LAKELAND – Florida Baptists’ Asian Americans congregations will launch their first meeting as the Asian American Church Fellowship on Sept. 23 at the Baptist Building in Jacksonville.
“The inaugural gathering of the Asian American Fellowship for Florida Baptists will be a time of information, inspiration and fellowship,” said Tommy Green, Florida Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer. He recognized “the leadership of pastor Pablito Lucas in this exciting ministry.”
Pablito “Lito” Lucas, pastor of Philippine International Christian Fellowship Church in Lakeland, will lead the fellowship and said he anticipates the Sept. 23 gathering to be a time to inspire all churches to be on mission in planting new churches and reaching their communities.
During the Challenge 2025 gathering held in February, a group of Asian American pastors discussed creating a fellowship to network among the 80 Florida Baptist congregations of Asian descent. These churches include Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian, Karen, Cambodian, Japanese and Thai, according to the facilitators.
The group estimated that half a million Asians live in Florida with persons from India and Pakistan representing the largest numbers.
The challenge many Asian pastors face, Lucas shared, is language. While some Asian groups including the Filipinos speak English, other groups communicate primarily in their native language. The barrier has left many in Asian churches feeling isolated not just from the communities where they live, but also from other believers.
Lucas understands that situation perfectly because he experienced it firsthand. Originally from the Philippines, the Lakeland pastor immigrated to the United States to study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. After graduation, he and his wife moved to Florida to plant Philippine International.
While he didn’t know any other Asian pastors in the area at the time, Lucas was determined to “not allow this isolation to stop me from being a part of the convention, so I involved myself through the association,” he said.
Today, his church of 22 years has planted another church in Winter Haven. “Through cooperation among believers, much can be done,” he added.
He identified additional concerns experienced by Asian American churches. “Not knowing how to reach out to the lost in their community and feeling isolated from the faith community are some of the other challenges facing our churches right now.”
Lucas’ vision for the Asian American Church Fellowship is that it will become a hub for Asian pastors to partner, encourage and support each other to reach their individual communities with the Gospel.
“A community needs Chinese Bibles. Okay, who has them and who can help?” he poses as an example of how pastors can come alongside each other through the fellowship.
“God is bringing the nations to Florida and we are committed as a family to reach Florida for Christ,” added Green. “Our Asian American churches are vital to every aspect of our Challenge 2025 goals.”