My family has a book of our family’s history, a genealogical record that begins in 1115 BC in China. It is a story of 122 generations of the Chung family now dispersed to many parts of the world. For 119 generations, my family was lost without the gospel. But God directed a missionary to a small village in Indonesia, and he shared the gospel with a young man. For the first time in almost 3000 years, our history mentions a believer in Jesus Christ. This young man would become a pastor, emigrate to America, and pastor one of the largest Chinese SBC churches. This man is my father. I believe in missions because I am a byproduct of missions.
I am also an immigrant. Born ethnically Chinese in Indonesia and immigrating to America when I was three. My generation is bicultural, existing in multiple cultures yet not belonging to any, always adapting and having to be flexible. My family could navigate multiple cultures but were never at home in any of them. The only place that felt like home was in the church, because Christ and the gospel made us one. The immigrant church is all I knew growing up, was where I was saved. After that I served in Chinese immigrant churches.
From my background, I believe that ethnic churches are filled with ready-made missionaries. First, like the apostle Paul who initially went to the synagogues on his missionary journeys to reach His own people, ethnic churches can more easily reach nations and peoples from where they emigrated. There is no need to acculturate and acclimate them.
Secondly, the ability to adapt to multiple cultures is a skill set necessary for missionaries, but already built-in for those in American ethnic churches. Therefore, we need to engage, invest, and resource ethnic churches in California because they are filled with potential missionaries. We need to raise the standard and call them into the field because for far too long, they have not been part of the conversation.
According to Lifeway, “With 1,376 congregations, ethnic minority fellowships represent 61 percent of all congregations in CSBC; this compares to 22.4 percent nationally.” This rich diversity is a hallmark of CSBC and is a potential pool for ready-made missionaries that can reach the nations with the gospel. This also means that if we reach California for Christ, we reach the nations because the nations are in California.
I believe the most important task for us in reaching California and the world for Christ is for the church to cry out to God. We need desperate prayers, humbly calling on God to bring a spiritual revival that would see millions in California come to faith in Jesus. From California, this will spread not only to our nation, but throughout the world. California plays a pivotal role because of its influence in technology and culture. Therefore, California Southern Baptists have a key role to bring about this spiritual revival. I believe the time is ripe for revival. Let’s pray that it will start with California Southern Baptists!