A Movement Begins
Students in Arizona launch a new ministry.
Daniel Ha’s older sister had been involved in Cru’s Epic Movement, and he wanted the Asian American ministry on his campus as well.
Yet when Daniel began attending the University of Arizona in the fall of 2012, there was no Epic Movement on campus. So Daniel emailed Chris Warren, leader of the local Cru movement, communicating his interest in starting Epic on campus. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen,” Daniel recalls, “I was just testing out the waters.” There were no Epic staff members in Tucson so Daniel knew the ministry would be completely student-led, making it more difficult to launch in the first place.
But 15 minutes later when Daniel received an email back from Chris, he had a different attitude. He learned that Cindy Yalda from Cru’s Ethnic Student Ministry was flying into Tucson that very night for a meeting and wanted to talk about the possibility of starting Epic at U of A. “The staff members at ESM had been praying about it for a long time,” Daniel said. “The timing was ridiculous.”
After the meeting with Cindy, Chris connected Daniel with two students from the regular Cru ministry who attended an Epic conference the prior year, Brittany and Vicki. They were interested in starting a movement. Daniel also gathered a few other friends who seemed interested. “I met up with each of them individually just to see where their interest was and that they understood vision and mission,” he says. “To make sure they really wanted to help start Epic and saw the need for it.”
Having a unique ministry for Asian Americans was important to this small group of believers. “I’m Asian American,” says Daniel, “which means I’m not Asian and I’m not American. I’m somewhat in between. I’m not fully submerged into my parent’s Asian culture and not fully submerged into the American culture. I’d say a lot of Asian American’s don’t understand that. A lot of us are confused. Knowing that and understanding my identity in the culture and my society helped me to understand I can use my identity of being Asian American to share the gospel with others. I can relate with another person like me more than someone who isn’t.”
The group began meeting once a week in mid-September.
Daniel also met with Chris regularly, and Chris coached him in his initial plans to start Epic. Later in the fall, Tom Virtue, a staff member with Epic in California connected with Daniel on Skype to help coach him through the beginnings of starting a new movement on campus. He went through some discipleship material with Daniel and prayed with him. “Tom really put a lot of time into helping me understand Epic as an organization so I could launch it well,” Daniel says.
The Asian American community is not large on campus, so finding committed leaders was challenging. “Trying to find Christians, much less Asian American Christians was like trying to pick out grains of rice in a sand dune,” Daniel says. Fortunately Vicki and Brittany were well connected with friends in Phoenix and at their church. They began spreading word and inviting people to the meetings.
There was some drama and heartbreak when a few leaders dropped out. Daniel was worried when numbers were decreasing. “I kept asking God how it was gonna work out,” he says. “I was frustrated with God, honestly. I kept thinking, This is happening but why? It was a relief when we finally became an official ministry and recognized club on campus at the University of Arizona.”
When the group had gathered 6 committed leaders, their first official meeting as Epic was held on January 15, 2013. About 2 weeks later, they became an official club on campus. “That was a good day,” Daniel says. “It was a lot of hard work from August up until that point.”
“Chris has been extremely helpful,” Daniel says. “He walked me through the strategic planning process. That was big. He told me to set goals, even if they seem ridiculous. And then try to get them. And so we did. We’ve actually achieved some of them.”
The group now has weekly meetings, small group meetings for men and women and a monthly gathering called Family Group. Epic as a ministry is going well.
“We eat together, play games together and get into the Word together,” Daniel says. “Brittany, Vicki and I came up with an intentional prayer for Epic: Create a pure and encouraging, Christ-centered community.
“For me, I have to remember that the ministry isn’t mine. It’s God’s ministry. Even looking back to August, seeing God move and be active in our plans, helps me to know even more that it’s His.”