The Atlanta Shooter Targeted My Community. He Also Came from My Former Church.


An Asian American pastor grapples with grief, anger, and the evangelical response after last week’s attacks.

I woke up last week to the news that there had been a mass shooting in Atlanta, and the shooter seemed to have a specific target: Asian American women. What I had feared deep down for several months had finally come to pass. The hateful rhetoric and anger toward Asians had reached its full bloom.

The fatal attack seemed to be the result of growing animosity and violence toward my people over the year since the pandemic began. Little did I know, there was more to the nightmare.

As I scrolled down the newsfeed, I caught a glimpse of the picture of the gunman. For a moment, I thought he looked like someone I knew. Then I saw the name, and my heart sank in a way that I didn’t know it could. The murder suspect was a member of the church in Georgia where I served before my current pastoral position in Maryland. Our families are friends.

For a moment, I thought it was a terrible dream. When I woke my wife to tell her the news, I couldn’t speak. She knew something was wrong and asked, “What’s going on? What happened?” and I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth.

I’ve spent the past several days trying to process the shooting and figure out how to grieve. The stories of the six Asian American women among the victims reminded me so much of my own mother. She has worked 12-hour days for almost the entirety of the four decades she’s lived in the United States. I couldn’t stop thinking about Hyun Jung Grant, the 51-year-old single mom who left her two sons orphaned and heartbroken. I grieved for my people.

In the midst of my grief, I also felt frustrated by the response. So many people, in their efforts to speak prophetically on social media, began suggesting what led the shooter to a …

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