For many Asian Americans in the church, very few see a place for themselves in global missions. Furthermore, even fewer are ever encouraged to pursue global missions full time. What if there was another way for Asian American young adults to be involved in global missions?
Indigitous Serve cohorts help young adults find their place in global missions. The virtual program mobilizes people to collaborate and lowers barriers to get involved. Their minds are expanded and their hearts deepened for those who have not yet heard the gospel.
The Asian American Culture Hurdle
Asian American youth grow up with the same expectations as their peers outside of the church. They are told to do well in school, get a high-paying job, start a family, and then serve the church in their free time. This way, they can support global missions efforts by writing more checks.
From a cultural point of view, this dream of success came at a cost. Many of the next generation in Asian American churches come from immigrant backgrounds. These families migrated to the United States with hopes of a better life and opportunity. While missions work is a noble task, very few parents would want their child to go. Rather, missions work is reserved for others to do. Only after one had finally done well in life should they consider going into the missions field.
And it’s not just the cultural hurdles Asian American young adults face. The typical missions journey has traditionally been very linear. For church-goers who get involved in missions, their journey often starts with short-term experiences. They will go to a local missions conference like the Chinese Mission Convention. Then, for one week in the summer, they will cross the border to paint fences or help run a Vacation Bible School. Afterward, they might even take the Perspectives course to learn about missions.
Yet for many, especially Asian Americans, their missions journey stops there. If one were to follow that journey, then the next step would be to join a missions agency and be sent out. Up to this point, the ask has been for only up to a few weeks or months at a time. The traditional options were to teach English, medical missions, and discipleship-making movements. These are great and very necessary, but we also see that the next generation contains a variety of talents that can be used in new ways.
Many Asian Americans enter the marketplace with digital and creative skills. They will use their affinities and abilities for secular businesses. Yet these same skills can be used for global missions. Perhaps they just don’t know it yet. Or no one has ever nudged them in that direction. Missions organizations have many digital needs. This includes web and app development, design, marketing, and more.
Indigitous Serve Cohorts
At Indigitous (Indigenous + Digital), we encourage the next generation to use their digital skills to help spread the gospel to where it is not. This includes building digital tools and resources and implementing strategies. We’re creating a movement for young adults to engage in global missions.
The opportunity to create together was key. We want to let young adults know that their skills are valuable for missions impact.
In 2020, two Asian American students from Texas universities lead Indigitous Hackathon. During the weekend event, technologists and creatives from all over the world came together for a group project. These were coding projects that would be impactful for unreached peoples. Missions organizations and ministries would also submit their real problems as challenges. The participants found like-minded believers who were eager to work together.
At the end of this amazing weekend, the two students did not want the experience to end. Furthermore, how was it fair for their peers who missed out? Would they have to wait until next year to code for the kingdom? That night, the two brainstormed the idea for Indigitous Serve Cohorts.
Cohorts began two months after the Hackathon. It brought together young adults interested in using their digital skills for global missions. Mentors came to provide technical and missions-focused guidance. Together, they would work on a project provided as a challenge from a ministry partner.
In the first cohort in the Spring of 2021, seven young adults collaborated remotely. They tackled a challenge given by the Joshua Project: “How might we engage the next generation to learn about frontier people groups?” (Frontier people groups are a subset of unreached people groups. They have the fewest Evangelical Christians, and thus the most pressing need for pioneer missionaries.)
One Asian American young adult found a new perspective in “kingdom work” compared to her career path in medicine:
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy learning about the human body—what a remarkable creation!—and I still feel honored to be present and useful for people who might find themselves in the vulnerable position of facing their own mortality. However, I’m also reminded that despite advancements in research and medicine, there will always be a leading cause of mortality. […] Perhaps this career might not become the most meaningful work I will do.
An Asian American young adult felt she was no longer entering her missions journey alone:
I know that I am growing in this run—whether in more knowledge of where lost people groups are, whether in more heart inclination to pray for those who have never heard of Jesus, or whether in more hands-on work with my team.
Though, if I get ahead of myself, I mistakenly narrow my view and think that each outcome looks the same for every believer who wears kingdom-vision glasses—full-time missionary, drop career, move somewhere remote, and anywhere else my mind runs.
Another Asian American art student found her church now rallying behind her:
I never imagined that we’d have an official team with our church’s support and many friends and family praying for us daily. It became something much more than I anticipated.
Here were rare opportunities for young adults to question their paradigm of missions. They saw beyond the expected pathway that many Asian American Christians take.
Since this first cohort, Indigitous Serve has conducted several more projects. These include web design, app development, and even publishing an illustrated prayer guide. We’ve seen that young adults are eager to contribute 5-10 hours a week on a missional project.
Our goal with Indigitous is to catalyze believers into global missions. It can be working on a digital missions project now or going overseas for cross-cultural missions in the future. We want to encourage people to take the next step in supporting and supplementing global missions.
Many Asian American Christians had never even considered missions as an option. Now a window in missions invites them to apply their affinities and abilities. This was the type of work they want to do with their marketplace skills.
God is doing incredible work in each individual who has come through our cohorts. It has been his grace and blessing that we continue and bring others to come alongside this journey. You can find out more about Indigitous Serve Cohorts at https://idserve.us/.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Over the past few years, God has opened Nick’s heart for missions through dozens of opportunities including taking Perspectives, going on short term mission trips, and documenting and producing videos for missions. He is eager to see where God is leading him in his faith and missions, but he is …View Full Bio
Andrew Feng serves as the US Director for Indigitous which engages the next generation to use their marketplace skills beyond the four church walls. Andrew advises on global strategy related to faith and tech. He is exploring crowdsourcing missions via remote work. He aims to help young adults utilize their abilities to support the great commission. Andrew and …View Full Bio
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