Category Archives: asian-american

The Role of the Next Generation in the World

Tom Lin (InterVarsity‘s Vice President of Missions and Director of Urbana 2012) presented a talk on “The Role of the Next Generation of the U.S. Church in Global Mission” at a Leadership Consultation to Revitalize & Reshape Evangelism and Missions in the U.S.

Tom noted 3 contributions from the next generation:

  1. Global Engagement – This student generation thinks and engages globally… The world has become smaller to this student generation
  2. Communal Collaboration – there is a collaborative spirit
  3. Entrepreneurial Action

Tom also identified 3 challenges:

  1. Current financial model of American missions is unsustainable
  2. Learning how to empower and walk alongside global church partners, rather than race ahead with our own agendas
  3. Increasingly dangerous persecution and violent global anti-Americanism

Also, read his postscript at his blog. [cached at]

3 Challenges, 3 Hopes for the Next Generation

Posted by Tom Lin on May 16th, 2011

The transcript for my talk on “The Role of the Next Generation of the U.S. Church  in Global Mission” is now available on this link, along with other resources from the Orlando Consultation last month.  As a follow up piece, I was able to recently visit my old stomping grounds in Boston and speak to a group of local missions pastors, senior pastors, and parachurch ministry leaders.  It was a joy for me to learn from them, to hear about what they are seeing in the next generation.  I ended our time sharing not just about my 3 hopes, but also about 3 challenges that lie ahead for the next generation:

1.  Current financial model of American missions is unsustainable. DEBT and increased resistance to raising support by this generation’s innovative missionaries are huge concerns.  The WSJ Online reported this week that the Class of 2011 is graduating from America’s colleges and universities with a dubious distinction: the most indebted ever — $22,900 is the average student debt of newly minted college graduates!

  • Looking at large, well-known Christian colleges that have traditionally been fertile recruiting grounds for mission agencies, the picture looks even more bleak.  The average debt for a student graduating from one of these schools can be around $35,000.  And when you consider that many mission agencies have debt policies (typically driven by a value for strong member care and wise financial stewardship) that limit the maximum debt to $20,000 or $25,000 in order to be a viable missionary candidate, you begin to see the challenge that’s ahead!
  • Not just debt, but donor trends also make this a challenge.  Increasingly, American missionary budgets seem irrational to supporters, especially when compared to the perceived inexpensive cost of non-Western workers.

2.  Learning how to empower and walk alongside global church partners, rather than race ahead with our own agendas.  Leslie Newbigin accurately depicts the global reality that the North American Church and this generation are wrestling with today:  “We are forced to do something that the Western churches have never had to do since the days of their own birth – to discover the form and substance of a missionary church in terms that are valid in a world that has rejected the power and the influence of the Western nations.  Missions will no longer work along the stream of expanding Western power… We [need to] learn afresh what it means to bear witness to the gospel from a position not of strength but of weakness.”

  • Working from a position of weakness has not typically been a strength for Americans, and I believe it is one of the most difficult challenges for American missionaries today.  After over 70 years, one major international agency recently appointed the first three non-expat country directors for their mission.  But shifting to these new models and structures which mobilize more non-Western workers and indigenous leaders is challenging for Americans.
  • Shifting North American identity and roles from being North Americans “drivers” of the global bible translation enterprise, to being “servants” that bring value when “supporting” indigenous leaders or when “invited in” by indigenous communities is challenging for us Americans.

3.  Increasingly dangerous persecution and violent global anti-Americanism. We certainly live in a time of growing global political unrest and violent terrorist activity.  Many believe that the number of Christian workers killed could mount up quickly for this next generation.

  • Not just limited to political unrest, but a growing anti-Americanism within certain places of the majority world church as well, as some are even saying, “send us American money, but not American people.”
  • This is a huge challenge for a Net Generation that values “playing and fun” in their work and “freedom and choice” in everything they do.  Going to these difficult places in the world might become increasingly less attractive among the menu of options that they have to consider (and they certainly do have more options than any previous generation before them!).

Having shared the above 3 challenges, I do have great hope in what God can do through the next generation.  As I interact with this student generation and see their passion and their love/compassion for the world, I can’t help but believe that they are more than equipped to meet the challenges that will certainly come there way.

14 unmet needs among Korean Americans and Indian Americans

According to this article in The Intelligencer, “Breaking down cultural barriers,” there are 14 basic “problem areas or unmet need themes” among Koreans and Indians in the northern Philadelphia area:

  • Concerns of the elderly
  • Mental health issues
  • Domestic violence and child abuse
  • Discrimination, lack of power and lack of trust
  • Health and medical issues
  • Health insurance issues
  • Immigration concerns
  • Intragroup conflict
  • Lack of awareness of community services
  • Language issues
  • Generational conflict
  • Poverty
  • Substance abuse and addiction problems
  • Transportation problems

The article also highlights top issues that are specific to the Korean and Indian communities:

The three key themes among Koreans were concerns of the elderly, language issues and mental health issues.

The three key themes among Indians were concerns of the elderly, mental health issues and domestic violence issues.

These findings come from interviews cited in a report titled “Koreans and Asian Indians in the North Penn Area”, compiled by Family Services of Montgomery County and funded by the North Penn Community Health Foundation.

Do you find similar needs in your Asian American community? What can be done to better address these issues?

The Dragon Awakes at San Diego Asian American Leadership Conference

On April 4-5, 2008, a group of San Diego pastors and ministry leaders (mostly from the area’s InterVarsity chapters) hosted the San Diego Asian American Leadership Conference. What stood out about this conference for me was the level of creativity, contextualization, and going above-and-beyond to serve the attendees (and to bring glory to God). For instance, Saturday’s buffet dinner had not only a wide range of pan-Asian cuisines but the dining room was decked out in beautiful candle-lit decor and ambiance! This really raises the bar for Asian American conferences!

L2 Foundation’s contributing writer, Cindy Hong, wrote up this excellent report about what happened there. This is an excerpt from “The Dragon Awakes”:

“Hoping to Awaken the Sleeping Dragon.” Such was the desire of the planning team in the conference brochure welcome message. For a generation that thinks, lives, and is inspired by metaphors, the image of a sleeping dragon waking up aptly describes the 2008 Asian American Leadership Conference. With 200-plus in attendance, the energy and excitement matched the fire of a roaring dragon: Asian Americans living kingdom-minded lives, making a difference for Jesus Christ, knowing that God has called and positioned them to change the world.

Read the full article online (in PDF format).

The audios from the plenary sessions are online for free listening and download, including talks from Dave Gibbons, Peter Cha, and Ken Fong. Also see the photo gallery.

the future of religious charities

Chronicle of Philanthropy hosted an online discussion last month on the future of religious charities. These 3 panelists fielded questions:

  • William O’Keefe, the senior director of advocacy for Catholic Relief Services, in Baltimore, an organization that receives federal money to provide overseas development aid.
  • Paul Lichterman, an associate professor of sociology and religion at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, and co-editor of the book Civic Life in American Religion.
  • Joshua Hale, executive director of the Big Shoulders Fund, in Chicago. The fund has raised more than $155-million to help defray tuition and operating costs for 93 of Chicago’s most-needy inner-city Catholic schools.

Read the chat transcript online.

Conversation about Homosexuality & the Asian American Christian Church

I just got word of this special event from Pastor Ken Fong of Evergreen LA . This conversation is especially for Southern California Asian American evangelical churches and they are making a short film about this for release in the coming year.

Saturday, May 10, 7:00 p.m. @ Sanctuary of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles

WE NEED TO TALK: A Conversation about Homosexuality & the Asian American Christian Church. Sponsored by the Christian Social Issues (CSI) group, an informal gathering of Asian American Christians who discuss wide-ranging social issues and how they relate to our Christian faith. Join three old friends – two straight and one gay – who will engage in a conversation that needs to happen more often in order to dispel ignorance, quell fear and hatred, and foster greater understanding. Debate about scriptural interpretation or scientific evidence is not within the scope of this dialogue. It is not our intent to resolve this highly complex issue. Though we may ultimately arrive at different conclusions, at the very least, we need to break the awful silence in our churches surrounding this subject. We really need to talk.

If you have a friend or loved one who is gay, or you are gay yourself, or you are a Christian who is concerned about this issue, please join us in this much needed and long-awaited dialogue.