Revised: November 10, 2014

Since Evangelical history is a relatively nascent subject, how much more so is an understanding of Asian American Evangelicals and our history.

This is NOT comprehensive, but we hope it can help us begin to sketch out what God’s been doing in us and will do in the future.

Ministries listed here are explicitly self-identify as Asian American, or Korean American or Chinese American or Southeast Asian American, etc.

If you notice any glaring omissions—and no doubt, there are many particularly among ethnic church ministries and especially in South Asian American ministries—please let us know.


Population of Asians in America:

1860: 34,933
1880: 105,613

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act
1924 Asian Exclusion Act

1930: 264,799

1946 Luce-Cellar Act: Asian Indians and Filipinos allowed to naturalize

1952: McCarren-Walter Act: Japanese, Koreans and other Asians allowed to naturalize

1940: 254,918
(0.02% of US population)

Denominations organized “Oriental” or ethnic specific groups

e.g. “Oriental Mission Conferences,” “Chinese Mission Conference,” “Japanese Mission Conference”


1942-6 Japanese internment

1943, taken by Ansel Adams of Tatsuo Miyake, a divinity student at Manzanar,


Asians in America in
1950: 321,033

1950 founding of Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society (JEMS)
Denominations dismantled ethnic specific conferences

Late 1940s-50s:
Rise of New Evangelicals:

Billy Graham, National Association of Evangelicals (1942), Youth for Christ (1944), Fuller Theological Seminary (1947), Campus Crusade (1951), Christianity Today (1956), etc.
Spirit of optimistic Christian reform

1957 Graham adds African American Howard Jones to his preaching team:
“You should not have a Negro on your team...You’re going to ruin your ministry by adding minorities....We may have no choice but to end our support.”


Asians in America in
1960: 980,337
(0.05% of US population)

1965 Immigration Act opened doors to immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Civil Rights Movement: rise of racial consciousness

Late 1960s: “Asian American” coined. (Before this, “Oriental," "Asiatic," "Mongoloid”)

Chinese, Japanese, Koreans begin to form own ethnic-specific Christian groups

Chinese Bible studies, influenced by indigenous Christian revivals and movements in Hong Kong, Taiwan etc grow into churches

Asians in America in
1970: 1,538,721
(0.08% of US population)

1975 IndoChina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act and 1976 Immigration Act established programs for refugees fleeing Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos
First significant numbers of second-generation Asian Americans come of age

1970 Agape Fellowship

1973 JEMS begins college campus work. 1977 JEMS names its college campus work Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF)

1974 Campus Crusade for Christ begins Intercultural Ministries for non-white American communities.

1974 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship develops Asian student outreach

1974 Pray for Asia Fellowship founded, renamed World Christian Fellowship in 1997 to mobilize Asian Americans in global missions

1974 North American Conference of Chinese Evangelicals found Fellowship of American Chinese Evangelicals (FACE) in 1978. Published About Face quarterly journal (1979-2009).

Evangelical worldwide cooperation:

1972 Explo ‘72, Campus Crusade gathers 85,000+ high school and college students

1974 Lausanne Movement gathered leaders from 150 countries for the first international congress on world evangelism

Asians in America in
1980: 3,259,519
(1.5% of US population)

Largest Asian Groups:
  • Chinese (806,040)
  • Filipino (774,654)
  • Japanese (700,974)
  • Indian (361,531)
  • Korean (354,531)

  • Early 1980s: first "Asian American" churches reach English speaking Asian Americans: Evergreen Baptist Church (1981, Rosemead, CA) and Christian Layman Church (1983, Oakland, CA). Before this, churches were single ethnic and immigrant dominated.

    Early 1980s: Iwa founded to serve Japanese, Japanese-American and Asian Americans contextualize the Gospel.

    1982 Pastoral and Laity Ministries (PaLM) founded to minister to American Born Chinese, and since 2001, Korean and other Asian Americans (New York/New Jersey)

    1986 Asian American Christian Counseling Service founded (Los Angeles)

    late 1980s: Campus Crusade US and Singapore begin Metamorphosis, a ministry to reach Asian Americans college students, renamed Epic Movement in 1998

    1988 Ministry of English Speaking Asians (MESA) founded and networked many Asian American regional leaders

    1988-93 first ethnic Asian American program at a US evangelical seminary: Chinese Studies Program pioneered at Fuller Theological Seminary.

    1989 Logos Evangelical Seminary founded in Los Angeles. Language of instruction initially in Taiwanese, changed to Mandarin in 1994.
    First Asian American seminary to be accredited by ATS in 1999.


    Asians in America in
    1990: 6,908,638
    (2.9% of US population)

    Largest Asian Groups:
  • Chinese (23.8%)
  • Filipino (20.4%)
  • Japanese (12.3%)
  • Indian (11.8%)
  • Korean (11.6%)

    54% lived in the West

    66% lived in 5 states: California, New York, Hawaii, Texas and Illinois

    66% foreign born

    75% of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotians entered US since 1975

    Median age of Asians in America: 30

  • 1995-2002 online CAC-Forum for Chinese American Christians

    1992 Catalyst Leadership Center founded to serve Korean American and other Asian American leaders

    1996 "Silent exodus" coined describing the departure of second generation Asian Americans from their home churches.

    1999 founding of what is now called: Council on Asian American Reformed Leaders (CAARL)

    Asians in America in
    2000: 11,896,828
    (3.8% of US population)

    Largest Asian Groups:
  • Chinese (2.9 million)
  • Filipino (2.4 million)
  • Indian (1.9 million)
  • Vietnamese (1.2 million)
  • Korean (1.2 million)

    49% live in the West,
    20% in the Northeast,
    19% live in the South,
    12% live in the Midwest

    51% live in just 3 states: California, New York and Hawaii

    Median age of Asians in America: 31.1 years
  • 2000 L2 Foundation formed and gathered many Asian American Christians leaders scattered nationwide for the first time.

    2001 Logos Evangelical Seminary, Asian American Ministry Track

    2003-4 Asian American Christians protest stereotypes of Asians in Vacation Bible School curriculum, Rickshaw Rally

    2004 first Southeast Asian Leadership Summit (SEALS) gathers many Southeast Asian leaders for the first time

    2004 first Asian American Leadership Conference (AALC)

    2006 Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity (ISAAC) founded

    2007 Asian Americans protest "Mee Maw" skit meant to teach Christian youth groups but stereotyped Asian Americans instead.

    2008 first 3M Conference for Chinese American Young Professional Christians, a ministry of the Layman's Foundation

    2009 Inheritance Magazine begins publishing, a ministry of Evangelical Formosan Church (EFC)

    2009 Asian North American Consultation at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, second one in 2013

    2009 Asian Americans protest stereotypes inThe Deadly Viper: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership

    Asians in America in
    2010: 17,320,856
    (4.9% of US population)

    Largest Asian groups:
  • Chinese (3.79 million)
  • Filipino (3.41 million)
  • Indian (3.18 million)
  • Vietnamese (1.73 million)
  • Korean (1.7 million)

    Nearly three-quarters of all Asian Americans live in 10 states: California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania

    46% live in the West,
    22% live in the South,
    20% live Northeast,
    12% in the Midwest

    57% in Hawaii are Asian American,
    15% in California,
    9% in New Jersey, Nevada and Washington,
    8% in New York

  • 2011: Seattle Pacific University launches Asian American Ministry Program

    2013: Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) Asian American Ministry D.Min track

    2013: Fuller Theological Seminary begins Asian American Initiative

    2013 An Open Letter to the Evangelical Church


    Comments are closed.