Facilitated by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and Dr. Daniel Carroll Rodas, the Public and Local Witness Track brought their collective knowledge and love for Scripture, ministry experiences, and personal stories to the lively table. They also brought their humor and personalities, creating a sense of family as they discussed difficult topics, such as stereotypes of Latinos and Asian Americans used in the media and perpetuated in work places and the church. They spent three days discussing who their communities are, the theological impetus to work together as visible witnesses, and what some of those partnerships might look like.
Two particular conversations were discussed as participants began bringing conclusions together on day three of the consultation. First, they addressed the too oft false split between evangelism or witness and doing justice. The difficult realities caused by identity crises, workplace discrimination, and immigration policy debate press on HANA communities in a way that predominantly middle and upper middle class white church members rarely if ever experience. To proclaim the good news of abundant life in Jesus Christ without accompanying change that makes gospel-centered abundance possible is for HANA communities a truncated witness. Simple things like the ability to apply for a driver’s license for undocumented Latinos or holding a job in a corporate office without the stereotypical pressure to comply and excel as a “model minority” Asian American make separating evangelism and justice impossible. So, participants brought both of their communities realities to the table as they discussed what it would mean to witness to Christ’s Lordship over not only souls but bodies and systems of power as well.
Additionally, they discussed the difficulty experienced in the states when many conversations around race, ethnicity, and reconciliation in the church center around the poles of black and white Americans. Too often conversations about witness and reconciliation get stuck in conversations about the historical racial brokenness experienced between slave-holding white Americans and enslaved black Americans. While so much work remains to be touched between this two groups in the states, especially in churches, the HANA communities change and expand the categories, poles, and conversations and actions necessary to proclaim Christ together. Yet, within HANA communities, stereotypes of one another make partnership difficult as well. The track discussed how to address these stereotypes within their communities and how to create more spaces for relationships and friendships to be developed.
Look forward to their chapter in the book forthcoming from this consultation for more expanded theological discussion and ideas on how to partner together for the sake of the Kingdom of God.