This post is part of Mennonite Church USA’s #BeTransformed series.
Sue Park-Hur is the denominational minister for Transformative Peacemaking for Mennonite Church USA, overseeing the peace and justice related issues. She also supervises Women in Leadership. Park-Hur co-directs ReconciliAsian, a peace center in Los Angeles specializing in conflict transformation and restorative justice for immigrant churches. A former co-lead pastor and co-church planter, her passion is to see the church living out the shalom of the gospel. Park-Hur is trained in Intercultural Development Inventory and is a Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) practitioner. She has a graduate degree in Christian Formation and Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College in Illinois and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Asian American Studies from UCLA in California. She attends Pasadena Mennonite Church in Pasadena, California.
When I think about my favorite stories in the Bible, I find that they are about unlikely encounters that transform lives. A slave woman encounters an angel in the desert. A bleeding woman in a crowd meets a healer on another assignment. Mourners run into a stranger on the road. A Jewish fisherman meets a Roman centurion in his home.
When I think about my life and consider the most transformative moments, I find that they were with people who were very different from me. Mike Martin of RAWtools introduced me to a white evangelical Christian man who inherited a gun that his father received as a “war trophy” for serving in the Korean War. I told him that my father had suffered PTSD from the Korean War and my family had lived with the psychological and emotional impact of his trauma from war. We talked deeply and honestly about what we have inherited and what we want to pass down to our children.
Through Mennonite Central Committee’s cosponsored Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia, I met a Japanese Jesuit priest. We stood in front of the comfort woman statue in Glendale, California, to reckon with the history of colonialism and war. We talked about the need for courageous truth telling about history and true repentance that can carve paths to forgiveness and reconciliation.
During the pandemic, I have met with Black and Asian American Pacific Islander leaders through Roots of Justice and ReconciliAsian to talk about how racism has affected us differently. We named the wounds we have inflicted on one another from internalized racism, but it was also clear that we sought solidarity and mutual learning that can lead to healing.
Unlikely encounters have often led to mutual transformation. That is the gift that the Holy Spirit invites us to, crossing cultures and engaging the other, so our eyes can see more clearly and expansively the restorative vision God has for the world.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog belong to the author and are not intended to represent the views of the MC USA Executive Board or staff.