40 Days 2017

Jonny Leano: Addressing Identity in a Centered-Set Church

International Market sign

"Hawaii is a racially diverse place. Former Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle says that Hawaii is a place where the “racial and ethnic lines are often blurred or deemed irrelevant.” In other words, Hawaii focuses on racial diversity at the center. And racial diversity in Hawaii is a great source of pride that distinguishes us from the mainland.

"But for me, Hawaii was not a racially diverse paradise. I am part of a growing population of immigrant Filipinos in Hawaii, and as of 2010, Filipinos surpassed Japanese to become the second-largest racial group in Hawaii, just behind Caucasians.

"Yet I still felt racism and xenophobia growing up. I was teased for being Filipino. I also witnessed how neighborhoods were segregated based on race and class. And this was confusing. I thought that fellow Hawaiians celebrated our different racial identities… but sometimes I felt that Filipinos were the exception…"

This week, Jonny Leano shared with us his experiences growing up as a Filipino citizen in Hawai’i--and later participating in predominantly white churches in America. Listen in (or read his notes) for more on how we can become a spiritual community that allows people to live out their full identities and share their unequal experiences of race and class—yet still maintain a focus on Jesus as the one who brings us together.

Faith Is A Two-Way Thing

"When I was in middle school, I went through confirmation. I had been baptized as a kid in a mainline denominational church. And then around 12 or 13, I was told it was time for confirmation. Along with all the other sixth graders, I took a class. Now I always liked studying, but this was boring. I don’t remember really learning anything about what I’d now call the Christian faith. There was nothing about the Bible. Nothing about the trinity; no Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Nothing about connection to Jesus. Nothing about how to connect with God, but a lot about the history of my particular denomination.

At the end of the class,  we'd all get up in front of the church, wear a nice dress and let the pastor put a bit of oil on each of our heads. It was nothing special for me. I was probably thinking about if we might go out for pizza afterwards, like most of my friends. But there was one girl who wasn’t like the rest of us; Kelly. Something different was happening for her. When she kneeled and the pastor blessed her with oil, she was weeping. She was shaking a bit. She was visibly moved. Something was clearly happening for her and it seemed to be real.  I knew Kelly. I trusted her. I didn’t know what she was feeling but I knew it was something genuine. Further more, I wanted it, but I didn’t understand where it came from."

Have you ever seen others have powerful spiritual experiences, but not felt them yourself? Have you wondered if experiences of the Holy Spirit are for just some people, or might be available to all of us? In this first teaching, Leah explores this question and how we'll be addressing it through the season of Lent, which we're calling "40 Days of Interactive Faith".

Listen to the teaching below or read the notes here. And check out our Daily Guide for ways to participate in this series throughout the week.