Buddhist Finds Christ at Silicon Valley Church

Sophie Nguyen, who grew up a Buddhist in Indiana, visited Eden Church in San Jose, Calif., on Father’s Day in 2017, an experience she now says ‘seriously changed my life in every way.’ NAMB photo

On Father’s Day 2017, Sophie Nguyen found herself in San Jose, close to 2,000 miles from her father back home in Granger, Ind. Nguyen and her boyfriend had moved across the United States to the Silicon Valley the year before. Since it was her first Father’s Day without her dad nearby, she took up a friend on his invitation to Eden Church.

Nguyen knew little about Christianity and didn’t understand the songs the church was singing. But God drew her in anyway.

“I had no clue what the songs meant, but I liked them,” Nguyen said. “The worship time always made me cry, but I had no idea why. But I knew there was something special here at Eden. That’s what kept me coming back.”

Nguyen’s visit to the six-month-old Send Network church plant began a series of events that eventually would lead her to the most important decision of her life.

“Walking through the doors of Eden has seriously changed my life in every way,” Nguyen said.

Daniel Atondo had started Eden Church in February of 2017 in the heart of the Silicon Valley. From the start, he designed the church to engage people “convinced church is irrelevant.”

Atondo had been on staff at a growing Southern Baptist church in Bakersfield, Calif., when God started to point him and his wife Kayla toward church planting. The couple looked at several of the major cities on the West Coast and finally settled on one of the most technology-saturated communities on the planet.

After serving as an apprentice at San Jose’s Echo Church, Atondo settled on a neighborhood in the city at the heart of some of technology’s most iconic brands. The church meets right across from eBay’s headquarters and down the street from Netflix.

With a high cost of living and a relatively low number of people who have exposure to the Gospel, San Jose remains a tough place to reach. Yet God has been faithful to the church so far. In the church’s first two and a half years, nearly 80 people have committed their lives to Christ. Twenty have been baptized.

The church has been ideally suited to reach tech workers like Nguyen, who was a social media consultant. It was the church’s ethnic diversity, however, that first intrigued her.

The daughter of Laotian immigrants, Nguyen grew up a Buddhist in a Midwestern town where Asians made up less than 2 percent of the population. She had grown accustomed to connecting Christian churches to the Anglo and African American communities.

“When I walked into Eden, there was a girl who was on the staff of the church, the only staff member other than Daniel at the time, and she was Filipino,” Nguyen said. “I was like, ‘Hey, she kind of looks like me.’ I felt comfortable. I’m from Indiana. It was hard growing up Asian there. I had never really associated the church with people who looked like me.”

Not long after showing up at Eden Church, Nguyen started attending an Alpha class, which helps non-Christians walk through the Gospel in a way that is easy to understand.

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Source: Baptist Press