We stand on the shoulders of often unnamed giants of the faith. For us, these are individuals like Stan Inouye, Keith Young, Jackie Bland, Tom Fritz, and Henry Tan. From the very beginning of Cru in 1951 on the UCLA campus, the objective was to reach every student with the Gospel. Over the years, God has faithfully raised up men and women with vision and passion to minister to Asian Americans. The following is a brief history of our rich heritage.
In 1974 Stan Inouye became the acting director of Intercultural Ministries (ICM), a new ministry in Campus Crusade for Christ. ICM set up a training center in Los Angeles for their 25 staff of various ethnic backgrounds. They did outreaches in the Hispanic, Asian, Native American and African American communities.
In the 80’s Intercultural Ministries was changed to Intercultural Resources (ICR) under the leadership of Tom Fritz. Initially this ministry was predominantly focused on reaching African American students. It was later renamed Ethnic Student Ministries (ESM), and was led by Charles Gilmer. In 2008 the name was changed to Ethnic Field Ministry (EFM).
In the late 80’s under the leadership of Henry Tan, Metamorphosis (staff focused on Asian American ministry but based out of Singapore) worked on the University of California, Irvine and Cal Poly Pomona campuses. Leaders like Margaret Yu*, Brent and Leila Wong*, and Eric Kaneshiro*, were raised up from Metamorphosis.
In the early 90’s Keith Young worked with Jackie Bland to give focus to reaching Asian American students in the U.S. campus ministry. At the ’93 ICR staff conference Keith, along with Darrin and Vivian Mabuni* were the only three AA campus staff in attendance. The Horizon’s Conference, San Francisco Project and People of Purpose conferences focused on cross cultural ministry to Asian Americans, African Americans and Latino students. Meanwhile, on the East coast, Mark Ogden began ministering to Asian Americans on the campus of Penn State. John and Sandy Mackin have given leadership there since 1998. In the summer of 1997 the Los Angeles ICR team was formed at UCLA. It was our first all Asian American staff team.
1996 saw the first Asian American student leadership conference on the West coast. In 1998 it became a national conference and was called Zebulan. Later that spring, the name Epic was chosen (names that didn’t make it: GenerAsian, Rice and Zebulan….whew!). In 1999, Mark Oh, directed the East Coast Epic conference held in Maryland. Student leaders like Tricia (Kavle) Beebee* started Epic Bible studies in ’99 at UC Davis that grew to become a separate movement of over 75 students by 2004.
The new millennium brought staff from across the country to work together and focus on Epic. The name was officially changed to the Epic Movement. In 2000, Darrin Mabuni started the Hawaii Summer Project with a vision to raise up Asian American leaders. It later became the first Epic Movement Summer Project. In 2003 Dennis and Carita Chen returned from ministering in East Asia to start an Epic Movement at University of Texas. The UC Irvine staff team, led by Dave Sasaki, and the New York metro team became the first Epic Movement staff teams in 2004. As leaders responded to God’s spirit, movements continued to develop around the country. In 2006 Tommy Dyo joined staff as the Epic Executive National Director and staff were assigned to minister with Epic Movement in a full-time capacity. An Epic National Executive Team was formed to give long-term leadership and vision to the ministry. The Epic Movement grew to include annual conferences on the East Coast, West Coast, and a Central Conference in Texas.
The Scriptures say, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering their conduct, imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7) Listed above are examples of leaders who each responded to both a call and a need. They took steps of faith and God honored their decisions. And now you have the opportunity to allow God to use you to take the Epic Movement to places where we have yet to make inroads. Be a part of the next generation of leaders who follow God fully, who bring others out of darkness into the Kingdom, who trust Him for things unseen. Be a part of changed lives and a changed world. Give yourselves to the next chapter of the epic story.
*currently serving as full-time staff with the Epic Movement