Hello, my name is Vinh Nguyen. I am the Director of the Asian-Pacific Region here in the Southern California Conference. Today, I want to talk with you about one of our core values here in SCC: “Unity in Diversity.” It reads as follows: We recognize that the local church is the hope of the world, and we are confident we can accomplish infinitely more together than apart.
According to the 2023 U.S. Census, there are more than 10 million people living in Los Angeles County. That is an incredible number of people living in one place. Do you know that Los Angeles County is the highest populated county in the whole nation? Within L.A. county, 1.5 million people are Asian and Pacific Islanders. How could the church reach all these people groups?
The Southern California Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has strategically organized the Asian-Pacific Region to reach the diverse audience we serve. With much effort through the years, as of today, there are 33 Asian-Pacific congregations that speak 12 different languages, from Chinese to Filipino to Mongolian, just to name a few. The membership of the SCC Asian-Pacific region is more than 6,000 people.
Even though diversity within the Asian-Pacific Region is complex, with different languages, cultures, and multiple generations of immigrants, when the people of God are unified, it will bring many benefits. Let me give you some examples. The Deloitte Review states that diversity in a team could improve decision-making by 20%! Let’s think about what that could mean in the church: diversity can improve our decisions for outreach and evangelism, too. According to Harvard Business Review, the companies with high diversity have 19% higher innovation revenues. So, when churches are diverse, they have many more creative ideas to meet the community’s needs. Another benefit is that organizations with high diversity levels are 70% more likely to capture new markets. How does this affect our church? The more diverse the church is, the more likely it will reach more people groups, whereas the less diverse the church is, the less likely it will reach diverse populations.
With the understanding of the benefits of diversity within our churches, we could reach everyone. The book of Revelation described the spreading of the gospel in the last days, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).
At 15 years old, Dao Pham was living in Vietnam, but desired to further her education in the United States of America. By providence, she was able to attend San Gabriel Academy. She was soon invited by other young people to attend the El Monte Vietnamese SDA church services nearby. She learned beautiful truths about the Bible and the loving God of the universe, and it touched her young heart. After two years, Dao accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and was baptized. She soon shared the good news with her mother, Mrs. Duyen Nguyen in Vietnam. At the graduation of Dao in La Sierra University, Mrs. Duyen was able to come and witness the graduation and visit the El Monte Vietnamese church. Mrs. Duyen learned the Sabbath truth from her daughter and began attending the local Seventh-day Adventist Church back home. The pastor there gave her Bible studies, and she soon was also baptized! Praise the Lord for His providence and leading!
Let me close with this encouraging statement from Ellen White. “If we were quick in discerning the opening providences of God, we should be able to see in the multiplying opportunities to reach many foreigners in America a divinely appointed means of rapidly extending the third angel's message into all the nations of earth. God in His providence has brought men to our very doors and thrust them, as it were, into our arms, that they might learn the truth, and be qualified to do a work we could not do in getting the light before men of other tongues” (Evangelism, p. 570).
What a charge for us here in Southern California and throughout the world! Thank you so much for joining us today. We invite you to share with us in the comments your experiences and thoughts how we can embrace diversity and share Jesus with those around us. May God bless you as we work together for His mission here in the Southern California Conference.