El Monte Vietnamese church has maintained a large presence in its community by opening its doors seven days a week between Sabbath services and by hosting the Vietnamese Adventist Heritage School, which provides tutoring for students Monday through Friday and a language school on Sunday. Although these services are not available in person during the pandemic, the congregation remains accessible to their community and continues to be a safe haven for those in the surrounding neighborhood who are facing financial difficulties at this time.
The church has set aside a monthly budget to help 200 families with food. They have also partnered with a local bakery that provides 100 free baguettes each week and with local grocery stores that give discounts on rice and noodles.
Pastor Vinh Nguyen and his team of volunteers reached out to families from their after-school program. Volunteers purchase rice, seaweed, bread, and ramen noodles to distribute every two weeks. In some cases, they have even helped families with rent payments. “We look for families of single-parent households to deliver food to,” said Nguyen. “We know the children; we know which families have parents who have lost their jobs.”
Nguyen has received positive feedback from this outreach, noting that one mother was particularly grateful for the El Monte Vietnamese church because no one else sought to donate food or money for rent as they had.
In addition to this outreach, the church has learned how to reach new people and remain connected with active and non-active members, using a tool that wasn’t previously utilized as thoroughly as it is now: online evangelism. Livestream worship services in Vietnamese and English are hosted on Facebook Live. Members who don’t use computers can call in and listen to these Sabbath services. Additionally, Nguyen connects with members through Zoom Bible study groups and 5-minute recorded devotionals.
Throughout this experience, Nguyen has realized how important it is to educate, train, and motivate people for different methods of online evangelism. “I constantly seek God for direction in how to reach people through social media,” said Nguyen. “More people are on social media than ever before. I need to learn what the needs of the people are so that I can reach them.”
“Evangelism still continues,” added Nguyen, “but in a different way.”