This post is a part of a series by Epic’s Field Ministry team, describing what it means to be Epic (a.k.a. to embody the Epic Movement DNA).
Even though Epic Movement is known as an Asian American ministry, often times it’s easy to forget and overlook what it means to be an Asian American ministry. Is Epic Movement simply a ministry comprised of Asian Americans? Or is Epic Movement a ministry that solely seeks to reach and influence Asian Americans? In order to address and answer the question of what it means that Epic Movement is an Asian American ministry, we must seek clarification and understanding of what culture and identity are.
The issues of culture and identity are closely intertwined as they help to define each other. The cultural factors and influences that we resonate with help to establish and form the unique identity and person that we are – and our sense of culture can be found everywhere and in so many different places! While factors such as our ethnicity and racial heritage do make up a significant part of our identity, it is certainly not the only thing that identifies who we are. Within every person (regardless of race or ethnicity), the factors that influence our sense of culture and identity may include things such as our upbringing, families, interests, passions, experiences, special skills, abilities, and areas of growth. Another way to understand culture: if we have a story, then we also have a culture that connects along with it.
While our cultural influences can seem to be cause or reason for division or separation between groups of people, our cultural differences and influences actually help to bring more definition to who we are and clarity to our identity. As an Asian American ministry, Epic Movement is not just a group of Asian Americans who congregate based on the color of their skin or for comfort’s sake. When we are aware of our cultures and identity, it actually allows for more opportunity to share and connect more deeply with one another. Epic Movement is a ministry that acknowledges the rich diversity of cultures represented within the context of Asian American culture and which uses that awareness to serve God’s mission. This awareness of ourselves and others allows for more cooperation, understanding, and healing in our relationships with others. We discover and learn how our ethnicity, culture, and identity impact our faith and life experience so that we can engage well with ourselves and with others.
Key questions to ask in considering how your culture and identity influences your faith, view of God, and evangelism are:
What cultures do you resonate with or that you represent?
How do your cultures impact your identity, personality, and the type of person you are today?
What cultures, people groups, or social groups can you influence and build relationships with because of your shared interests, values, or characteristics?
How can you use your culture to share the Gospel in a way that resonates uniquely and clearly with a specific culture? What culture might that be?
However, it isn’t enough just to be aware of the cultural influences that help define our identity. When we relate with others, our culture and identity act as a channel for the exchange of power. When one person or group has a more significant influence or voice than the other, there is a discrepancy that can harm relationships. We must be aware of how we assert our power and influence along with our purpose in doing so. Are we connecting with love and respect with those outside of our group or cultures? Do we use our cultural factors or influences to build relationships or do we use them to cut off from others and keep others out? It is paramount that we learn to use our influence and power to empower and respect those we’re called to serve and love.
When we grow in awareness of our culture, identity, and stewardship of awareness/power with others, we more effectively reach the heart and the deeper issues of faith, growth, and spirituality with those we minister to. And this is indeed what Epic Movement is about; Epic Movement identifies with the context of Asian American culture to cross cultures and to engage with others on issues of culture, identity, and faith in order to realize the love, grace, and truth that the Gospel and story of Jesus Christ brings to us all.