When Loc Dai Nguyen was growing up in Vietnam, his father was put in prison for being a Christian minister and sharing the good news of the gospel, Dai Nguyen said in a devotion he led at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Young Adult New Immigrant Leadership Institute last month. 

Though government persecution of Christians has lessened since then, it is still a real issue for churches in Vietnam. He recounts the day that his mother said in their nightly devotion, “We are running out of rice.” Rice is a staple in Vietnamese families, and it is eaten every day, so to say that the rice is running out has huge significance. “But God blessed our family,” Loc said. “A neighbor showed up, and she gave us a bag of rice, sharing that God urged within her heart to do so. We are grateful to God, who blesses us and leads our lives.” 

Dai Nguyen is a young adult new immigrant who serves as the minister of English Ministries at the Vietnamese United Mission in Charlotte, N.C., one of the 1001 new worshiping communities in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), led by the Rev. Phuc Nguyen and the Rev. Dai Nguyen, located at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church.

Dai Nguyen was nominated and selected as one of the 23 leaders who participated in the first Young Adult New Immigrant Leadership Institute, held Oct. 25-28, in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area. He is unquestionably one of the stellar young adult new immigrant leaders in the PC(USA). 

The leadership institute featured young adults from many different cultures and backgrounds, including Egyptian, West Indian, Brazilian, Ghanaian, Zambian, Indian (from India), Indonesian, Kenyan and Pakistani new immigrant leaders. The objective of the institute was to identify, inspire, equip and connect new immigrant young adults leaders who might serve in the future in even greater leadership roles in PC(USA) worshiping communities. Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries in the Presbyterian Mission Agency is seeking to be proactive in providing leadership development opportunities for new immigrant young adults.

There are now more new immigrant ministries in the PC(USA) than ever. Many of these ministries are a result of Presbyterian international mission work generations ago. Today new immigrant Presbyterians engage faithfully and passionately in their own mission work in the United States. This is reflected by the many new immigrant worshiping communities in the PC(USA), including congregations, Bible study fellowships and new church developments. As the number of new immigrant ministries increases, being sure that there are leaders who have the gifts and skills to assume pastoral and other leadership roles in immigrant worshiping communities is important.

At the Young Adult Leadership Institute, Loc conducts a dynamic exercise that illustrates the importance of unity during devotion.

At the Young Adult Leadership Institute, Loc conducts a dynamic exercise that illustrates the importance of unity during devotion. —Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries

At the leadership institute, there were also opportunities for networking, leadership development and vocational discernment. Young adults explored their “call” and were introduced to Presbyterian-related theological seminaries, the Church Leadership Connection and General Assembly Nominations processes.

The institute might lead some of its participants to consider seminary, to take the steps to serve as commissioned ruling elders and/or to discern how God might be calling them to some other form of church service. 

Nomination forms were sent to new immigrant pastoral leaders earlier this year, and nominations were open to young adult new immigrants between the ages of 23-35 who lead and serve in a Presbyterian worshiping community. 

The Young Adult New Immigrant Leadership Institute is new this year to Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries and surpassed expectations of providing resources to young adult men and women who are considering leadership opportunities in the church.

 “What a pleasure and an honor it was for me to participate in this leadership institute,” Loc said, “to learn from passionate leaders and to be with so many other young persons who want to serve the church.”