COVID-19: West Houston Chinese Church Sheds Light on Asian Community Impact and Responds With Love


David Hsu, Pastor of West Houston Chinese Church, shares the unique challenges that the Asian community is experiencing during COVID-19 and how churches can take the lead on setting an example of how Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor.

"I would love to see if somehow by the grace of God that our city could be a leader. . .the gospel orientation, because the believers of the church are taking a stand, that this city really shows a very different attitude as we go through this together. And maybe together we draw closer to the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus Christ together."

Resources Mentioned:

West Houston Chinese Church

Houston Responds COVID-19 Resources


Transcript:

Tommy Rosson:

Hello. Thank you for joining us today. It's Tommy Rosson with Houston Responds. And today I'm honored to have, Pastor David Hsu with the West Houston Chinese Church. David, thank you for joining us.


David Hsu:

Thank you for having me.


Tommy Rosson:

Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about your church is located obviously in West Houston. Tell me a little bit about how y'all have responded to COVID-19.


David Hsu:

Yeah, well, you know, like everybody else, we got hit, pretty quick and having to move everything online. You know, I've been grateful for how the Lord helped us and how hard our team worked to bring everything online. And you know, in a matter of two weeks, our small groups got online. So that's going well. There were some areas where we had to think about some of the least served parts of our church.


For instance, we have some seniors who are shut in senior apartments and they're not quite savvy enough with smartphones or the internet. So, you know, figuring out how can we serve them? So, our minister of senior adults, you know, last minute, put together a devotional workbook, delivered it to them, and then we put, started putting our sermon on phone lines so they could make a regular phone call and hear the message. I don't know if other people do that nowadays. We weren't thinking of this as your thing, so they could actually hear a regular weekly devotion and still be able to have access to the sermons through, you know, through the means that they know how. But, you know, we're like everybody, we're feeling our way through this.


So yeah, but we're learning a lot from everybody. I felt like, you know, what you're doing here. The body of Christ has been so overwhelmingly sharing creative resources and what they're doing. And, so we've been blessed by that.


Tommy Rosson:

That's great. What does it look like to serve in your community and how are you all approaching that during the season?


David Hsu:

Well, our community, at least at our church and whatnot, so far we haven't had anybody hit by COVID-19. We've been focusing on ministry in equipping our leaders, our people, how to serve. So part of it in terms of equipping our small group leaders, and trying to see the crisis as an opportunity. So one of the things, one of the highlights, you know, if there are highlights to speak of in a time like this, we'll be seeing a new group birth during this time.


And we find that a lot of people are quite hungry. They're more receptive than ever before to spiritual conversations, to a safe space where they can share about what their concerns are and to even listen to some biblical truth into speaking to our lives. So we're excited to see that in the new small group. We just had one this past Sunday for Easter Sunday evening. We launched another new small group there in Cypress. We're excited about that. But, currently really, trying to make sure that our people are being ministered to and sort of figuring out how to minister to the community at large. And that's something we're still really trying to figure out right now.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah, that's great. Thank you for, thank you for letting us know how you're doing and it's exciting that the church continues to grow and have unique opportunities within this season. One of the things that I'd love to get your insight and input on is being, you know, a Chinese church, church folks from the Chinese community. You know, the greater Asian community of greater Houston is an integral part of who we are. We're one of the most diverse, if not the most diverse city in America. And we have a very long relationship with the Asian community, but this is something that has impacted that. So what's the overall sense? What does it look like in the Asian community with this COVID-19 in our community?


David Hsu:

Yeah. Well, thank you for asking about that, Tommy. I would say in the Asian or Chinese American or I think in the immigrant community, right now, what the people I get to talk to, I sense there's a lot of anxiety. Especially as we get ready now talking about reopening. You know, leading into this time we were hearing some, you know, troubling news about, you know, some racial profiling, we have seen some harassment. And then that kind of shuts itself down because, you know, we're all sheltered in place. So, you know, as we come out of this, I think a lot of people have a lot of concerns. If you pick up the news, here and there you hear about more Asians are purchasing guns. They are fearful. You're fearful a lot. I know some people are concerned about their visa statuses, you know, whose job laws, would they still have people even stay in this country, you know, where the kids are growing up here.


And the, you know, even the more subtle things, you know this, right? You know, the kids asking their parents, why wouldn't their parents, you know, let their kids play with us or when they see them, they just, you know, getaway and, you know, don't catch the virus. So the equating, Asian Americans or immigrant with the virus, or that I think that has kind of really set a tone for a lot of the angst, a lot of the stress that people are feeling right now.


Tommy Rosson:

Well, I mean there's, we have enough stress with this in general. The last thing we, I can imagine is then you throw in the racial profiling side of this, what it's like in the Asian community to be scared of that. But also so many in your community I mean, they're second, third, fourth generation, you know, Americans. And America is the melting pot. And so, I mean, this is their home. This is their country. Now all of a sudden they have to go back to being isolated and fearful and then with their kids. How does the church address that, the bigger church, what's the best way for the bigger church to address something that I think most all believers would say, this isn't right.


David Hsu:

Yeah, thank you for asking that. We've been so grateful. I think I can speak for, in that sense as an immigrant who grew up here at a young age, to live in a place like Houston. You know, one of the most diverse cities in America now also has had a history of just great race relations. You know, how people get along really well, respect diversity. And I'm praying that as we go into this next phase of challenge that this city of ours can continue to take that kind of leadership for our country. And I'm praying that that kind of leader, you know, you hear on a lot of people talk about we're all in this together. You know, I like how that's done, how people are talking about that.


I hope that that leadership will fall from the church. And that's just from pragmatic, globalism, you know, it's coming from the fact that because Jesus wants us to love neighbors because the scripture talks about loving the foreigners and remember that you were, once foreigners are flowing out of our faith, that can make a difference. So to me, I think, if other pastors or different churches can be sensitive and teach in this area, you know, I'm trying to think about how are we creating our ministry preemptively, prepare our people from adults to children so that when we run into that kind of thing that we can have a gracious gospel-oriented response, not a response of anger, of bitterness, of self-doubt, but a biblical, gracious response. And so I think if the larger church body could be teaching our people to be sensitive to this particular challenge in time for immigrants and the immigrant hub built the city, helped build a city that such a unique and special place.


You know, little things from, you know, words do matter. You know, we have some singular news about, you know, how you want to brand that virus, you know, to things like how we continue to support local businesses, you know, ethnic businesses and that because, you know, a lot of them are under great stress. Or even just teaching our people to when they see people caught in that kind of situation, to stand up and speak up for those who may have less of a voice. Some of the Asian community are quite comfortable speaking out for themselves. But there are also some who for various reasons are going to be much more muted, much more, you know, just kind of take it. So, those will be a couple of things to think about. You know, one interesting thing, I don't know if I had time to mention this.


Some people follow if you follow the news is Andrew Yang who is, who was a presidential candidate. He most recently made news by advising Asian Americans to embrace the need to embrace and show our Americanness as we have ever done before, more than ever before. We need to show our Americanness. And it's fascinating because he got a big backlash from the Asian community. There's a lot of people upset seeing that, You mean we have to prove our Americanness. And I thought it was fascinating. This speaks of the tension which the community, the truces, the Asian culture we're big on. Let's work harder to earn acceptance. And so you hear a lot of the younger members of that community resent that somehow we have to prove ourselves more. But the truth is where he says, I think for many Asians they will think that way. They would think that they might want to hang a flag or something to show that they're as American as their neighbor. And I just think that I would love for this conversation to take more of a gospel orientation where it's not about that, it's actually at the heart that Jesus called us to love on our neighbors.


Tommy Rosson:

Yeah. I mean, that is such great insight and input and you're challenging your body to respond gracefully to respond with the gospel. And at the very least, if we as pastors from other communities across greater Houston, you know, that are not being profiled in this season. And the same thing happens in our Latin community. Historically it's happened in our African American community. I mean, it's a part of our DNA. It's part of our sin DNA to be tribal and to see us versus them. And you looked at the gospel and it's a "we" gospel. And so it's fascinating how the challenge is if you can teach your people, to your community, to be gracious and respond with the gospel, at the very least, if you're not a part of this community, you should be teaching your people to be gracious. And to respond with the gospel and when you see injustice or you see somebody who might be treated inappropriately to stand up for them and at the very least to not do those behaviors and to not live in fear of somebody else just because they might be slightly different than you


David Hsu:

Totally. I mean, you know, I think it's understandable that the larger community has a lot of frustration. I mean, people are protesting, they don't want to shelter in place anymore and all that. And it would be understandable I mean, before this, we already have sentiments about how immigrants stealing jobs away from Americans. Okay. So you can just see how coming out of this, you know, if somebody who lost a job and seeing the immigrant having a job, feeling like, you know, you took my job but, to me, to even to creating the safe space for people to vent but not to give in to the base or instincts of, you know, fault finding, you know, finger-pointing. Because to me, I think that is what we're praying for our country, that our leaders don't do that, that we don't do that between nations.


But at an individual level, you could just see how that could very easily go there as frustrated people. And I imagine a better date people who probably not that way, giving into that kind of an instinct. So yes, I would love to see if somehow by the grace of God that our city could be a leader in that sense where people were saying, you know, but because of that, the gospel orientation, because the believers of the church taking a stand, that this city really shows a very different attitude as we go through this together, and maybe together or draw closer to the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus Christ together


Tommy Rosson:

I think it's such wise counsel, the idea that it's everybody, not everybody, but so many people are going to be frustrated whether they've furloughed, they've lost a job. There's going to be anger in that. And that's, that's understandable and that's natural. And how do you process that and process that? In a healthy way that doesn't discount the gospel. And that's just great advice that you know, even if you're a congregation that doesn't even... It's hard to find many areas of our city that does not have a good Asian population. And so, but even if you don't feel like that's a part of your community, still your community, your parishioners are going to be frustrated, you're going to be angered. There's going to be a lot of built-up emotion over all this. And so how do they handle that healthy? How do they handle that in a God-oriented way, in a gospel way, is such really wise advice, I think for everybody, regardless of the communities they live in, because it's in those situations, whenever we feel the slight and we have that anger, we connect those dots and those are horrendously bad dots to connect.


David Hsu:

Yes, yes, yes. Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think some of the struggles are definitely gonna extend in the young Asian community, but all of the minority and immigrant community. We already heard about, you know, how the virus is hitting disproportionately, a certain minority community. And to me, that really is an indictment on the fact that the social injustice that still exists in, you know, as great a country as this country is. And so I think our sensitivity to all minority and not just Asian community is going to be needed coming out. I think this problem, this issue of how are people who look different, we in different cultural backgrounds, how we relate to each other. It's gonna be a front and center issue as you sort of reveal coming out of the shut-in phase of this pandemic.


Tommy Rosson:

Wouldn't it be amazing if somehow in the midst of all this tension with who "is and isn't American", with immigration issues, with racial issues that have seemed to then heighten, you know, from Obama to Trump all of this issue? Wouldn't it be amazing if coming out of this, our response to a pandemic, our response to, so much of this is gospel-centered that allows us to move past all of that too, you know, back to the idea that red, yellow, black, and white, we're all precious in his sight and that he loves us all this time. So let's, I think that is something that we all should be praying for and we all should be leaning into.


David Hsu:

Amen. Totally, I mean, God brought us through this, you know, the first digital Easter we just went through. Maybe think back, you know, we used to make a big deal about a Harvey, how hard that was, and then all of a sudden you say, man, I thought that was like a once in a lifetime thing. And then how about this? But how God used that, that terrible, terrible situation in Harvey and to kind of bring the churches together and I really want to see that God could do the same, come out of this pandemic to forge the church to minister, in more effective ways like ever before. For not only the online space but maybe even crossing the racial space boundaries, to minister the gospel to all the people who are the city and the country.


Tommy Rosson:

That's great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Anything else you'd like to add?


David Hsu:

Oh, no, Tommy. I just want to thank you and thank Houston Responds, as well as so many of the parent church groups, have just worked so hard trying to get the churches to link together, to talk to each other, to share what we're learning. And I think that's just, that's just a marvelous work. I just wanna thank you. And for a lot of the ministry groups that are helping us to together, to be the body in a time like this.


Tommy Rosson:

Well, the beauty of what Houston Responds is able to be is because we were started from local churches across greater Houston and all different places to serve the whole body. So we're just thankful to have a place at this time. Thank you very much for joining us.


David Hsu:

Awesome. Thank you so much. God bless you.


Tommy Rosson:

God bless you. Houston pastors, if you would like more information, more of Faith Leader Insights like this, or more information as it relates to COVID-19 and your congregation, please go to Houstonresponds.org/covid-19. Thank you for joining us today.


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