In the first national Southeast Asian Leadership Summit, more than 120 Christian leaders from all over the United States convened on Friday for a conference focused on the Southeast Asian community.
In Long Beach California, leaders will be encouraged, enabled and engaged to serve Southeast Asians to ensure another generation of leaders will not be "discouraged."
"We don't want to lose a generation of leaders because often they can get discouraged in an immigrant church" Tom Steers, one of the coordinators of the event said. "They are becoming more Americanized, but often the pastors do not."
Steers said the Summit hopes to connect participants to a new generation of leaders of Cambodians, Laotians, Thais, Hmong, and Vietnamese, the children of refugee parents who had great difficulties leaving their countries.
"These are a new generation of leaders," and "we want to encourage these leaders and equip them." Steers said.
"There are a lot of Asian American Christian leaders that leave Christ," he continued adding that their hope is "to see a generation that prospers."
One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Kenneth Fong, senior pastor of the Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, was the main speaker on Friday. Fong is well-known for his Bible studies deliberated around the world, and as the senior pastor of Evergreen he helped chart its growth as the first English ministry for Chinese and Japanese Americans since 1981.
The seminar tracks on Friday were led by Rev. O'B O'Brien, a church planter, pastor, missionary, a manager for refugee medical work who is currently helping next generation churches get started, Dr. Russell Yee, a professor at the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley California and Fuller Northern California in Menlo Pak in the areas of worship and pastoral theology, Panya Sayavongsa, a Laotian youth minister at First Laotian Baptist Church, Dr. Russell Jeung, an assistant professor in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University and Daniel Schmitz who helped church plant New Hope Covenant, a church in Oakland where he is now the pastor.
The Southeast Asian Committee was established for the purpose of encouraging, developing and mobilizing leaders within the Southeast Asian American Christian community to "impart a legacy upon this generation, so that they will display a Christ-centered lifestyle."
The Summit began on January 13 and will end on January 15 with final words from the Committee.