PHOENIX (BP) — The National Asian American (NAA) Fellowship spotlighted the need for more partnerships with Southern Baptist seminaries and a desire to reach second-generation Asian Americans. The group met for its second annual meeting in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Phoenix.
The group, made up of eight Asian fellowships, was formed in October 2016 in Dallas as a fellowship specifically for second-generation Asian Americans. More than 60 were in attendance for the June 12 meeting.
The officers elected for this new fellowship were: Thomas Wong from East Brunswick, N.J., president; Ben Yi from Dallas, vice president, and Alvin Camota from Rockland, N.Y., secretary-treasurer.
Ted Lam, outgoing president of NAA, shared some words of encouragement with first- and second-generation Asians. “I want to encourage our first generation, we as a parent, we need to learn more about Americans,” he said, explaining from a cultural perspective, the first generation Asian-Americans are largely 90 percent Asian and 10 percent American while their children are largely 10 percent Asian and 90 percent American. “We need to bring the gap together … or else there will never be leadership in the entire ministry here.”
Lam also urged the second-generation Asians to “respect your parents. We carry some very rich culture behind. Keep that.”
Felix Sermon, secretary-treasurer for NAA, explained that there are two initiatives the fellowship is currently focusing on. One is reaching these second-generation Asians, describing them as “one of the hardest generations to reach.” The other initiative is for Asian congregations and the NAA to begin to partner with seminaries.
Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention in Ontario, Calif., shared a little about the seminary’s partnership with the NAA as well as the school’s push to more and more become a multicultural campus in every way.
Iorg shared four significant steps Gateway is currently taking to become this multicultural campus. In recent years, they have implemented a Korean/English bilingual program, a Chinese/English bilingual program, Gateway Live in Chinese, Korean and English, and a Contextualized Leadership Development program.
“Our school, we’re not slowing down,” Iorg said. “We really want to have a multicultural face on all we do. I’m delighted to be here and delighted to be your partner.”
The fellowship extended thanks to LifeWay and the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and presented Craig Featherstone, vice president of LifeWay Global, and Frank S. Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee awards “in appreciation for your leadership and support of the National Asian American Fellowship.”
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, also offered words of thanks and encouragement to the NAA on behalf of the IMB.
“I just wanted to stop in briefly to say how thankful I am for this fellowship and what it represents. When I think about Southern Baptist churches and what God is doing, I hope we are growing more and more across the board. From my perspective, as president of the IMB, if we really want to be serious about reaching the nations, then it’s going to take all the nations reaching the nations.
Platt commented on the fact that the church in China has shifted from a “mission field to a mission force.”
“I want us to be good partners together with Asian American churches across the SBC,” Platt noted.
In addition, David Jackson, church planting director/strategist for the Baptist Convention of New England, shared some of the BCNE’s plan to partner with the NAA now and in the future.
The next NAA meeting will be in June 2018 in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.