by Rev. Benjamin Chung (鍾立恆牧師)
Today in my birthday. I’m 40 years old. I’m not looking for well wishes, but I’ll accept them! Rather, in reflecting on my age, I am pondering and praying for what God has in store for me as I’m at about the halfway mark of a typical lifespan in the US (not that I’m guaranteed any length of life). You see, yesterday I was 39 and I learned a few facts about this age. Here’s one: my chances of dying due to COVID-19 just doubled today, from 0.02% to 0.04%! More to the point, just before COVID-19, I was in Atlanta for an SBC training seminar to learn about how to help churches in our Association that could be going to difficult issues. On my last day, I was able to visit Martin Luther King Jr.’s memorial and even see the house he grew up in. What a treat! Two weeks later, we had shelter in place (SIP) and then George Floyd’s killing and subsequently protests and riots. Digging more into our country’s past while SIP I learned that even Reverend Billy Graham admitted after the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s that he regretted not doing more regarding race relations. I learned about how many Black families didn’t celebrate Independence Day on July 4 but they celebrated Juneteenth on June 19. Why? Because while America won its independence from England, many Black slaves did not experience true freedom until 1865. I learned that both Malcolm X and MLK were assassinated when they were: 39 years old! Wow!
In the midst of this, I had the blessed privilege to discuss the topic of race relations with many trusted Black pastors and friends. And in a pastor’s gathering over Zoom, where I am one of the only Asian pastors in the conversations, I consider it a responsibility and privilege to share the Asian American perspective of being a “Panda” and the prejudices and persecutions Chinese have experienced in the US. During our discussions, a pastor shared about a book by John Perkins, One Blood, which we all then read. Perkins’ desire is for all people to come together and love one another, knowing that while we might look different on the outside, deep down we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). Furthermore, God does not distinguish between races, but between ethnos which is Greek for nations. Consider this, “’The Bible does not present racial identifiers as indicators of the possession or lack of possession of innate abilities and qualities,’ … only instances where whole people groups are cast negatively in Scripture are when they collectively fail in their obedience to God. It’s not about their ethnicity or nationality but their spiritual integrity” (Perkins, p.49). Lest we forget, Malachi 2:10 says, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” And Acts 17:26 says, “He made from one man every nation of mankind”.
I am thankful to the Lord for the life I’ve lived so far. I am thankful to be a citizen of God’s kingdom and also in our country during this time of unrest regarding “race”. My desire for the second half of my life is to promote unity by the blood of Christ in the body of Christ. And if you’d like to read this book and discuss it, we plan to gather our church members together on Zoom to address the topic of racial reconciliation. Do participate and let me know of your interest!
今天是我的生日。我今年40 歲。我不特意期望人們的祝願，但如果有人給與祝福，我也樂意接受它！在反思自己的年齡時，我正在思考和祈禱上帝為我準備的東西，因為我正處於美國典型壽命的一半左右（並不是我可以保證任何壽命）。您知道，昨天我39 歲，我了解到了這個年齡的一些事實。我今天死於新冠病毒(COVID-19)的機率從0.02％增至0.04％，翻了一倍！更重要的是，就在新冠病毒(COVID-19)之前，我在亞特蘭大參加了美南浸信會(SBC)培訓研討會，以了解如何幫助協會中的教會解決可能遇到的難題。在最後一天，我參觀了馬丁·路德·金
（Martin Luther King Jr.）的紀念館，甚至可以看到他長大的房子。兩週後，我們有了家居庇護令(SIP），然後喬治·弗洛伊德（George Floyd）遭到殺害，隨後發生抗議和騷亂。在家居隔離期間，我更多地了解了美國的過去，我了解到甚至葛培理牧師在60 年代民權運動之後也承認，他後悔沒有為種族關係做更多的事情。我了解到有多少黑人家庭沒有在7 月4 日慶祝獨立日，但卻在6 月19 日慶祝了六月解放節(Juneteenth)(譯者註：美國南部黑人在6 月19 日慶祝被解放）。為什麼？因為當美國從英國獲得獨立時，許多黑人奴隸直到1865 年才經歷真正的自由。我得知麥爾坎(MalcolmX)和馬丁·路德·金都是在39 歲時被暗殺. 哇！
在此期間，我有幸與許多值得信賴的黑人牧師和朋友們討論種族關係的話題。在一次視像Zoom 牧師聚會上，我是出席中唯一的亞裔牧師，我認為我是有責任和權利去分享亞裔美國人對“熊貓”(中國人及其文化）的看法以及中國人在美國所經歷對熊貓(中國人及其文化）的偏見和迫害。在我們的討論中，一位牧師分享了約翰·珀金斯（John Perkins）的一本書《一滴血》（One Blood），然後我們所有人都讀了。珀金斯的願望是所有人團結在一起，彼此相愛，他們知道雖然我們在外表上看起來可能有所不同，但我們內心深處卻是按照上帝的形象造的（創世記1:26）。此外，上帝並沒有區分種族，而只有國家的差異。考慮一下這一點，“'
聖經沒有提供種族標識來表示擁有或缺乏佔有先天能力和素質的指標，'...只有全體人民在聖經中被否定了的情況是他們集體不服從上帝。這與他們的種族或國籍無關，而與他們屬靈的品格有關”（珀金斯，第49 頁）。瑪拉基書2:10 說: “我們豈不都是一位父嗎？豈不是一位上帝所造的嗎?” 使徒行傳17:26 說:“他從一本造出萬族的人”。