“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”–Luke 6:27-28
“T he worst attack on American soil since the bombing of Pearl Harbor.” These words I heard after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Towers in 2001 triggered memories of the mass incarceration of all Japanese Americans living on the West coast during World War II. For me, the “day that will live in infamy” is the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles behind barbed wire for the crime of having an Asian face and a Japanese name.
Decades later, I cried as my fourth-generation Asian American daughter was told to “go back to where she came from” on the playground. How can I forgive the unforgivable hatred and rejection I experienced as a child growing up in white, Anglo-Saxon America?
By a miracle of God’s grace, work teams from First Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, came to the Japanese American United Church in New York City after 9/11 to do much-needed repairs and cleaning of the building and parsonage. More importantly, they extended a hand of friendship and healing to our faith family by inviting us to visit their church in Iowa.
It was there that I met an older gentleman who grasped my hand and said, “I was a soldier during World War II, and I am so very sorry for what happened to your family.”
Those simple words validating my feelings and experiences empowered me to forgive and release years of bitterness and pain. It made me realize that although I was the victim of prejudice and racial injustice, God calls me to love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for those who spitefully use me. That is the only way to live in peace and harmony with my neighbors, to have inner peace with myself, and to have unity with God.
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, racial injustice runs deep in this country. Daily I am confronted with the sin of racism. By the power of your Holy Spirit, grant me the strength, wisdom, courage, and compassion to truly forgive, understand, and bless those who hurt and offend me by their words, actions, insensitivities, and attitudes, so that together we may build your beloved community. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Gerri Igarashi Yoshida
Gerri Igarashi Yoshida has been an active member of the RCA’s Council for Pacific and Asian American Ministries since 2007. She is a member of the Japanese American United Church in New York City and serves as the administrative assistant for the Pastoral Formation and Transitions Committee of the Classis of New York. She has also served on the RCA’s Commission on Race and Ethnicity, the R-89 Task Force on Understanding White Privilege, and on the RCA Discernment Process Team.