God has brought many different people together to form this church called Evergreen SGV. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t fit the “typical” profile. For one, I don’t have any Asian blood in me. But I also didn’t grow up in SoCal (I’m proud to be an Oregonian). I don’t live in the San Gabriel Valley but “way out east” in Claremont, where we get comments like “That’s by San Bernardino, right?” (In case you’re wondering, Claremont is still LA County, and San Bernardino is 30 miles east.) And on the more superficial level, I don’t drive a silver Odyssey, I’ve never vacationed in Mammoth, and I don’t have an annual pass to Disneyland. I do like basketball though, but I only played one season in the Men’s League (because, as you know, I live “way out east” near San Bernardino).
So how did I end up at Evergreen SGV? And how did I “stick” in spite of the differences in my ethnicity and background? How did my family get enfolded into the community and ministry of this church?
Our initial connection to Evergreen SGV was through my sister-in-law, Josie Leung, when we were anticipating our move down to SoCal to serve with Asian American Christian Fellowship at Cal Poly Pomona. We visited with Josie at the Rosemead site shortly before the hive, then when we moved down we started attending the Sunday service at Rio Hondo.
Since we were transplants to Southern California, we were planning to visit other churches too, but two main factors kept us coming back to Evergreen SGV: children’s ministry and the Diamond Bar Branch. Our daughter Janna was about 2 years old at the time, and we were blessed by the quality of the children’s ministries available for her. We met other families with toddlers, and a couple of them invited us to join their Branch summer get-together for a BBQ and swimming. Turns out that was the Diamond Bar Branch, which was the closest one to where we lived. Turns out there were several young families like ours in that Branch. And it turns out (this was definitely God orchestrating) that there were two other Caucasian/Asian marriages (including the Branch shepherd, Elliott Snuggs) represented! So we felt right at home.
Looking back on it now, I think it’s clear that the main reason we “stuck” at Evergreen SGV is because of people. Obviously there were other contributing factors—like we appreciated the Biblical teaching and the value placed on family, which are certainly not insignificant—but it was the relationships with people that kept us coming back and moved us eventually to commit to membership and start serving in ministries.
So do not underestimate the significance of a simple invitation that you can extend to someone who is looking for a deeper connection in our church. Who knows? Your hospitality and initiative may be what they look back on later as the main factor that helped them “stick” in our church.