We may be quite familiar with the apostle Paul’s description of “spiritual teamwork” from 1 Corinthians 3:7, but we sometimes forget that God often still uses that same approach today. When it comes to advancing the Kingdom of God, there are no “lone wolves.” That’s something Tom and Dana Steers, who work with The Navigators Asian American Ministries, understand first-hand.
Tom and Dana launched the ministry for The Navigators in 1989. “It started slowly, like the mustard seed Jesus talked about,” Tom says. “That little seed was planted in 1976, when Dana and I started working with Asian Americans in Los Angeles. By 1989, we were asked us to develop the ministry nationally.”
The ministry now has 16 Navigator staff, 171 active volunteers in the United States, and 283 active volunteers in Asia. That core group is reaching out to the 18.5 million Asian Americans residing in the United States, and roughly 4.5 billion people of Asian descent scattered throughout the world. And Tom says this harvest field is ripe for spiritual revival.
“God’s Spirit is moving and bringing people of Asian descent to Himself like never before in history,” Tom says. “It’s happening now! And we are experiencing it.”
The Asian American community presents lots of opportunity. “These are people,” says Tom, “who value families and relational networks. Those are very desirable characteristics when you’re goal is to disciple the nations.”
Tom and Dana, however, aren’t working alone.
“Ten years ago, I discovered there were around 15,000 immigrants from a certain unreached Asian people group living in the United States,” Tom says. “God gave me a deep burden for prayer—that He would raise up culturally-relevant laborers to work with this group.” So Tom began to pray.
“This year, God brought a Mongolian student to study here in the U.S. and we became friends. This student is now befriending a community of people from the unreached group I’d been praying for.” Tom says this is one big way God is reaching the nations from here within the United States. “Often, He moves us to pray, and then He uses laborers from outside our nation to reach the people groups living here.”
“God is blessing our focus on prayer,” Tom says. “Many family members within our network have been reached, but it’s not simple or easy. We are interacting with Asian American families who have followed other religious traditions for centuries. We really have to pay attention to cultural context as we relate. We’re constantly on a learning curve when it comes to advancing the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom in a culturally relevant, but biblical way.”
The good news is that they don’t have to do it alone. They may plant the seed, but others water it, and God makes it grow!