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Silent No More

Reading CT’s October cover story was like reading about my family. How could that be true for a Latina like myself? Asian American Christians have distinct gifts to offer the church, given their bicultural journeys and life experiences, and that resonates with my own story.

As a young Latina minister, I too was navigating similar dynamics, and found friends, mentors, and familia with Asian American Christians. They have been supervisors, mentors, students, peers, and friends. Many of the people referenced in this article were a part of my spiritual journey and significantly shaped who I am as a follower of Christ and a pastor. I learned how to disciple Asian American young adults from Kathy Khang. I learned about finding my voice from Peter Cha in seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Soong-Chan Rah has been a model of lament and hope. Jeanette Yep was involved in my spiritual formation. As I read their comments and many others in Helen Lee’s article, I found myself nodding and “amen”-ing. I am fundamentally a different person because of the Asian American community with which I have had the privilege to live out my faith.

Thank you for using this issue of Christianity Today to explore how the church will embrace the voice and gifts of my friends. My prayer for readers is that they will become curious about what they are missing in their own faith journey if they have not yet encountered the depth, passion, and leadership of Asian American Christians.

Sandra Van Opstal
Associate Pastor, Grace and Peace Community

Problem w/ this month’s @CTmagazine cover: By not showing one whole face it depersonalizes the Asian American. They should’ve just interviewed a key Asian American pastor. Reinforces the “otherness” of Asian Americans in American evangelicalism. Their eyes, nose, chin. So different.

Ronald @raddestnerd

Africans Don’t Read African Christians

You read what’s available. Africans still find more books on the shelves by Western authors than by African ones.

However, that is changing. African publishers are beginning to overcome a historic emphasis on Western titles (often subsidized or even given away for free), and to find and equip homegrown authors. For instance, WordAlive in Kenya and Step in Ghana are publishing gifted African writers. Entrepreneurial self-published authors like Pusonnam Yiri of Nigeria (Storms of the Mind) and Jennifer Karina of Kenya (Marriage Built to Last) are building a following through social media and marketing savvy. Lawrence Darmani’s Grief Child is required reading in freshman English classes in Ghana. Even in war-torn South Sudan, the world’s newest country, efforts are underway to launch a new Christian publishing house and to equip writers for it.

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When more African Christian writers are published, both Africans and readers in the West will benefit.

John Maust
President, Media Associates International
Carol Stream, Illinois

Why ISIS Must Be Stopped

In its editorial focusing on ISIS, CT misunderstands national interest regarding foreign policy and military intervention. ISIS is destabilizing the region, attacking allies, endangering commerce, and committing atrocities against Sunni moderates, Shi’ites, and religious minorities. Further, it seeks to expand as it inspires a global jihad. For those reasons, including the atrocities against Christians, US foreign policy dictates that ISIS must be stopped.

The United Nations, the United States, and a strong coalition of nations have tried to contain the violence. But how does the global coalition defeat an ideology? Radicalized Islam is like the Hydra: it regenerates when it is attacked. For that reason, I do not believe military intervention will stop the threat even if it might supplement a larger strategy.

Global Christian leaders have begged the United States to bring attention to their persecution. Yet what have America and other countries done on behalf of the persecuted church? Ignoring suffering
Christian minorities does not demonstrate the United States’ commitment to human rights, pluralism, or a global climate of religious tolerance.

I affirm that US foreign policy should “plead on behalf of imperiled Christians” and others who suffer from religious persecution.

W. P. Payne
Ashland, Ohio

Open Question

In order to answer “Do the Common Core education standards endanger religious freedom?” allow me to play devil’s advocate. I went to a Christian school. I had a good education but missed a lot of opportunities. Numerous science subjects were omitted, which left students at a serious disadvantage in higher education. Knowing the roots of Leviticus texts did not equip anyone I know for their careers. This time could have been better spent elsewhere.

Free market is preferable, but only when that option truly enhances education.

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Kyle Matthew

People of the Words

Marguerite Shuster’s “People of the Words” was thoughtful. By moving the pulpit to the center, though, the Reformers erred in downplaying the rest. Too often our pulpits no longer preach Christ and him crucified, but rather right theology and behavior. There is a difference between preaching and teaching. And as much as we Protestants try to get rid of altars, they usually end up in our churches, because the altar always reminds us of the place we meet God.

My church’s altar has the whole story of salvation portrayed: It is white, denoting God’s holiness; it’s dominated by the cross, reminding us of God’s love in sending his Son; it has a Bible open and available to every person; and its candles remind us that the light has overcome the darkness.

Russell Rohloff
Bethel, Vermont

Shuster takes aim at pictures, images, and other “visual works” of art, expressing how they dilute and detract from the message of the church. Yet the examples of misused art are film, video, and PowerPoint slides—forms of media that have hardly been around for 100 years. The history of visual arts in the church is much larger and broader than that.

I am similarly bothered by the idea that pictures and images can’t communicate the deepest truths of the Christian faith. What about the greatest example of “visual art”—the witness of Creation? The Scriptures (not least of all, the Psalms) are written by those who believed that the created order communicates the goodness, faithfulness, and grace of God, all without words. Even Paul believed God has revealed himself not through words but through things he has made (Rom. 1: 20).

Jesse Nelson
Los Angeles

The Unlikely Innovator

As Paul Glader’s article shows, it is apparent that online education is a profitable business enterprise. However, pursuit of a college degree in this manner is not without a downside. In the fall of 1956, I was a freshman student at Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri. Traveling from my home in Pennsylvania to Missouri was, indeed, an experience to remember. Unlike in online education, it was my privilege to meet, in person, students from all over the country and world.

Being on campus allowed for this special experience, one cherished to this day. I would suggest that a purely online college experience cannot replicate this on-campus opportunity.

Tim Berquist
Camden, New York

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Net Gain

“My hope is that people will not allow Satan to trick them into thinking that Pastor Mark’s ministry was in vain. We must recognize God’s sovereignty and realize even this has a place in his plan. I am hopeful that Jesus will turn these ashes into beauty.”
G Andrew Beresford, Facebook.
“Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill,” by Kate Shellnutt and Morgan Lee.

“This spoke to me in so many ways. Showing love even when you feel insulted and disrespected is not easy, but that’s what it is to have the love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ashley LoxAnn Cornish, Facebook.
Third Culture: “What Not to Say to a Dad With Four Kids,” by Peter Chin.

“Thanks for taking a stand. Your negative reviews are never just snark-laden diatribes, which is what passes for a review these days, but thoughtful, probing, honest critiques.”
Dave Wilkie, CT online comment.
Watch This Way: “Some Final Notes on Left Behind,” by Alissa Wilkinson.

“We need both a Radical call such as David Platt’s and the Michael Horton Ordinary approach. It is like getting a wakeup call and then, once you are awake, a grow-up call. I thank God for these men who reach the body of Christ in such divisive times.”
Laurie Carr, Facebook.
“Stay Put and Build,” by Phillip Cary.

“Humor can be a great tool in dismantling stereotypes, but it is tricky and maybe doesn’t always get the point across. Your analysis is really helpful in thinking about why that is.”
Hannah N., CT online comment.
Her.meneutics: “What Does It Mean to Be Black-ish?” by Christena Cleveland.

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