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Dear <<First Name>>!

May 30th, 2022

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Month. What irony given the recent horrific shootings and because “among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, these (mental health) issues are often shrouded by silence and shame.”  In the chart, note that the intersection of AAPI and mental health is the lowest of any group. In fact, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) overall are less likely to access mental health services than the “White” group. I was invited to lead the SF leg of the most innovative, strategic, and far-reaching mental-health initiative for BIPOC leaders I’ve ever witnessed. Let me qualify that claim a bit.

I’ve been guest lecturing to therapists since 2005 (imposter syndrome, if you know my story :) and attended Asian mental health conferences (including one in Singapore years ago), so I have a sense of what reading is assigned to therapists in training and what work is actually being done over the past decade. There’s simply so little work to creatively, innovatively provide mental health services without the stigmas and cultural barriers common among BIPOC. But this cohort have been a rare, breath of fresh-air exception.


The BIPOC cohort was a team effort of expert ministers & therapists with imagination and resolve. For example, beside me is Jimmy McGee, 16-year veteran of IV’s “Pilgrimage to Reconciliation” program and present day President of the African American “Impact Movement.” He envisions BIPOC leaders trained in a way that the discipleship of the emotional life (a greater goal than mental health accessibility) can enter into the ebb and flow of life without the usual stigmas and barriers. Jimmy sent out invitations to BIPOC Christian leaders across different organizations. Without him, there would not be any participants!  Then there’s the three main architects of the entire cohort in the next picture, Michael S. Chen, Sam Lee, and  TJ Poon; I loved working with them for the last few months to plan the cohort time in SF.

I invited an all-star team of preachers/teachers, experts in diversity and social justice to help me minister to the cohort. From left to right (skipping me) are Felicia Larson, Sylvia Kamande, and Riana Robinson. Together, they engaged the cohort participants with love, empathy, and expertise. They did everything, including escorting those with mobility needs, making space for healing through centering exercises, panels on collective trauma, and more. I was in awe experiencing how they so powerfully ministered to the cohort. 

The participants were the real heroes of this cohort, even before it even started! To process pain and collective trauma as a community requires bravery, vulnerability, and humility. Participants, all ministers, ranged in age from 20’s to late 60’s; I’ve personally witnessed the leadership of some of the more senior members, advocating for BIPOC ministry and experiencing the rug painfully pulled out from underneath them. I’ve been there, which helped make my reunion with some quite heartfelt. Some knew me in my younger, angrier years. But here we were, joined by a common vision to process the pain and collective trauma, seeking to embody the healing journey to pass on to others. How needed this journey is given the increased trauma in our broken world. Lord have mercy. 

We're in this together. Read this new post I just wrote that expands AAPI and mental health through the lens of my former housemate who took his own life...and how we ALL can grow more mental health space within our families and communities.

And as always, feel free to drop me a line!          

Grace to you, Steve


Copyright © 2022 Steve Hong/Kingdom Rice, All rights reserved.

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