Gary Wong, an American born with Chinese ancestry, doesn’t attend a Southern Baptist Church, but he was present for the June 12 Asian Collective Kickoff gathering and said he plans to attend the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting.
“I have an affinity for Baptists,” Wong said. “This is a golden opportunity to attend the Southern Baptist Convention and the Asian Collective.”
Wong was one of at least 150 people of various Asian ethnicities to attend the second annual Asian Collective Kickoff founded by Peter Yanes, executive director of the SBC’s Asian American Relations and Mobilization. The event took place as one of the ancillary meetings of the 2022 SBC annual meeting.
An active group of groups
The event’s activities included music by Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino groups, the showing of an Asian-specific Cooperative Program video, and a message from Willie McLaurin, interim CEO/President of the SBC Executive Committee.
The organization of the newest Asian group was announced, as was the creation of a new Diaspora Collective resource.
“You’re here because you want to make a difference,” Yanes said as he welcomed a larger-than-anticipated group. “In our Southern Baptist community we pray a lot.”
Yanes invited Bart Barber, one of three SBC presidential candidates to speak, clarifying that the Asian Collective wasn’t endorsing him, but merely allowing Barber a few minutes at the microphone.
“When we are all standing together, God blesses that,” Barber said.
Benefits of cooperation
The Asian-specific Cooperative Program video shared the stories of eight churches that believe in Great Commission and Cooperative Program giving, Yanes said. In the SBC there are about 2,000 churches that worship in one of 27 Asian contexts, the Asian leader said. Together those churches gave more than $3.3 million in 2020 to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Victor Chayasirisobhon, Director of Missions for Orange County Baptist Association, Samuel Lee, a military chaplain, and McLaurin all spoke of the need for unity, of being family, and of the benefit of working together.
“We’re better together,” McLaurin said at the beginning and at the end of his message from Acts 2:1. The early church was unified around its priorities, and the people were witnessing together.
“The early church was efficient and effective because they were always working together for one common cause,” McLaurin preached. “People need Jesus now.”
McLaurin encouraged his listeners to be spirit-filled. “If you depend on prayer, You can do what only God can do,” the interim executive continued. “We are better together.”
Recognition to Myanmar
Yanes recognized the organization of the Myanmar Southern Baptist Fellowship by calling several leaders to the platform. National Coordinator Hre Mang spoke about the growth of the number of churches that worship in a Burmese context. It’s a number that has grown to 128 over the last 20 years, Mang said.
But most of the churches are very small, and they’ve all been disconnected. By networking through the new Myanmar fellowship, they’ll get fellowship, training, help in ministries and in overseas missions opportunities, Mang said.
“Next year we will have Myanmar people here,” Mang said. “Now we are helping our churches become engaged with the SBC.”
Another new group, though not Asian-specific, has formed and was presented at the Asian Collective. It’s the Diaspora Missions Collective, Terry Sharp of the IMB told his listeners.
This group, comprised of people from IMB, NAMB, WMU, seminaries, state conventions and associations, are working together to collect resources for churches to work with immigrants, refugees and international college students. These resources will be available for churches that want to do ministry among people who have moved perhaps unexpectedly to the United States.
The Diaspora Missions Collective has planned a “Reaching the Nations” conference for March 9-11, 2023, in Alpharetta, Georgia. For more information see dmcollective.org.
“We want to be engaged in Southern Baptist life and ministry,” Yanes said. “When we work together, we are all stronger.”
View photos from the Asian American Collective here.
For more stories from the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, visit thebaptistpaper.org/sbc2022.