I had the privilege of teaching at the 3rd South Asian InterVarsity Leadership Institute on August 1-5, 2014. It was one of my favorite moments in college ministry. The sharpest South Asian student leaders from all over the United States and Canada gathered together to dream, be trained, and be sent out.

My Top 10 Favorite Moments at South Asian InterVarsity Leadership Institute

We laughed. We shared stories. We cried. We listened intently to God. We let the scripture speak to us. We allowed God to shape our future plans and desires. It was amazing. In this post, I will share my top 10 favorite moments while at the Institute.

#1 Studying the Life of Moses with South Asian Americans

Moses is a great example of a displaced, confused, tri-cultural leader that God empowered to change the world. God was at work in Moses’ life even before he was born. If God can use Moses, then God can use an American Born Confused Desi (ABCD) like me too! We can be world changers!

#2 Discussing Gender Partnership, Brokenness, and Reconciliation

It’s hard to hear about the brokenness between genders in our community. South Asian American women need to use their gifts and step up! South Asian American men need to use their power, privilege, and platform to empower women. This is the future! We must heal the brokenness between genders. Partnership, reconciliation, and healing starts with us.

#3 Confronting and Dismantling the South Asian American Dream 

The South Asian American dream has become a deep rooted idol in our community. We sacrifice to our idols. It is subtle, but it is pervasive. Jesus is rarely number one in the hearts of South Asians — even Christians. We must be a generation that follows Jesus not the dream.

#4 Affirming and Redeeming All Aspects of our Culture

Ethnic identity formation is important. You were created South Asian American on purpose. You should love the way God created you. Your looks, your language, your culture, your clothes, your food, your humor, etc. It is God’s gift. Be uniquely you. Embrace all that God has given you. Be brave to confront aspects that must be redeemed.

Manuscript Study of Exodus 1-5

Dissecting the life of Moses in Exodus 1-5 and having South Asian snacks!

#5 Engaging in the Tension of Following Jesus and Obeying our Parents

God desires for us to love our parents and the immigrant culture. We cannot disconnect from them nor are we called to be tied to them in an unhealthy way. Honor, love, and respect our parents. But Jesus is number one. Obey Jesus in all things. Never leave your parents out of the process. This is such a huge tension!

#6 Committing to Share about Jesus to our South Asian Friends

South Asians that are Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, etc. are all loved by Jesus. We are all one people that share a common ancestry. Our bloodline is the same! Therefore, we must feel great compassion (not condemnation) for those that have not yet discovered Jesus. Be an onramp to the Gospel not an obstacle for our South Asian brothers and sisters.

Debriefing our cultural immersion experience at local temples and mosques

Debriefing our cultural immersion experience at local temples and mosques

#7 Rediscovering the Deep Joy of Communicating in our Heart Language

Not just spoken language, but heart language. You may not speak Hindi, but you do understand Hierarchy. You may not speak Tamil, but you do understand certain Traditions. As a minority, it feels good when you don’t have to explain everything — everyone just “gets it”. Actual language is important too — learn to share the Gospel in your South Asian language if you can. Pray in other South Asian languages if you can. Learn the ins/outs of South Asian protocol.

#8 Enjoying Accents and the Humor Connected to Cultural Idiosyncrasies 

Haha. Who doesn’t love a funny South Asian accent? Why do some families give their children strange rhyming names? How can South Asian parents be so good at haggling the price of… anything? Why are we stopped for random security checks… all the time?  Why is our food so awesome… but so pungent? Haha. Why are we so good at spelling? and math? and computers? and heart surgeries? South Asians… it is good to laugh about ourselves.

#9 Learning about Finishing Well as Lifelong Leaders

It was sobering to learn that only 30% of Christian Leaders finish well — that number could be lower in the South Asian community. Temptation. Self-righteousness. Power. It can tear us down. It is important for us to turn to God and to one another during moments of weakness. Let us not allow shame or reputation to undermine our leadership.

Powerful presentation about following Jesus and obeying our parents

Powerful presentation about following Jesus and obeying our parents

#10 Dreaming about the Next Generation of South Asian Americans

God has a reason for sending South Asians to the United States. There are over 3 Million South Asians in the United States. We are the third largest Asian minority living in the United States. We attain the highest levels of education per capita. We are one of the wealthiest ethnic groups per capita. This is our sovereign foundation. Let us take what we have and give it to Jesus — we can make a difference in the United States and around the world.

South Asian InterVarsity Leadership Institute - Class of 2014. Let's do some damage for the Kingdom!

South Asian InterVarsity Leadership Institute – Class of 2014. Develop. Awaken. Advance!

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