Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and the Asian American Movement
by Lorae Kinseth, Communications Department Writer/Editor
May 1, 2014—When Tom and Dana Steers launched the Asian American Ministries of The Navigators in 1989, Tom knew their launching pad would always be prayer.
“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, then U.S. Director Terry Taylor asked us to develop the ministry nationally. It was birthed through prayer and continues to have prayer as its focus. We labor in prayer often and with intensity.”
God is answering.
“God has blessed us into being a movement of the Gospel,” Tom says.
The Asian American Movement of The Navigators now has 16 staff, 171 active laborers in the United States, and 283 active laborers in Asia.
With 18.5 million Asian Americans in the States, and about 4.5 billion people of Asian descent in the world, 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.”
Ministering in the Asian American community is full of opportunity for The Navigators—people who value families and relational networks in discipling the nations, Tom says.
“God has led us to focus on this core Navigator value in our work with Asian-Americans,” Tom says. “God is blessing this focus. Many family members of our network have been reached. But it’s not simple or easy. We are dealing with families who have been following other religious traditions for centuries. This means we are constantly on a learning curve of how to advance the Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom. We’re paying attention to cultural context.”
God’s Purpose in the Power of Prayer
God is always working behind the scenes, moved by our prayers, sovereign in His methods. A recent example of this sovereign impact in the AAM is one of Tom’s favorite stories to tell.
“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.”
Tom needed only pray and watch God move.
“This year, God brought a Mongolian student to study here, and he became my friend. This student is now befriending a community of people from the unreached group I’d been praying for. This is a keen clue in how God is reaching the nations in the United States—often, He moves us to pray, and uses laborers from outside our nation to reach people groups living here.”
As The Navigators and the Asian American Movement celebrate this May’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, we take time to honor our Asian-Pacific American brothers and sisters, and to pray for God’s continued movement among people of Asian descent worldwide.
“This month is a blessing,” Tom says. “It blesses and dignifies people who came to America to better their lives, who make enormous contributions, and who make our nation stronger. It’s also a reminder of our Navigator Calling to labor and disciple among the lost of every tribe and tongue.”
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 101:
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Though the Asian-Pacific American culture has been honored in some official form since 1977, it wasn’t until 1992 that the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law. (asianpacificheritage.gov/about.html)