The Deadly Viper Conversation: 'We're sorry. We didn't know. We want to learn. How do we do that?'

By Soong-Chan Rah 11-05-2009

Wednesday afternoon I was part of a conversation with the authors of Deadly Viper (and Chris Huertz) and a number of Asian-American leaders. I am thankful that we were able to engage in a direct conversation over what has become a highly charged issue.

I am thankful for the authors' genuine remorse for the ways that many in the body of Christ were wounded. The telephone conversation should pave the way for further dialogue and ways to remedy what has been a source of great pain to many, but specifically to the Asian-American community.

I know that the authors have already taken steps by removing offensive material. This action was taken with great sincerity and with a desire to move the process forward. I believe we have taken a very significant step in dealing with a serious issue, and I believe in the sincerity of the authors to move further along the process of understanding and reconciliation. I ask that they continue along that journey, as difficult as that path might be.

On a very central level, we are brothers and sisters in Christ seeking to understand each other. There are many potential places of misunderstanding in the body of Christ, but we are united by one Savior and we are part of one Church. Thanks to our brothers who were willing to hear the pain borne by others. Thanks for your commitment to continue on this journey.

Various people in the conversation share their reflections on that conversation below:

Kathy Khang writes: The conversation didn't begin until our moderator, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, introduced the individuals at our virtual table and then lead us in prayer. The very act of praying and acknowledging our common need for and desire to seek after God, and hearing Nikki's voice invite us to the conversation and into God's presence, reminded me that leadership does not always look, sound, or feel the way or come from the places we expect it to. Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite did not expect our voices, our concerns, or our leadership when this started with a Facebook status and blog post, but now here we were on a conference call. What I heard were the voices of leaders all committing to begin a conversation that took energy, passion, and a common agenda of seeking to start the process of reconciliation. For me, Eugene Cho, and Soong-Chan Rah, the conversation is not a new one. But before I could even begin to answer questions about next steps and reconciliation and share even more about our concerns, I knew I needed to hear something from both Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. I needed to hear an apology with no ifs, ands or buts. I heard what I believe many of us wanted and hoped to hear: "We're sorry. We didn't know. We want to learn. How do we do that?" And then Mike and Jud listened. We start right there, and we hope to continue.

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