no longer afford to live as a bunch of individuals together on the same land. We need each other to love.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

By 2050 it is projected that there will no longer be an ethnic majority in the United States. The face of America is changing! Maybe I’ll see more people who look like me in public office, in the media, and in church leadership. Faces that are represented with dignity, honor and respect. Maybe assumptions will not rob me or others of relationships, but understanding will propel us into community with one another.

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What had happened. I had been touched. Touched and left. No follow through. No explanation. No commitment. No safety. I liked the attention, but the touch? I could have done without.

I did what any child would do. I cried, but to no avail. So I strived. Strived for the affections of others. Strived for them to stay and not to change their minds. Just keep them happy. Vulnerable and unprotected I went along with every want of those around me. I was unsatisfied, but at least I wasn’t alone, right? But my emotions? Fading. My hope? Nonexistent. So I remained silent.

I could feel pulse of my heart slowly changing. First into mud. Oh no, no it won’t. I quickly gathered it all up, smashed it together, tighter and tighter until it dried. Now I’m safe. It will become rock – untouchable. I no longer long to be loved nor do I desire to love another. I’m no fool. I know the game. I won’t be played.

Used and abused again and again. They’ve taken what they’ve wanted and they’ve left me. And I remained silent.

Tormented even at the life I had chosen, I cried again. Cried out to be rescued, to be saved. This time from myself. But then He came. He entered my heart and called it His home. Jesus entered my soul, regenerated my spirit and called me His own. He tends to my heart and being every moment of my life like a well-watered garden. He has told me everything I’ve ever done and yet, He calls me lovely. This love? I know it’s for keeps. I am no longer silent. No. I will not be silent. Because how could it be that this King is deeply moved by my voice?

Even now I fight the desire to succumb to the whims and wants of others. But I need only to lean into the voice of my Beloved. I find that’s where I have the most clarity, vision, and strength. God has restored my dignity and worth as defined by Him, my Creator. But I’m surprised to find that each day there is more and more He has to say! He’s given me the courage to love and I find there’s more and more love to give. Jesus is winning me over, softening this heart of stone. And I’m confident now that I am safe to give Him all of me, knowing He doesn’t take that lightly. This dignity allows me to be free to choose to be undignified in my expression of love towards this God and even people, who I know are created by the same God who created me.

He has invited me on a wild, crazy adventure and I’d be a straight fool to refuse. I won’t chase the wind. I’m chasing Him.

To truly believe that “everything happens for a reason,” one must believe the Bible is true, that God is God, truly sovereign and that all things are allowed or ordained by him.

Believing this simple truth sets a soul at rest in all our bends towards self-preservation and self-promotion, among other self-motivated and self-achieved ends.  The key word in our tired little worlds is “self.”  Believing the sovereignty of God is radical in our world of self-sufficiency, self-advocacy, self-reliance, which culminates into our pride in being self-made individuals.  The cycle of self-preservation and self-promotion in recreating oneself over and over again never ends.  These which tire a soul can wear one unto death.  Not a willing death by any means, but a slow decrease in the quality of life until one feels as though he/she is breathing but not alive.  Whereas a willing death to self upon the cross of Christ results in true life, a resurrection.  And the fullness of life thereof.  So let us reap the benefits of peace that come from believing God for who he is.  Let us promote Christ, the God who is in control of it all, and humble ourselves beneath the safety of his mighty hand, that in his time he would lift us up. 

 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Lord if You are Willing

Have you ever fanned a tiny spark on the wick of a candle into a flame? It’s the most amazing feeling…a light, gentle, steady and consistent wave will cause the flame to burn brighter.

God waits to graciously pour out himself over those who love him. His meekness is impeccable! I can’t imagine him waiting to just dump himself out over us. I’m in awe of the way God responds to a hungry heart. He gladly and generously pours out grace, love, and salvation on all who call and keep calling on his name. Lord fan the flame of the altar of my heart. May I burn for you brighter and brighter…steady, faithful, willing, hungry, and humble.

Isaiah 30:15
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength

Isaiah 30:18
Therefore The Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For The Lord is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him.

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)

Isaiah 30:19
…He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.

In prayer we can lay hold of God’s willingness to move on our hearts and on the earth! Lord fan the flame of our hearts! We are hungry!

A voice crying out in the wilderness

I am so inspired! I went to watch an independent film at the Grand Cinema called, “Raising Ms. President.” It was a great movie exploring why women make up more than 50% of the population in America but do not engage in politics. I took a few of my College Bound students as a joint field trip with a non profit organization called Ladies First. It is amazing to consider the small things we can do to encourage, empower, and lead a generation into excellence and leadership.

In my life, I’ve wrestled with the Lord with what seems like the inferiority of women in our society.  I’ve been angry at the ways I’ve felt vulnerable for being a women and the treatment I receive in society as a result.  But the Lord has been walking me through as I’ve fought to hold onto biblical truth of the value and role of women.  Jesus radically loved on and treated women with dignity, value, honor, and love.  I know God has made women to be fearless, courageous, honorable and strong. These things are not only reserved for men, but I’ve found that I’ve operated in these more when I am living in the truth that God has purposefully and uniquely made me a woman.

There needs to be more female voices and voices of people of color in the world!  If more than 50% of the United States’ population is female, there needs to be more diverse voices included other than that of white men.  It is not a fight for one voice, but for a variety of voices to reflect the diversity in unity that is God in Trinity.  It’s about remembering the forgotten and bringing home those on the margins.  It’s about caring for the orphans and the widows and hearing the cries of the hurting.  We need each other because we don’t see what we don’t see and we don’t know what we don’t know.  It’s not about personal power, reputation, or a career.  It’s about people, stories, and relationships.  And politics and policies are important because they affect people.

This movie helped me to see that even in the world, my fight is not against men or against dominant white culture.  My fight is for Truth!  I will use my voice to speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves because the Lord defends us.  He fights on our behalf because of his passionate desire for a worthy Bride. I want to be one who cries out about the One who is truly worthy and about the ones he cares deeply about.  I want to see Heaven invade earth a little more each day.  And I want to prepare the way for my King to come and find a place where he can rest.

So dream big!  Don’t shortchange yourself because you don’t have a role model.  Don’t leave your ideas for someone else to act out.  As Frederick Buechner has said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  And my soul aches to live out more and more each day all the things that are on God’s heart that he invites me to partner with him on.

ONWARD!

I am officially an employee with MDC (Making a Difference in Community) of Tacoma! I work at Stadium High School as the College Bound Program Assistant. College Bound exists to empower potential first generation college students and lower income high school students be successful through higher education. I have had an amazing run at Proctor Frozen Yogurt where I’ve met new friends, encountered the Lord and been loved on so well! God really has heard the desires of my heart from big things to little things and has even taught me how to battle in the Spirit during my days serving the wonderful patrons of Proctor District. Never had I imagined a year ago that I would be living in North Tacoma working in Proctor…I don’t think I had even known it existed! But the Lord keeps opening our eyes to more things and changes!

It is my third week working with Stadium High School students and I got my very own parking spot today!! :D Tomorrow we are going on a field trip after school to watch a movie and I am excited to bond with my students outside of the classroom setting. The Lord has given me an opportunity to learn under one of the most amazing teachers and has given me the honor to substitute teach for her while she is out of town. It’s been crazy getting to pray over the classroom to create a peaceful atmosphere and even to speak to them about repentance and overcoming sin even without mentioning the Lord! But that part is hard because my spirit screams that the solution is JESUS!

Even still, there are so many things we get to teach the students as part of College Bound that will build character in the students and in myself and I’m so excited to explore relationship, growth, community, education, and leadership this year! I love seeing potential become reality! I’m working there about 10+ hours a week and continuing to work at City Central Church as the Freedom Immersion Coordinator. There is Marriage Immersion coming up soon as a matter of fact during the weekend of November 7-10, 2013. Thank you for continuing to fight for me and with me in prayer because I definitely can feel it!

If you’d like to partner with me financially, you can give through citycentral.org.

Give –> Missionary Giving –> Anabelle Lee –> $$$      :)

If you would like to send a check, you can mail it to 2522 N. Proctor St. #1
Tacoma WA 98406 (Make it out to City Central Church and write in the notes: Missionary Giving – Anabelle Lee)

A Dependent Citizen of Heaven

Today marks the official Independence Day of South Korea. The word is “gwangbokjeol” which literally translates to “restoration of light day.” At the close of World War II, Korea was finally freed from Japanese colonial rule but officially separated from the North as the United States and the Soviet Union claimed their sides. I feel bitter sweet as I think back on that time in history.

My heart breaks for what happened to Korea under Japanese rule. It breaks for the division of Korea into the North and the South. It breaks for everything in between and for the individuals and families who were oppressed. I can’t fathom the tension between duty and dignity for the comfort women. I can’t grasp the desperation one experiences in a time of war and despair. War will do that. War between man is confusing; it’s dehumanizing; it’s devastating.

I let out a sigh of grief and yet peace as I rest on the truth that our Savior Jesus Christ has waged the final war over our souls. Isaiah 42 speaks of the justice Jesus will bring to all the nations of the earth, which are but a drop of water in a bucket to him. He is so big! He waged war in the heavenlies over the forces of darkness to redeem and rescue the world from evil and from ourselves. It is not independence that heals, but dependence on the God of the universe who cares intimately and deeply for his creation.

I pray that peace and unity will return to the Korean peninsula as the Lord intended it. I pray that violence and fear would be demolished as our Savior comes through for the people of the earth. I pray restoration for every person who has been in or affected by war. I pray that South Korea would turn back to their gospel roots in prayer and repentance towards the Lord. I pray salvation would be released over North Korea. And I pray joy over believers all over the world as we partner with our King in contending for Heaven on earth.

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon HIm; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” Isaiah 42:1