taking the words of Jesus seriously


I don’t know about you but this year is turning out to be a discouraging, deadly year.  I am afraid to turn on the news, read a newspaper, or look at my Twitter feed.


In July, I opted to watch the Republican National Convention. Strange as it may sound, it was a spiritual discipline to watch and listen. Speakers talked with nostalgia about an America I have never known nor am I familiar with. It was challenging to sit and listen and not roll my eyes at every other phrase or promise of success. It was particularly difficult to listen to people who claimed the same faith as I have in Jesus and hear them paint a reality that seems very different than mine.


Listening is one way everyone, but particularly my dear white readers, can begin the very hard and good work of dismantling privilege. Listening requires we shut our own mouths and the internal commentary long enough to allow the words, stories, and heart of someone else be the vessel of the Spirit to identify prejudices, biases, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia in our hearts.


Listening is an act of loving submission and partnership, a ceasing of my mouth to allow another person space to verbally communicate and express whatever it is that needs to spoken, yelled, or ugly cried between the two or more of us present.


As a Korean American woman I learned as a little girl my place in the world was the listen. To speak only when spoken to. To stay silent and stay out of trouble. I spent a lot of time listening to the world around me, which to this day is so often comprised of white men and women. Their stories, their words, their interpretations of life and scripture became the norm and everything else became secondary and optional.


And as I listened last month I heard many white men and women who are afraid that no one is listening to them anymore. That sharing space and power means losing. I heard people who have been so accustomed to being the only voice screaming louder and louder in hopes of remaining the only voice.


So my dear readers, listen. If you are truly looking to dismantle privilege (that elusive white privilege some are screaming doesn’t exist but their screaming about loss and fear and destruction begs otherwise), listen. Listen to those of us who are not surprised it has come to this. Listen to those of us who have been trying to tell you that racism is alive and well and never died. Listen to some of the political speeches for the code switching. Listen to the screaming and yelling about building walls and past greatness.


What do you hear?


About The Author


Kathy Khang’s initial four-year commitment to serve
college students with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
is now on year 18 as she looks for opportunities to learn
from, partner with, and reach out to student development
and student affairs professionals as well as address issues
and opportunities related to campus access. During her
almost two decades with IVCF Kathy oversaw multiethnic
training and ministry development for staff and students in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin as well as spending 10 of those years as the campus staff for the Asian American InterVarsity chapter and then as the area director overseeing undergraduate ministry at Northwestern University. An alumna of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Kathy worked as a newspaper reporter in Green Bay and Milwaukee, WI before going on staff with InterVarsity. She is a columnist for The Covenant Companion, the Evangelical Covenant Church magazine. She also co-authored More Than Serving Tea (IVP, 2006) – a one-of-a- kind book exploring faith, gender, culture, and ethnic identity from the distinct perspective of Asian American Christian women.

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