youth specialties/zondervan apology

i have been trying to process the events surrounding youth specialties/zondervan and asian american ministry leaders like soong-chan rah. if you’re in the dark, there was a fairly offensive skit published in a popular youth ministry resource called skits that teach by eddie james and tommy woodard published by zondervan. furthermore, there’s an accompanying mp3 with answering machine voices that can be downloaded.

here’s an excerpt:

“Herro, Dis is Wok’s Up Restaurant calling to confirm your order. . . . I think that, yes, you total is 14 dollar 95 cent.”

“Herro? This is Wok’s Up Restaurant again. We have drive and drive, and we can’t find you house. We don’t find you house soon, you pu pu get cold. Pu pu good when it hot.”

(Hostile) “Okay, we drive for long time looking for you house. I tell you, you go outside and I look for you. I am driving a red Rincon (Lincoln) Continental. You pu pu still getting cold. Bye!

“Okay, I drive for long time and I stil not find you house. So I am eating you pu pu! Ruckiry it still warm. I was hungry, so I eat it. Mmmmm . . . this pu pu is good. (Smacks lips a few times) You on my bad rist. You don’t call us anymore. Bye!

zondervan/ys has shown some corrective responses, including a public apology from mark oestreicher that i believe was incredibly contrite and continues to outline further steps taken to make right what he can. i very much appreciate his response and the efforts taken.

i’ve tended to stray away from using many youth specialties materials of if possible as a youth minister because i found that it didn’t always connect with my students or myself. when i first started in ministry i used many of the materials but gradually i found that they for lack of better words were very “white.” i’m not saying that they’re bad materials at all. i think youth specialties does great things for youth ministry at large, particularly for more “american” youth. to be grossly general, asian american kids deal with different things. the needs are simply different especially when they find themselves more stuck between two cultures or more.

positively thinking, i think this will help zondervan move in a new direction to cater to or at the very least be more sensitive to an increasingly diverse audience. but this blindspot needed be brought to their attention. i do believe that this plays a role in God’s redemptive plan. i think that the process of this reconciliation between ys/zondervan and the aa community though painful has gone better than anticipated.

as for those of us who are asian american, i think if over the years prior to this incident if the lack of connection in mainstream youth resources hasn’t made us more creative to develop our own materials that it ought to encourage us to produce our own. now if this skit was produced by one of our own and it was clearly ours for our community…would it have been ok? perhaps.


3 Responses to “youth specialties/zondervan apology”

  1. 1 ypguybrit
    March 10, 2007 at 1:00 am

    i like what you had to say about (well if read deeper) really thinking about your own youth and not what someone in totally different culture of america is telling you to do in ministry. i am currently working as a youth pastor from america in Northern Ireland…culture shock for sure. but i find it very unsettling that the whole world is full of racism or has huge culture biasis. every event that i go to is either a slam on the U.S. american way…or a gimic/mimic ministry of a mega church. it is a sad state of affairs that we fall into to ride of the generalities we find in the world to get a laugh or simply try and prove a point. have you ever thought about going to work for YS and helping them in this area that they do lack in. i think the reason why their material seems very white….is in fact because 85% of the staff is white american bread workers…who even if they tried to to think in a different culture context…honestly they could not…

  2. 2 L T
    March 13, 2007 at 6:59 am

    thanks for your thoughts ypguybrit and definitely your honesty. your right, we do need people to work in these places. in the past i had considered working with organizations (youth ministry related/media/publishing) like ys where they could surely use a different perspective or even help in other areas that i can serve. that still may be a possibility but right now being a pastor is consuming enough. i admit that sometimes i’m a little cynical believing these youth ministry machines are already too big of an institution to care about such matters. that it’s risky and not practical. money does drive the machine too. i do have a graphic design/marketing background and with that i have the creative urge to try to develop my own materials when doing ministry. i believe there are others more well suited for this task to take it to the next level. currently i think we are at that stage where there may be more younger asian-americans with real substance integrating into these places and making a difference. we’re getting there. it’s time!

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[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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