16 May, 2011

The Faith Entry: Wherever I Travel, There's God 2005-Present

Southern California.

My treks back and forth from the SF Bay Area to the LA Area are as regular as my trips to Southeast Asia. From the time I re-committed to church in 1995 to 2006, I'd rotate church visits between the sponsoring Salvation Army Corps and Evergreen Baptist Church. Very little information has been revealed in regards to those visits. From 2006 until recent I'd often attend one of the Mosaic gatherings.

When I was training at the actor's intensive in the LA Area during the summer of 1999, I was a regular at Evergreen Baptist Church. During one of their Wednesday night young adults single fellowship, the topic was on dating. Evergreen is a church where the demographic was close to 80% East Asian descent. During that discussion, their keynote speaker was a PhD psychologist/therapist who was sharing her data on why it was important for Asian American Christian women to date and marry someone not of Asian descent. Some of her observations:

Asians refused to get "real help" and therefore perpetuate more dysfunctional family patterns than the average American family.

In order to progress as a "true Christian," one must learn to let go of traditional patterns that hinder growth. That's especially true for Asian culture

How it was "God's will" that her soulmate and husband was not Asian.

I'm sitting here listening to all this and observed how people present were just taking it all in because of this lady's supposed "credentials and expertise." I learned that the actual topic for that evening wasn't so much "Dating," but "Interracial Dating." So different people voiced their opinion throughout the evening, sometimes heatedly. At one point, I objected saying why is the discussion merely focused on Caucasian males-Asian females dynamics and nothing else was discussed to which one of the replies from one of the female guest was "no one finds you Asian guys attractive, that's why." To their surprise, when asked who was or is currently in an interracial relationship I raised my hand. The same lady who made the other comment asked me if I was really in a relationship with a Caucasian female, and I pointed out that the problem with the discussion so far was that it was too limited because no other races besides Asian and whites were mentioned, and that my interracial experience was actually with ladies of Latina and African American backgrounds. The females sitting on my table actually got up and moved to another table afterwards with one of them commenting "desperate."

Why I continue to attend church service for approximately five additional years after that incident while in the LA area is puzzling.

Starting in 2006, I began to visit Mosaic. In the beginning of summer while attending a theater conference, I trekked from Gardena to Pasadena to check out the service. As big as the service was, I felt welcomed and was able to meet different people. The music was a little on the loud side for my personal taste. I was then asked if I was going to be in the area the following Sunday and I explained to them about the conference I was attending wrapped up that morning. They then told me about their downtown LA club service in the evening. Couldn't have been a better situation since I found out the location was less than 5 minutes away from the conference.

The following Sunday after taking about an hour and a half to "say goodbye" to the conference attenders, I was able to make my way to a nightclub called The Mayan. This was really a nightclub. I'm looking around thinking I was in the wrong place, but then someone handed me a church bulletin. I enter and found a lounge table near the bar. Next thing I know the houselights turn off and I was treated to a laser light show with the music and a visual multi-media presentation. I couldn't believe that was "church."

When I took another road trip to LA two months later, I explained to my friend that as the driver WE WILL be going to church service. Considering we left on a Sunday morning from the Bay Area, she figured we were not going to attend any sort of church service since we didn't arrive to the LA area until after 4pm. When I turned the TV off at the hotel room at 5pm to leave, she was shocked before she began to sulk. We trekked to the Mayan in downtown LA and she initially thought that I was pulling her leg that we were at church. She even complained why I didn't tell her to "dress up" for the occasion. Once the service began, her jaws dropped in disbelief. A few months after our trip, she contacted me sharing about her insecurities and her questions about her life purpose. She then asked me to help her find a church like the one we went to.

I would like to say that I've found a spot in the LA area where I could call "home" on a spiritual sense. However after having the privilege of meeting Dr. Rev. Michael Beckwith and his wife Ricki in person 2 years ago, there's no way that my next visit in LA would exclude a visit to Agape.

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