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Cross-Cultural Ministries in Canada

Esther Leung-Kong

As a mother of three, part of my journey in finding my voice is that after my 40th birthday I self-published a bilingual children's book titled Wonderfully Made 奇妙的傑作 based on my struggles growing up as an immigrant child trying to fit in. I was born in Hong Kong and at nine years old my family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada (unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh Coast Salish Peoples).

I graduated with a Master's degree in Cross-Cultural Ministries from ACTS Seminaries in 2006. Since then I have been serving in non-profit organizations. My passion includes advocating for justice and compassion through my work at Culture Regeneration Research Society (CRRS) globally and the grassroots charity Vancouver Urban Ministries (VUM) locally. I started Project Shine under CRRS in 2008 where I train and lead teams of young people from North America on volunteer trips to teach English in rural China to under-resourced students. During the pandemic, we have switched to serving inner-city children locally by providing a free summer day camp in the Chinatown area. I raise awareness in the Chinese immigrant community about colonial history and the wrongful treatment of Indigenous people on this land.

Under VUM, I started the Eagle Youth Music School in 2006 to provide free music lessons for inner-city students including Indigenous and immigrant families. We also minister to and cares for the needs of students' families.

Attending the 36th PANAAWTM Annual conference with the theme "Cross-Racial Solidarity and Radical Praxis" was a powerful experience for me as an Asian woman in ministry in a Canadian setting particularly in the city of Vancouver, against the backdrop of being the capital of Anti-Asian hate crime since the pandemic started and recent tragic findings of unmarked burials of Indigenous children in the residential school sites.

I felt really warm just to see the faces of Asian women on the screen. Solidarity and connections matter especially during a time our collective trauma is being triggered. Since the Atlanta shooting in 2021 I’ve been reflecting more about what it means to be an Asian woman in North America. It is a continuing spiritual journey of healing as well as practicing activism with boldness.

The PANAAWTM Conference helped us dive deep as participants shared vulnerability. I appreciate the theme and discussion on what it means to have solidarity cross-culturally. Jessica Wong’s sharing of the plantation mindset and the transgressive nature of the Holy Spirit that pushes us outside of the self-preservation mentality is very insightful. It is encouraging especially for Asian women in ministry who are trying to push the envelope and are deemed “too radical.”

Throughout the conference, I can sense nurturing in all the elements crafted such as incorporating physical movement, meditation, sacred altar, open mic night, workshops, and panel speakers. I thank the labor of the amazing women who started this movement in the 1980s and how much it has blossomed throughout the years.

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