May 22, 2024

A Celebration of Diversity: Stepping Out of the Shadows

A Korean American woman’s story

by Sandy Kang

I’m a 1.5 Korean American. I was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. at age five, so I grew up straddling two cultures and languages. My upbringing was centered around the safety and support of my Korean Christian church community in Los Angeles, CA, where the racial tension between Koreans and Blacks was rampant and led to the 1992 LA riots.

Throughout college, I tended to stick with my people, feeling a sense of inferiority whenever I stepped outside. I often thought I didn’t quite measure up socially, culturally, or intellectually. I found myself conforming to the stereotype of Asians within the school environment—hesitant to speak out and reluctant to raise my hand, avoiding direct eye contact. This all changed when I entered seminary and had the opportunity to interact with a diverse community of believers.

Seminary was my first exposure to other Christians outside of my Korean context. I thought, “Oh my goodness, people view God differently, interpret Scripture differently, and engage differently.” It was such a new experience for me, and it was uncomfortable but so good. This exposure challenged my narrow perspective of non-Koreans and expanded my understanding of God, as I had only worshipped Him in my safe, cultural, and conservative way.

Fast-forward to today. I still recall my first national Alliance special team meeting years ago. Sitting in a room as one of the few females and one of the few Asians, I contemplated a pivotal decision as I felt like the token Asian female. I asked myself, “Will I conform to preconceived notions of what an Asian female is, or will I embrace this opportunity as an invitation from God to offer my unique perspective as a Korean American woman in ministry?”

This defining moment set me on a journey of stripping away the comfort of hiding and courageously stepping into uncomfortable spaces. I realized that the same Holy Spirit that operates in other majority groups is the same Holy Spirit who can speak to and through me.

Daily, I have to hear my Father say, “Come out of the shadows. I’ve gifted you with leadership, a critical mind, and the Holy Spirit to offer valuable insight and perspective. Don’t stay silent. Your voice is needed.” I desire to enter spaces and relationships to steward God’s heart and mind with my unique experience and perspective as a Korean American woman in ministry, a mother to daughters, and serving at a Chinese-heritage church in a Hispanic and Vietnamese neighborhood. I also desire to continually listen, understand, learn, and partner with others who offer their valuable insights. Together, the Church can become stronger and capture a more holistic picture of God’s beautiful Kingdom.


May Your Church reflect Your beautiful and diverse Kingdom of every nation, tribe, people, and language. May we listen, testify, honor, and celebrate the unique stories of Your grace, salvation, and calling, as each of us represents a piece of Your heart. Call us out of our shadows to step into the authority as Your children and empower us with Your Holy Spirit so that we can courageously represent You. May others see the beauty of the gospel through the ways we love one another and are united in Christ.

For the advancement of Your Kingdom, in Jesus’ name. Amen.