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Multiple identities

"Multiple identities" Continued...

Grace Wong, a senior at the University of Southern California, agrees with Kim’s vision. She thought about joining Epic as a freshman but chose the more multicultural InterVarsity for two simple reasons: “I wanted a small fellowship, and not an Asian fellowship.” She grew up in an Asian church, but said joining a more diverse fellowship opened up her perception of God and her whole world of understanding: “In Asian communities, it’s great that you’re comfortable and you understand your own culture, but you block off a huge part of the world.”

She now plays the keyboard for USC InterVarsity’s main meetings, which was two-thirds Asian three years ago but has now diversified because of efforts to include other ethnicities: “We recognized that God’s kingdom isn’t just Asian people.”

When Grace Wong joined InterVarsity in 2009, it was made up of 20 students, most of them Asians. Now, three years later, USC InterVarsity’s Thursday night meetings pack a chemistry lecture hall with about 180 white, black, Asian, and Latino students. The praise band, with an African-American singer, sometimes sings the praise songs in Spanish. “We want to reinforce that God is the same,“ Wong said. “That no matter what ethnicity you are … you can come together and worship the same God.”

Still, Kathy Khang, InterVarsity multi-ethnic director for the Midwest region, believes both ethnic-specific and multi-ethnic fellowships are important as each student comes to campus with differing views of their ethnicity. “Our primary identity is through Christ, but God gave us race and gender as part of our identity … that’s a reflection of God’s own identity. He didn’t create us as one genderless, raceless being.”

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