By Andy Pearce
Southern Californians are known for casual attire, even at formal or semi-formal events. Most Southern California church-goers, for example (including the Evergreen-SGV congregation), often wear shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops. Evergreen-SGV pastors only wear suits and ties on special occasions. At some local churches pastors wear jeans, a polo shirt, and casual shoes.
So you might have wondered why I am often wearing a suit and tie as I worship with my family at the 8:00 am service at Evergreen-SGV. It is because I will be preaching at an Indonesian church later in the morning. Pastors and guest preachers at most first generation Asian churches in the U.S. are expected to wear suits and ties.
A good follow-up question might be: How did I end up preaching at Indonesian churches, especially since I only know how to say "thank you" and "you're welcome" in Indonesian? Many Indonesian Christian families send their sons and daughters to colleges and universities in Southern California, and they usually prefer to attend Indonesian churches that are often connected to their church back home. It turns out there are 45 Indonesian churches in Southern California! The
students like a service with other young people, some of whom were born in the U.S. The service is therefore in English, but the churches are relatively small and normally have one pastor who preaches mostly at the larger Indonesian language service.
I have met quite a few Indonesian students and young adults, but they don’t attend our Friday night Bible studies because they are involved with their churches. I was invited to preach at the English service at one of the churches because of the need for a sermon in English. I enjoyed the opportunity to go to them and invest in their spiritual
growth. Because the Indonesian Christian community is very well-connected, I now have regular invitations at three different Indonesian churches. I am thankful to be able to impact the lives of these international students and young adults by filling a need within the churches.
One of the churches combines the English and Indonesian services at the beginning, so I am also enjoying learning how to sing praise songs in Indonesian. The joy of worshipping in another language and the privilege of preaching from God’s Word is very encouraging. It is worth the discomfort of wearing a suit and tie, especially on a hot summer day!
“You have put more joy in my heart” (Psalm 4:7a ESV)