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Five Questions With Marissa Kusayanagi

October 22, 2018

Written By: Erin Diaz

On Thursday, October 25, we have the pleasure of hearing our very own Event Supervisor Marissa Kusayanagi speak at Q Union! We are so proud of her and we know she has worked so hard to deliver a talk that matters in the society we live in. I sat down with Marissa over some hot almond milk lattes to chat about why she cares about Q, what she’s talking about at Q Union, and most importantly, what coffee or tea beverage she would be most excited to receive on the night of the event. Read our interview below.


Erin Diaz: When did you first hear about Q and how did you hear about it?

Marissa Kusayanagi: I heard about Q from a friend of a friend. One of our other SA workers, Kay, introduced me to her friend Mary Michael. We were actually in Nashville visiting the city, and Mary Michael worked at Q as a fellow. I think we were walking down the street to get ice cream at Jeni’s, and Mary Michael was telling me what Q does and what they’re all about, and I was immediately intrigued. I thought, "I have to do that or get involved somehow". Mary Michael was in charge of starting Q Union I believe, she was trying to get more college campuses involved. She was saying Q wants Christians to be more informed on big issues and she wants Christians to learn how to communicate better, whether that is with other Christians or not.

ED: Why is Q something that you’re passionate about?

MK: For one thing, there isn’t anything out there like Q, at least that I’ve heard of. In this day and age and with the way the world is going (especially with social media), a lot of these issues we talk about have always been here, but we never had the media or phones or anything to communicate about them in such an intense way. Now it’s always in our face and we’re forced to deal with it. Now we can’t walk around with the excuse of “I didn’t know that was a problem” or “but I haven’t experienced that myself”. Regardless, you probably know someone who has experienced the issue at hand themselves. That’s one of the issues Q talks about. Q does a great job of creating a space for Christians to talk about these issues but also get educated. I think we can be scared to talk about things because we aren’t fully educated or because we just don’t really know everything about a topic, so Q has created an environment where they educate people on issues. It isn’t even Q who really does the educating - they use people who are in the field of the issue who know what’s going on and they educate other Christians and give you practical ways to improve the issue or solve the problems going on. The end goal is that they want everybody to come together and for Christians to create a better world. They want people to know how to understand issues regardless of fear or whatever it may be. I think Christians can be scared to dive in to social or economic issues. It’s easy for us to say “It’s in God’s hands” and that hasn’t ever been a good reason for us to ignore things. God wants us to tackle issues head on and I think Q is equipping people to do that. There really is nothing like Q. They invite people in and don’t make you feel dumb or ignorant. They want you to have an open mind to other people’s stories or experiences.

ED: The cool thing you were talking about is that, with Q, you don’t really have to have your mind made up. Q equips you to have conversations that you may feel like you should already be equipped for but that most of us probably aren’t. And that’s okay! We need to gather information, and Q teaches us how to gather information in order to have a conversation.

MK: Yeah! And you never walk into Q feeling like “wow, I’m so out of the loop” or “I’m apathetic”. You walk in and feel the pain that’s going on in the world, and you realize what you can work on and solve. I don’t think they make people feel like they aren’t good enough or educated enough to have a conversation.

ED: Which national speaker are you most excited to hear during the event and why?

MK: That’s a good question. At first I wasn’t sure if I knew who Jo Saxton was, then I remembered I listened to a podcast with her on Typology. She was talking about how she is a female eight, which is what I am on the Enneagram, and I am really excited to hear her perspective on the world. She was raised in London and she is an African-American, so she brings a rare experience to the table. She will bring in many different sides to issues. I’m probably most excited to hear her but all three speakers are amazing individuals and they all do so much good in the world. I think we can all look up to them in some respect. Scott Harrison is amazing, and it’s funny because he’s also an eight, but he has a really dark past, and I think his honesty about it is rare. You don’t hear about things like that in the church a lot, and it’s cool how his dark past has brought him to start such an incredible organization that is changing people’s lives (charity: water). I’m always excited to hear Bob Goff, but Jo and Scott are new to me so I’m excited to hear them speak.

ED: Can you give a brief synopsis of your talk?

MK: Yeah! So I have grown a deep passion for women, and I think it’s easy for people to label me as a feminist but I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. I've seen the way women have been hurt in the church specifically, and that’s where I’m coming from in my talk. With personal experience and also with all women in mind that have been silenced in the church or labeled as only capable of specific jobs, I’m hoping I can bring a little bit of light to an issue that people in the church need to learn more about, even here at Liberty. Still I hear people talking about professors or teachers that are still speaking on how women are only made for specific jobs and roles, and I just don’t think that’s true. I think that isn’t what Jesus meant for women, and there’s a little part of my talk where I’ll discuss how women have felt this silence of their voice since history and time began. Women have been put in this frame of “you don’t have the right to voice your opinions”, and they have been sexualized along with that. We’re taught at a young age that our bodies can “create sin” for people. I experienced that and was told to cover my body as a young girl because a young boy might lust. I think when you tell a community of girls that, they start to feel like they’re the problem, and it feels like it’s not the sin itself but the woman herself. Hopefully I can shed some light on that and I hope the church will work on creating spaces for women to feel welcome and empowered.

ED: How have you prepared for your talk (resources)?

MK: This topic in general has been something that I have thought a lot about before I got the opportunity to speak at Q. I wrote a blog post for Student Activities in the summer about feminism and the church, and I used a lot of Q talks as research for that. I understand that a lot of this issue is based on personal experience or others’ experiences and not necessarily books. A lot of people have talked on this issue, like Beth Moore and Jefferson Bethke. I have also spent a lot of time listening to podcasts on women in general, not just in the church. Jo Saxton is a perfect example of someone who is so strong but has also felt herself being silenced before. I think most women have felt silenced in some way, whether that’s in the church or outside of it. I would hope that the church is the first group of people to stop that. So, a lot of podcasts, and I’m reading a book called "Bad Feminist". The word feminist can have a negative connotation and it gets thrown around a lot, but this book discusses how you can be empowering women and you don’t have to be the perfect feminist or liberal to do so. A lot of things like that, and obviously since this is Q and Liberty and we’re coming from a stance of changing the church, the New Testament touches on so much of this. Our whole goal as Christians is to be like Christ and to walk in His footsteps, so it’s really simple the way He lived and treated women. If we’re living like that it should be pretty easy for us.

ED: BONUS! During the long hours of prepping your speech, what coffee beverage from where would you be most excited for someone to bring you?

MK: I think I would really just want a pour-over from Third Wave (hot!). But I also feel like my mood changes - if I want something sweet, I would want a hot matcha from Golf Park Coffee. It just depends on my mood. 

To learn more about Q Union and how to pick up your free ticket for the event, visit our webpage.