Asians are increasingly filling the ranks of participation and leadership of Christian ministries on American campuses, particularly Ivy League and other prestige institutions.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (Feb. 2) reports that such long-established Christian clubs and ministries as InterVarsity and Campus Crusade are experiencing a dramatic ethnic shift. For example, last year at Stanford, Berkeley and Yale, about 85 percent of students who attended multiethnic Christian fellowships were Asian, reports David Cho. Over the last 15 years, InterVarisity saw the number of Asian Americans in its ranks increase by 267 percent nationwide, from 992 to 3,640, and by 605 percent at colleges in New York and New Jersey (from 97 to 684).
During the same period, all-Asian Christian fellowships grew more than multiethnic Christian groups. When fellowships reach a point of attracting a largely Asian following, the group takes on a cultural flavor that serves as a magnet for attracting other Asian students–some coming into contact with Christianity for the first time. When this happens, white students tend to feel out of place in the group and leave, says Jim Om, a Korean pastor New York’s predominantly white Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
But many of the Asian fellowships have a contemporary feel to them — praise songs and rock bands have often replaced traditional hymns. Cho adds that this new yet strong Christian voice has brought increased opposition and criticism of Christianity on campus. The end result of this resurgence may be that the business and “professional world will soon experience” an influx of conservative Christian Asians.