On Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 4th, several folks gathered on a phone call to talk about the various postings related to the Deadly Viper’s book. The people in the conversation were Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite (Authors), Chris Heuertz (Director, Word Made Flesh), Soong-Chan Rah (Prof., North Park), Kathy Khang (InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Ministries Director), and Eugene Cho (Pastor, Quest Church). The conversation was facilitated by Nikki Toyama-Szeto (Urbana 09 Program Director).
Various people in the conversation share their reflections on that conversation below:
Kathy Khang writes: The conversation didn’t begin until our moderator, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, introduced the individuals at our virtual table and then lead us in prayer. The very act of praying and acknowledging our common need for and desire to seek after God, and hearing Nikki’s voice invite us to the conversation and into God’s presence, reminded me that leadership does not always look, sound or feel the way or come from the places we expect it to. Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite did not expect our voices, our concerns or our leadership when this started with a Facebook status and blog post, but now here we were on a conference call. What I heard were the voices of leaders all committing to begin a conversation that took energy, passion and a common agenda of seeking to start the process of reconciliation. For me, Eugene Cho and Soong-Chan Rah, the conversation is not a new one. But before I could even begin to answer questions about next steps and reconciliation and share even more about our concerns I knew I needed to hear something from both Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. I needed to hear an apology with no if, ands or buts. I heard what I believe many of us wanted and hoped to hear: “We’re sorry. We didn’t know. We want to learn. How do we do that?” And then Mike and Jud listened. We start right there, and we hope to continue.
We, Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite, started a positive conversation with members of the Christian Asian-American community today who have been part of the blog discussion about Deadly Viper and Asian culture. We’ve waited to comment on the situation until now not because we weren’t listening, but because we hoped for a better understanding and for a conversation. Much can be misconstrued in a blog post. We are learning a lot. For one, we deeply offended some members of the Asian-American community who feel like we hijacked their culture for our purposes. We sincerely apologize for this and want to take steps to listen and respond to concerns. We will be removing a video and some content immediately and we’ll talk with our Asian friends to make sure our community embraces all peoples. We are on a learning journey here. Please have grace with us. This was never done intentionally or with any malicious forethought. We each have many Asian friends, some of whom have been part of the Deadly Viper community. We’ve also made some new friends who have shown us kindness. We desire to honor Asian culture and those friendships. We prefer to have these conversations in ways that have more potential to generate light than heat. In that regard, we’ll continue to have conversations about this topic offline, continue to learn and continue to grow.
Soong-Chan Rah writes:
This afternoon I was part of a conversation with the authors of Deadly Viper (and Chris Huertz) and a number of Asian-American leaders. I am thankful that we were able to engage in a direct conversation over what has become a highly charged issue.
I am thankful for the authors’ genuine remorse for the ways that many in the Body of Christ were wounded. The telephone conversation should pave the way for further dialogue and ways to remedy what has been a source of great pain to many, but specifically to the Asian-American community.
I know that the authors have already taken steps by removing offensive material. This action was taken with great sincerity and with a desire to move the process forward. I believe we have taken a very significant step in dealing with a serious issue and believe in the sincerity of the authors to move further along the process of understanding and reconciliation. I ask that they continue along that journey, as difficult as that path might be.
On a very central level, we are brothers and sisters in Christ seeking to understand each other. There are many potential places of misunderstanding in the Body of Christ, but we are united by one Savior and we are part of one Church. Thanks to our brothers who were willing to hear the pain borne by others. Thanks for your commitment to continue on this journey.