160 leaders from across the United States came to California to initiate a movement to reach out to the Southeast Asians in America.
In the first national conference, hosted by the Southeast Asian Committee (SEAC), on Jan. 13-15, leaders were challenged to reflect upon a new generation of leaders.
"It really opened their eyes to a new paradigm in the ministry," Chairman of SEAC Ken Sem Kong said.
The keynote speakers were two well-known Asian Americans who have contributed extensively to the development of the Asian American Christian community through their books and their leadership skills.
According to Kong, Pastor Kenneth Fong of the Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, and the first keynote speaker at the conference, spoke on how the ministries developed after he joined the team at Evergreen in 1981, citing references to some of his struggles in an attempt to help the leaders learn and benefit from his mistakes.
Meanwhile, Paul Tokunaga, the national Asian American Ministry Coordinator at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, chose to center his topic on how the leaders can contribute to American society as they are now citizens of this country.
"[Tokunaga] said that for whatever reasons why we came to America, let us contribute to American society by living out our values with Americans," according to Kong.
Kong, who supports the expansion of missions among and for the southeast Asians, reflected on the difficulties of southeast Asians who have come to America despite the struggles in their own countries.
"A lot of things changed through communism," he lamented, "when the communists came and took over, they forced [southeast Asians] to adhere to the communist ideologies." As a result, he added, millions were killed in Cambodia and forced into hard labor.
Due to these reasons, the conditions of the economy, and war, many ethnic groups such as the Laotians, Hmong and Vietnamese fled their countries as refugees, he continued.
Kong observed that both speakers were able to leave a sense of hope in the participants who appreciated their messages.
Nathaniel San, the host for the conference, and also the program director of SEAC, gave the final words at the conference, encouraging the leaders to continue to lead their ministries.
Kong added, "God has a plan for us as southeast Asians."
Participants came from as far as Boston, Mass.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Chicago, Ill.; Memphis, Tenn.; Florida, Wis.; Minnesota, Texas; Ohio, Va.; Arizona, Wash. as well as California.
The SEAC hopes that by developing ministries through leaders that serve southeast Asians, they hope to start a movement in each region across the United States.