Twenty Asian American leaders representing seven ethnicities gathered at the International Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia, May 2-4 to explore opportunities to reach the nations. This is the first time Asian leaders from across the Southern Baptist Convention have met collectively with IMB leaders to learn, encourage each other and commit to new levels of cooperation to advance the gospel. Participants included local pastors, state fellowship directors and Southern Baptist entity representatives.
IMB’s efforts to mobilize Asians is moving simultaneously with increased involvement of Asian churches within the SBC. Peter Yanes, associate vice president of Asian American relations and mobilization for the SBC Executive Commission, and Victor Chayasirisobhon, president of the California Southern Baptist Convention and first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, attended, in addition to representatives from GuideStone Financial Services.
Ezra Bae, IMB’s Asian church mobilization strategist, said he prayed for this meeting for a long time and rejoiced to see many nationalities meeting together.
“This will be a great opportunity to get to know one another and build a strong and secure relationship between the Asian Southern Baptist churches and the IMB,” Bae told participants.
“I pray that after we have this meeting, all Asian American Southern Baptist churches will be engaged with IMB to carry out the Great Commission together by praying, giving, going and sending.”
Bae shared that 280 Asian IMB missionaries are currently serving. They are the largest ethnic representation of missionaries currently serving with the IMB.
“I would like more Asian American missionaries to go from churches and more Asian churches to be able to support them,” Bae added. There are more than 2,000 Asian congregations in the SBC.
Participants heard how the IMB can resource them and equip congregations to build missions into their identity instead of making it an activity. IMB wants to offer resources to help them develop their own strategies that are culturally appropriate and best for their congregations.
Presentations included specifics about the missionary application process and opportunities for service with the IMB, from short-term trips to career appointments. Discussion in the group included the possibility of a joint discovery trip for Asian leaders.
IMB President Paul Chitwood emphasized the value of strengthening relationships between their fellowships and the IMB.
“Thank you for believing in cooperation and partnerships,” Chitwood said.
“We need more missionaries,” he continued. “Please send those candidates our way and see if God is leading them to serve with the IMB. They will be sent from your churches to reach the nations.”
Hre Mang attended, representing Burmese fellowships. Mang is senior pastor of Falam Christian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana, national coordinator of Myanmar Baptist Churches USA (MBCUSA), and vice president of Crossroad Baptist Association, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mang first became involved with the IMB in 2020. Interested in growing his church’s missions involvement, he contacted Bae for more information. The following year, his church hosted a missions training conference for local congregations.
“We can say as a result, our church has been sending a short-term mission team every year with IMB missionaries,” Mang said. “Now we have one family preparing to go for a long-term mission.”
Later this summer, Mang will lead a group of college students on a mission trip to Panama. Involving younger generations in missions, specifically second-generation Asian Americans, was a frequent topic of conversation at the event in Richmond.
Chayasirisobhon spoke in IMB’s weekly chapel service and encouraged staff and personnel joining online to be unified by becoming more selfless for God. Referring to his family’s heritage in China and Thailand, he said that seven generations ago, a nameless missionary shared the gospel with his ancestors.
“They didn’t come to make their own name great; they came to make the name above all names great — the name of Jesus,” he said. He told the crowd that his love of missionaries and his commitment to missions is central to his ministry and leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Asian fellowships and leaders are encouraged to write firstname.lastname@example.org to be directed to Ezra Bae for more information and resources for sharing the gospel among the nations.
Please visit https://www.imb.org/asian-church-missions/ for more stories and resources to promote Asian church missions opportunities.