Stephen Nghiem, a pastor at the Vietnamese Christian Community Church, was born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1951. After moving to South Vietnam at age three, Nghiem spent his early life in Saigon, where he graduated from college with a degree in economic laws. In 1978, he and his family left Vietnam by boat, spent nine months in a Malaysian refugee camp, and were then sponsored by a United Methodist church to resettle in Shannon, Illinois. From Shannon, Nghiem moved to Portland where he went back to college. He studied at Clackamas Community College before transferring to Portland Community College and then to Portland State University. While working for Wacker Siltronics, Nghiem studied at seminary bible college and eventually received a master’s degree in divinity. Nghiem has been a full-time pastor at the Vietnamese Christian Community Church since 2006.

This interview begins with Stephen Nghiem giving a brief overview of his life in Portland, and then moving on to talk about his early life in Vietnam. Nghiem describes the process of seeking refuge in Malaysia and then the United States. Next, he discusses his travels in the United States and how he came to settle in Portland. Nghiem goes into detail about his academic career in Portland and then his career as an engineer. He moves on to describe his time as a pastor and the variety of programs and groups that he is affiliated with. Nghiem then describes social issues that he sees in his community and his philosophies on the generational differences between immigrants. He also discusses how his children have explored their heritage.