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Influx of Asians in Southern California: How Can They Be Served?

( [email protected] ) Aug 09, 2013 12:47 PM EDT
The population growth of Asians has outpaced that of Hispanics in the last 10 years, especially near California’s urban centers, according to <i>The New York Times.</i> As we reported earlier this week, some of the largest increases in the Asian population were in wealthy white suburbs in the San Gabriel Valley.
According to a study released in Sept. 2011 by the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans are now the largest group of new immigrants to the United States bringing the population of Asian Americans to a record 18.2 million. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The population growth of Asians has outpaced that of Hispanics in the last 10 years, especially near California’s urban centers, according to The New York Times.

As we reported earlier this week, some of the largest increases in the Asian population were in wealthy white suburbs in the San Gabriel Valley.

Jane Alber, who spoke on behalf of Youth For Christ in Southern California, located in Long Beach, has certainly noticed the rapid uptick in Asians. Alber went so far as to say there may have been an even bigger increase in Asian-Americans in her area during the last 10 years.

“We're highly Asian in this area. It could even be 20 percent,” Alber said of the increase in Asians during the last decade.

Alber mentioned nearby cities, such as La Puente, which is about 30 miles from Long Beach and has “almost all Asian signs.”

“There’s a few cities out here that seem to be just Asian,” she said. “And I know there’s already a lot of Asian Christians.”

Stuart Strother, professor of economics and director of China study abroad program at Azusa Pacific University, is a Christian who's previously lived in China. He said he's seen this immigration phenomenon firsthand.

"Immigrants tend to follow other immigrants. The Chinese have really displaced a lot of the Hispanics in the San Gabriel Valley," he said. "The local Christian community reaches out to them. Chinese-Americans are slow to come to faith. It's a very slow conversion."

It's been his experience that a lot of the pastors in that area are Taiwanese and a lot of the parishioners tend to be Chinese. He's found a lot more mainland a Chinese folks are arriving as of late, as opposed to those from places like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

"The new Chinese churches are usually attached to an existing church," he said. "Now, Asians and existing church populations end up in a partnership.”

Azusa has begun an Asian program that offers bilingual courses in English and Korean for various graduate degree programs in the Graduate School of Theology. This program seeks to make an impact for Christ by equipping Korean pastors and lay leaders to serve as ministers, missionaries and leaders in the Korean community throughout the world, according to the university’s website.

The City of Walnut, Calif., is one of the cities mentioned by The Times. The city has about 30,000 people and is 64 percent Asian, 24 percent Caucasian/Non-Hispanic, 19 percent Hispanic, 3 percent African-American and 6 percent “other.” The median home value is $665,000 and the median household income is about $92,000. About 32 percent of adults over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree.

A woman named Mary Su was elected in 2006 and 2010 to serve on the Walnut City Council. Su ended her second term as Mayor of Walnut in April 2013. Su is the first Asian woman to have been elected to Walnut’s City Council and the first Asian female to serve as the City’s Mayor.