CAC Digest #10

CAC Digest #10 covers Sept. 3, 1996

Dear CACers (and others – whose addresses I’ve added to sample the CAC-list):

It is exciting to see the responses to this discussion list over the past
month. I anticipate more responses to Jeanette Yep’s remarks – thanks for
letting me play “Devil’s Advocate.” I’m now reading Yen Le Espiritu’s
_Asian American Panethnicity_, which should provide more food for the fodder
on this issue.

I also appreciated the article that Greg Jao provided for us. I’ll give a
more detailed response later to the question of Asian Americans who do not
support Affirmative Action. But for now, I recommend Dana Tagaki’s study
_Retreat From Race_ which examines the Asian American struggle against
discrimination in the admission policies of Ivy League Schools and UC Berkley
in the 1980s. Tagaki’s book demonstrates that affirmative action policies
and discrimination against Asian Americans are two distinct issues which have
been blurred by neo-conservative advocates, leading to the impression that
affirmative action discriminates against Asians and Whites.

I’d like to turn the management of the list over to the automated server by
Friday, Sept. 6. So, unless there are any changes, beginning this Friday,
please send all your messages to “” and everyone on this
distribution list will receive your transmission automatically and almost
immediately (this way, you don’t have to wait for me to re-send it to

Re: the name. Here’s my suggestion. For convenience sake, I’d like to keep
the name of the list “CAC-list” for now. As most of you are aware, our
conversations have almost never focused exclusively on Chinese churches,
anyway. So, I encourage everyone to add more persons, particularly
non-Chinese persons, to the list. Please explain that this list is moving
into a Pan-Asian direction and will likely change its name shortly. You may
add persons by giving their e-mail address to DJ Chuang
As soon as the list is up, there will be simpler
ways to subscribe individuals to this list.

Anyway, here’s a digest of additional messages (I’m sure you’ve all received
Sam Ling’s response to Jeanette Yep – if not, let me know). Happy reading!

Tim Tseng


{1} From Melanie Mar Chow

Date: Tue, Sep 3, 1996 12:55* EDT
From: MChowAACF
Subj: Re: CAC Digest #9
To: TSTseng


Just wanted to thank you for all the “CAC think-tank stuff” coming my way on
e-mail. I appreciate how you are raising my political awareness beyond my
limited sphere.

I agree with Jeanette’s points and also your response to her…I’m one of
those people who are on this CAC list because it is somewhere to
begin…though I’m not one to have always been Asian-culture specific
(Chinese-American, Japanese-American) because of my tri-cultural background
(Japanese-Chinese-American). Because of this, I live out my ministry in a
more pan-Asian bent as the lingo goes. That doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize
with the Asian-culture specific concerns. One of my hopes is that someone
will begin a list to distribute pan-Asian topics, however, via your list Tim,
I’ve been brought aware of many things that are related to Asian Americans.
(Thanks for the Busto and Helen Lee’s articles…I’m still processing them,
but as a campus minister, I will have some thoughts – later for those.)

I too wonder who is on this CAC list and their ministry focuses since I only
see e-mail addresses. I recognize some, but others not. My one suggestion –
maybe it’s time for a CAC digest with a one-line update on each on the list.

Like Jeanette, my response is probably going to be transmitted everywhere, so
here is my intro: Melanie Mar Chow, currently serving in the area of Staff
Leadership Development and Training for JEMS’ Asian American Christian
Fellowship (AACF). Born in Seattle, attended Chinese Baptist and Japanese
Presby churches; moved to LA and as a parachurch person, have been involved
in a Japanese American church (3 yrs), a Chinese American church (8 yrs), and
now as a member of Evergreen Baptist Church (4 yrs). As a minister to Asian
American college students/campus ministers with AACF for 10 years, and while
at Fuller Seminary, working with a small team of Asian American Christians, I
continue to ponder what defines an Asian American ministry.

{2} From Fenggang Yang

Subj: Re: CAC Digest #9
Date: Tue, Sep 3, 1996 2:33* EDT

Hi, Tim and every one,

I thought CAC would have been up on the listserv by now. I haven’t tried.

I want to add my 2 cents ideas about the scope of the list too. I think that
while a list limited to ABC ministry is too norrow, a list of AAs is too
broad. I prefer a list of Chinese American Christians.

Why is ABC ministry too narrow: again, there are not many Chinese churches
in the United States. In 1994 Ambassadors for Christ counted only less than
700 churches in the US. Even if we add those which were omited and those
established in the last two years the number may not be more than 1000. More
importantly, based on my personal observations, I see a majority of Chinese
churches in the U.S. are still numerically dominated by OBCs, and ABC
ministry is often only a part of the Chinese church. Without a good
understanding of the OBCs it will be difficult to do ABC ministries. I
understand that ABCs very much want autonomy or independence. However, their
relationships with OBCs are just too important for them to ignore. If my
info is correct, Dr. Samuel Ling once planted a church initially intending
for ABCs only, but later changed to a church receiving many OBCs as well. As
long as you label the church as “Chinese,” all Chinese will come to visit
and join, although the understanding of “Chineseness” can be very different.
Therefore, it’s better to include all Chinese Christians.

Why is AA ministry too broad: First, the ethnic cultures of so called “Asian
Americans” are quite distinctive. Second, the immigration experiences of
Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans have been quite different. While most of
Japanese Americans today are more likely third- or forth- generation persons,
the majority of Chinese in America are OBCs. Most Koreans are recent
immigrants in the last three decades. Third, their religious beliefs and
practices may vary to a great extent. For example, more than half Korean
immigrants were Christians upon arriving in the US, and another 25% joined a
Korean church after immigration. With about 75% Koreans as Christians,
Korean churches face the problem of church growth–not many Koreans left for
evangelism. Sociologically speaking, 75% is probably a maximum in the
religious economy, a free market with many competing religions in the United
States. Therefore, they have to open their church more for non-Koreans if
they want to continue to grow. However, only a small proportion of Chinese
immigrants were Christians. The majority of Chinese Christians are adult
converts who converted in the United States, I believe. The proportion of
Christians among Chinese in the US are only between 5 or 7% (Samule Ling’s
estimates) and 32% (according to a survey of Asian Americans in Chicago). To
me, it is just natural that Chinese churches focus their evangelistic
missions to ethnic Chinese. What is more important is that Chinese people
are very heterogeneous rather than homogeneous. They speak many dialects
mutually unintelligible, have distinctive subcultures, and also have very
different social-political backgrounds. Chinese unity out of Chinese
diversity is already a hard goal to achieve. There are plenty of problems
and distinctive concerns for Chinese Christian ministries at this historical
period. Therefore, I think we need to limit to Chinese Christians rather
than expand to include all AAs for now.

This is getting too long. I’ll stop here.
Fenggang Yang