Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) faith leaders gathered for a National AAPI Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday morning, praying on behalf of the nation's leaders and issues affecting the nation and world.
"For us to shine and be a light to the community, we need to pray," said Timothy Haahs from the Tim Haahs and Associates, Inc., who spoke a short message before the prayer breakfast. The prayer breakfast was a part of the Lighting the Community Summit, a conference on civic engagement in the Asian American faith community hosted by Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD).
Those in government also joined and led prayers on behalf of the nation, including Mark Brinkmoeller, the director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives of USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), and Jannah Scott, the deputy director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The issue of race relations in the country was also addressed. AAPI community members shared their experiences of discrimination in the criminal justice system and the effects of riots in their own lives.
"We're in this together," said Priscilla Baek, who shared the way the 1992 L.A. riots affected her family's life as her parents owned a small business. "We all need to work together to get out of the cycle of poverty." She added that her own previous experiences with the L.A. riots moved her to be a greater voice to stand in solidarity with all of the communities affected by the recent Baltimore riots.
Other prayer topics included those of issues related to the AAPI faith community, including peace and security in the Asian peninsula, human trafficking, mental health, and the next generation of Korean Americans. Leaders of prayer topics discussed the need to work together to solve these complex issues.
Chris Ljungquist from the U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops highlighted the role of the Asian faith community in spreading awareness about human trafficking.
"Faith-based groups have unique opportunities to spread awareness because recently-arrived immigrants gather to faith-based groups, and are more likely to trust faith-based groups than others," he said.
Grace Choi, the policy advisor of the Secretary's Office on Global Women's Issues at the U.S. Department of State, encouraged older Christian leaders to continue interceding for the younger generation.
"I'm here because of the prayers of the generations before me," she said. "Keep praying for the next generation because it will move us further to do even greater work."
A video message from Kenneth Bae was also played during the prayer meeting, thanking and appreciating the faith community for their prayers during his detainment in North Korea. The release of Kenneth Bae was a major issue that the AAPI faith leaders brought to last year's White House briefing during the Lighting the Community Summit.