Campus Ministries Take Different Approach in Response to Cultural Diversity

( [email protected] ) Jan 21, 2004 01:47 PM EST

As the campus ministries across the nation are growing in number of second-generation immigrants, many of the groups are taking a different approach in reaching out to the college students as the community becomes more culturally diverse.

Many campus groups are recognizing bicultural or multicultural experience of the immigrant students and they are trying to utilize it at best for the ministry purposes. According to Newsobserver, In 2002-2003, Duke University's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship had about 75 regular participants, with about 40 percent Asian-American, 40 percent white, 10 percent African-American and 10 percent biracial, according to Joseph Ho, staff leader for the group.

"For instance, when we had a predominantly white leadership culture, 'evangelism' was seen more as bringing our faith out into the broader campus community. For our Asian population, evangelism has also meant more of 'inviting potential seekers into our community.' Both are important, but our growing ethnic diversity has helped broaden our understanding and practice of outreach."

Ho said he sees two challenges for churches of the immigrant groups as their second generation grows up. The first is maintaining their ethnic tradition within churches while at the same time dealing with the second generation who are becoming more Americanized. Second, helping the second generation to engage with the broader church.

"Second-generation immigrants not only are a bridge between their immigrant parents and the emerging Asian-American culture," Ho said. "Their bicultural experience also makes them a valuable bridge person in all kinds of other arenas, particularly in areas of cross-cultural and interracial conflict. Second-generation Christians need to be given that kind of broad vision for their place in God's kingdom."

Another group, Triangle Youth Fellowship, a faith-based nonprofit financed by the L2 Foundation, which stands for Leadership and Legacy, seeks to provide excellent leadership roles Asian American students.

"What we're doing here in the Triangle is to affirm and encourage the second generation of Asian-Americans to be leaders, to make a difference," said Alice Chou, the co-foundrer of L2.

"They have the blessings of the Asian culture, the strong family values," Chou said. "At the same time, they have been blessed with the freedom that the American culture [provides]. They have the best of both worlds."

TYF links average of 100 to 120 high school students through monthly activities and provides speakers to expose them to many opportunities. Youth from about a dozen Asian churches in the area participate in TYF's organized worship and fellowship activities.