Asian Baptists ‘just getting started’ on mission together in SBC

Asian Baptists ‘just getting started’ on mission together in SBC

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – “We’re just getting started!” Victor Chayasirisobhon told more than 100 attendees of the third annual Asian Collective Kickoff Celebration June 9.

Chayasirisobhon, newly named director of the Collective by the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) nine Asian fellowships, spoke after giving time to each of the fellowships’ executive directors to report on the strengths of the Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Myanmar, Thai and Vietnamese fellowships as well as the NextGen Pastors Network and Ethnic Research Network.

“We are not a mission field,” Chayasirisobhon said. “We are a missions force!”

The three-hour event that concluded with a meal also included a standing ovation for Peter and Irene Yanes. Yanes re-started the Asian Collective in 2021 that Paul Kim had begun in 2009. Yanes was given the “Abraham Award” because he followed God’s leading, Chayasirisobhon said.

Each of the fellowship leaders received a 3-inch-wide medal.

Hance Dilbeck, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, the event’s main sponsor, was the first to speak, after a welcome by Chayasirisobhon and worship led by the worship team from Falam Christian Church.

Other SBC leaders dropped by to bring greetings to the Asian leaders, such as Bart Barber, SBC president the last two years; Brent Leatherwood, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC); and Jeff Iorg, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee.

Over his years in Southern Baptist life – as a pastor, church planter, state convention executive director and most recently as a seminary president, Iorg has seen the SBC start to change from “a mono-culture on the way to positive change,” he said. “Now we’re partners on mission together.”

The Myanmar Baptist Churches USA fellowship, new last year, this year sent out its first couple as missionaries through the International Mission Board (IMB), reported Hre Mang, the group’s executive director.

“The Asian Collective indeed is the will of God,” said Dan Santiago, executive director of the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America. “We know we cannot do the work of the Gospel alone.” About 4 million Filipinos live in the U.S. About 200 Filipino churches identify as Southern Baptist.

“We are all special people in the eyes of God,” said Jeremy Sin, executive director of the Chinese Baptist Fellowship. The benefit of the Asian Collective, Sin said, is that “we can encourage one another” and “we can learn from one another.” He added, “God called us together.”

Carter Tan spoke for the Ethnic Research Network. Almost a quarter – 22.7 percent – of Southern Baptist churches are non-Anglo, Tan said. Sixty percent of new church plants are non-Anglo.

The Asian NextGen Pastors Network is a hub for English-speaking pastors in Asian churches where building relationships is a resource that can help in coalescing overlapping cultures, said Terrence Shay and Hyung Lee, two English-speaking pastors of ethnic churches.

Seang Yiv is chairman of the Cambodian Southern Baptist Fellowship. The group’s 40th anniversary will take place June 25-29 at the Fellowship’s new “Blessing Field,” a 7-acre retreat site near Statesboro, Ga. He also spoke of his book – “From the Killing Fields to the Blessing Field” – new this week on, which tells of life in Cambodia before and during the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge, culminating in the acquisition of the Blessing Field last year.

“We are a strong force in the SBC,” announced James Kang, executive director of the Council of Korean Southern Baptist Churches in America. There are nearly 1,000 Korean churches that affiliate with the Southern Baptist church, Kang said. Two goals of the Korean Council are to plant five churches and send out 70 missionaries every five years, and to match what the SBC’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) gives for Korean church plants.

Minh Ha Nguyen, president of the Ethnic Research Network, online at, carried a glass half-full of water to the podium. The glass represented work yet undone, he said. There are 100 Nepalese Southern Baptist churches, but they haven’t yet formed a fellowship, and neither have related Farsi-speaking churches.

Pao Thao, president of the Hmong Baptist National Association (formerly “Fellowship”) spoke in the absence of Executive Director Wa Tra Xiong, who died last October after a sudden illness. Thao spoke of one first-generation pastor who retired last year, and two more who have announced their retirements this year. Emphasizing the need to nurture and mentor the next generations to carry on the work developed over the last half-century.

Falam Christian Church

Earlier Sunday morning, 15 Asian pastors and leaders and their wives joined with 150 or more regular attenders for an All Asian service at Falam Christian Church in Indianapolis, where Hre Mang is pastor.

During a time of congregational singing, several languages joined in on “How Great Thou Art.

Eighteen church members went out during Crossover, and six of the people they visited made professions of faith in Jesus, Mang said. “That’s who we are,” the pastor said. “We share the Gospel.”

A choir of perhaps 10 kindergartners sang a chorus they had memorized: “Read your Bible. Pray every day. And you will grow every day.”

Black scarves with multi-colored embroidery were given to the female guests, and red patterned scarves were given to the male guests.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press.)

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