Epic Movement’s Response to Recent Events in Jan 2023
January 28th, 2023
This week, our community suffered devastating and tragic losses. When our celebration and joy should have been at a peak, we find ourselves once again reeling from tragedy. As a community, we face a terrible bind: to put together words in the midst of our grief feels gut-wrenching yet we know that few will speak out if we do not.
Epic joins other Asian American communities and organizations in lamenting the devastating shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. We pray for the victims, families, witnesses and all who were directly impacted by these acts of violence. In addition, we feel acutely how this affects our entire community and only adds to the trauma and fatigue of the past several years.
We grieve that acts of violence have become so frequent, that racialized attacks on our community are frequently ignored and the enormous weight that this puts on us all. As individuals and leaders, we resonate with what one student shared after the racist, violent incident at Indiana University,
“It’s very tiring for the Asian community to be doing all the work,” Audrey Lee, a senior, said. “I think a lot of Asian Americans internalize the feeling that if they do kind of speak out, when these situations happen, they’re going to be viewed as crazy or overreacting.”
To speak out is emotionally costly, but so is staying silent. By lifting our voices, we affirm our own dignity and humanity as God’s image bearers and we join in speaking truth and love into the world. Some Christian communities communicate (intentionally or unintentionally) that spiritual maturity produces a kind of emotional flatness. Epic rejects that and acknowledges that we were created as emotional beings. It is impossible to hear of these acts and not be impacted by them, even if that impact is different for each of us. We will not shame ourselves for feeling grief, outrage, terror and even loneliness as we watch incidents go unacknowledged. Our Christian faith gives us a foundation of hope and comfort to cling to, but does not erase the pain of these incidents.
We encourage Epic staff, students and our larger community to take time and space to honor emotions that arise. For some, the grief process may be helped by a movement to action, such as signing up for bystander intervention training, joining anti-Asian hate statements, or reaching out to your university officials. For others, there may be more time and space needed to move through initial feelings of shock and numbness. Lighting a candle, journaling, engaging in movement or listening to music can help when emotions feel difficult to access. Bringing our honest feelings to God, as in writing a Psalm of lament or disorientation, can also be helpful for our community of faith. We all need community in this time and we might turn to other help such as spiritual direction, therapy or hosted community processing times. For those with the resources, you may consider donating to the victims of recent shootings. May we each find places of comfort, and may we create those spaces for others.
Epic Movement Response to the Recent Shootings in Atlanta
March 25th, 2021
We, the Epic Movement, mourn and lament the tragic events in Atlanta on March 16th, 2021, in which eight people were murdered; six of them were Asian American women. They were image-bearers of God, whose lives were connected to generations of people who loved them.
We grieve over this specific event and other Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate crimes that are occurring all over the country. These crimes have been on the heels of a year of drastic spikes* in Anti-Asian xenophobic attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, AAPI women* are twice as likely to be victims of hate crimes than men.
We also acknowledge the fact that the alleged shooter was a professed Christian who had a penchant for “guns and God”, claimed a struggle with sex addiction, and set out to kill these Asian women to “eliminate temptation.”* This incident demonstrates the interconnectedness that the role of the American Church can play in racism, sexism, and sexualization of Asian women that has been present throughout history.* We, as followers of Jesus, decry the shooter’s murder, hatred, and abuse toward Asian women in the name of this misguided pursuit. In the Bible, Jesus honors women and teaches us to value every person’s dignity created in his image (Jn. 4; Lk. 7).
This horrible incident isn’t a singular event; it is a continuation of a long-standing history that has plagued the AAPI community. The complexity of racism permeates the fabric of our society. Racism and hatred is even causing disunity within our diverse AAPI communities. As a result, we as AAPI’s are experiencing polarization, which has left our communities divided.
Now more than ever, we look to Jesus to be near as our comforter in times of brokenness and fear. The Gospel is good news to a world broken by racial injustices and hostility. We pray that our AAPI communities will continue to listen to one another with empathy and compassion to work toward truth and justice.
Will you cry out to the Lord with us? We ask that you pray for the AAPI community to run with strength toward God. We ask that you pray for the families who the AAPI hate crimes have impacted, that they would be able to experience God as they grieve and mourn.
To our AAPI family, let’s pray for continued unity among our diverse communities. To our allies and friends, will you pray and join us to continue to bring the peace of the Gospel to a racialized world? May we all become instruments of reconciliation for the “breaking down of walls of hostility” between peoples (Eph. 2:14), to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) who in the words of the prophet Isaiah are known as “repairers of the breach” and “restorers of streets to live in” (Is. 58:12).
We lament, and we cry out to you. Be with these families hurt by racism. We mourn for the eight lives that were lost, including the six who were Asian American women*:
Soon Chung Park
Hyun Jung Grant
Yong Ae Yue
Delaina Ashley Yaun
Paul Andre Michels
Lord, we grieve over innocent lives lost. These women were mothers, sisters, daughters, aunties, grandmothers, and friends. Comfort and provide* for the families of these victims. Bring healing and peace to their souls.
Even amid tragedy and sadness, we find strength in your sovereignty and providence.
We take comfort in your knowledge and desire for justice, mercy, and peace.
You know our pain and you understand our anger.
Above all, you are our Rock and our Salvation.
We confess that there have been times we’ve been silent in the face of injustice when we’ve turned a blind eye toward suffering and brokenness.
Your word convicts* us, revealing to us that inaction is just as sinful as the wrong actions.
You’ve created us each precious and beautiful in your likeness.
Your image is in every person and in every race.
Too often do we fail to recognize your image in all.
Open our eyes to distinguish good from evil.
Make us hunger and thirst for righteousness so that we might see our need for Jesus.
Nourish us with your goodness and help us live out your ways of the kingdom here on earth.
Give us the conviction to take on the work of peace-making.
Remove the dividing walls of hostility and be our peace.
As we pray for abounding love for others,
start with us.
We pray to you, because you are our hope and the assurance that one day we will no longer lament and grieve in tragedies, but will rejoice and praise for all eternity.
In the name of Jesus we pray,
For those who desire to process, lament and pray, we offer you a space to do that with us on Friday, March 26, 2021 at 1pm PT / 4pm ET. If you are interested in attending please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Epic Movement Director
*Peffer, George Anthony. “Forbidden Families: Emigration Experiences of Chinese Women under the Page Law, 1875-1882”. Journal of American Ethnic History. 6 (1): 28.
Epic’s Response to the events at the Capitol building
January 15, 2021
We, the Epic Movement, grieve, mourn, and denounce the events that took place at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. We acknowledge this is a delayed response as we have been processing and lamenting this traumatic event. It was not only an attack on our democracy, it was also an affront to the name of Christ as Christian banners and paraphernalia were paraded throughout the Capitol. Along with these Christian symbols, confederate flags and anti-semitic apparel were flashed around freely in the Capitol. These disturbing images reveal the continual racial and political divide that exists in our country.
This insurrection frothed with racial, political and religious undertones induced deaths, injuries and trauma to our country. We as Christ followers declare that this is not Christianity. Our faith does not practice terrorism, racism, white nationalism, or following lies. Our spirituality demands us to shine a light on these evils as well as continue our commitment to be repairers or restorers of broken walls and to live out our calling as the ministers of reconciliation (Isaiah 58 & 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). As believers, we desire to share Christ’s radical love even as our witness is tainted by our own actions or lack of actions. We acknowledge that Christians throughout history have not been perfect, nor are we.While we abhor racism and extremist nationalism, we acknowledge that we too can conflate our own political views and desires for control due to change or our own desires for personal or political gain, oftentimes at the cost of others. We too can desire or demand so strongly our rights for ourselves while we fail to respect the dignity and the rights of others and especially those communities in the margins. We exhort each of us to continue with our allegiance to Jesus’ teachings to call us to forgiveness, standing for the oppressed, being slow to anger, mourning with those who hurt, loving God’s truth, and spurring one another to love and good deeds.
January 6, 2021 was a horrific day in our American history. It was also the Day of Epiphany in the Christian liturgical calendar, which celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the magi or wise men from far away countries who were searching for the truth and light of God. These wise men followed the light of the Bethlehem star and found Christ. On this day evermore, may we reclaim this traumatic day as a day of remembrance of our recommitment to live our lives daily to reflect the light of Christ to our diverse and broken world. May we guide people towards the love and light of Christ through our allegiance to Him first and foremost and not to lesser things such as our democracy, structures that hinder marginalized communities or our political parties. May we be a part of the solution to bring healing to our fragmented world through Christ our Lord. We in the Epic Movement affirm anew our resolve to surrender our lives and ministry to Christ alone; we renew our commitment to the ministry of reconciling people to God and to other people. May we live out His true light doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Christ invites you to do the same.
Epic’s Statement of Solidarity
“Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.”
June 2, 2020
As believers in Christ, we must be unflinchingly committed to the flourishing of all of God’s creation. We will not refuse to see the plight of another simply because it is not our plight. (Proverbs 31:8-9) In Epic, we express our belief in the interdependence of God’s creation by standing in solidarity with those whose position is one of vulnerability. We choose to take on the cares of our brothers and sisters and share those concerns when we enter places of influence or change. (Micah 6:8)
Several weeks ago, Epic leaders helped draft a statement against anti-Asian racism which was heightened by COVID-19. Now, we have watched as black Americans like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have lost their lives due to racial violence. We condemn this racism and the ways our country has failed to affirm the worth of Black lives. (Proverbs 17:15) Seeing images of an Asian American police officer standing nearby fills us with anguish and, for some, confusion and deepens our commitment to every Asian American student. We work so that students and faculty who are involved in the Epic Movement experience holistic transformation as they yield their lives to the God of love and the God of justice, thus becoming agents of peace and unity in this broken & polarizing world.
For any of us, particularly for those of us who might be seeing the pervasive nature of racism for the first time, our bodies and minds can struggle to process what we see as we watch violent incident after violent incident. The pain and the resulting anguish it produces in us can be motivation to turn away, or to look for an underlying cause beyond our country’s history of oppression. Instead of turning away or becoming frozen in inaction, we want to turn our hearts toward the Lord and to pray for God’s spirit of perfect justice to indwell us and our communities. (Isaiah 58:6-9) In order to be committed to antiracist thought and action, we have to be supported by a strong spiritual base. Without taking time to cultivate our connection to God’s indwelling Spirit, our commitment will fade and we will be sapped of strength, rather than renewed.
Martin Luther King Jr. observed the way that God created human beings to be interdependent when he wrote,
“In a real sense all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
We in Epic commit to working for a world where all people are honored as image bearers, and we acknowledge that our hope is ultimately found only in Jesus Christ, God’s perfect bearer of truth and justice.
Epic Movement’s Response to Coronavirus
Dear Epic students, staff, and friends,
It is surreal watching the events of the last few months unfold around the world due to COVID-19. Every 12 hours more things change and more realities are imposed upon us. This past week, I have had such a range of emotions and thoughts as I process the effects of COVID-19 on our personal lives and our ministry. Epic Movement is in the midst of sorting through how we ought to respond as campus ministers.
Students and staff are grieving the loss of graduations, the pain of racism connected to COVID-19, and the uncertainty of existing plans. We are committed to encouraging all of us to seek the Lord as we learn a new way to minister to our students, faculty, and communities.
Prioritizing Spiritual and Emotional Connection
As Epic, we prioritize staying emotionally and spiritually connected to one another during this time of physical separation. We encourage all of us to adopt spiritual practices such as Christ-focused meditation, prayer and/or fasting, which many people have found helpful during times of unusual stress. Our staff are also praying for family members, students, alumni, and ministry partners. If you have a prayer request you’d like to share with our staff, you can submit it here.
Adjusting to the New Ministry Environment
We want to share that love and light of Christ through this critical time in history. More than ever, people need the hope that Jesus gives us and Epic is committed to continuing to share that hope with others in new and creative ways.
As universities move away from in-person gatherings, our teams are still building community and connecting their peers and friends to Jesus. One of our staff led a bible study via google docs (a real-time collaborative writing platform). They noted that some students were sharing insightful things that they normally would not share in a live setting. Others are focused on connecting via social media and even video games. Epic Movement is continuing to provide coaching and resources to help navigate this new season.
Making Difficult Decisions
Given how connected our Asian American communities are, we in Epic have to make decisions that will ensure that we are thinking about ministry for the long-haul, as well as practicing care for our families and neighbors.
Following governmental guidelines to help “flatten the curve,” Epic and Cru have canceled all large gatherings including all of our spring break trips, summer missions, and training conferences. Other events are postponed or have gone online. As you can imagine, this significantly changes the trajectory of all of our ministry worldwide. (Keep an eye out for further communication regarding the changes for our Epic National Vision Dinner and other events!)
We implore you to join us in lament, prayer, and seeking the Lord as this unprecedented time will have ramifications for Epic Movement for years to come. Pray that we can process this new reality well as a community and for the Gospel to go forth in our ministry in powerful new ways.
Epic Movement National Director
Psalm 121: A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.