Hungry for God’s word: the Chinese community in Canada
Practising the Christian faith in China is difficult. But in Canada Chinese Christians can live their faith publicly and do so full of enthusiasm. Within the New Apostolic Church in the country they constitute a separate ethnic group.
Canada is home to people from all parts of the world: immigrants, most of whom have been in the country for many years if not generations. One of these ethnic groups, the Chinese community, is growing rapidly. This is something that is also being felt in the Christian congregations in the country, because their hunger for the faith is immense. The Christian faith in China, of course, tends to be of minor importance, but when Chinese immigrants come to Canada they hear and learn a lot about God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The spiritual growth of the so-called NAC Chinese focus team is tremendous. Thanks to many volunteers and supporters, members of the team spread the gospel to the Chinese community in the country and provide pastoral care. They even have their own website .
Pioneering work for the last 30 years
One of the pioneers of this work was John Chen, a Shepherd, who has been retired since January 2016. He came to Canada in the 1980s already to study theology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. And then there is Dr Zhu, who holds a doctorate in radio frequency. He is an Evangelist and the rector of the Waterloo Chinese congregation. They receive loving support from some of the “veterans” of this work, such as District Elder Herb Pache, who is now over 80 years of age, and many others.
There are three Chinese congregations in the country: Waterloo, Willowdale (Toronto), and Port Credit (Mississauga), all in the province of Ontario. They are not really autonomous congregations as such, but are members of existing congregations, and attend the regular divine services. Once a month, however, the Waterloo Chinese congregation has its own monthly Sunday service in Chinese. Otherwise the divine services are conducted in English, sometimes with a simultaneous translation into Chinese or with the call-up of a Chinese-speaking minister, who summarizes the most important points of the sermon.
The integration process works well
Most Chinese members came to Canada directly from China, some also from Taiwan or Vietnam. Many of them have lived in Canada for a long time. The congregations use the KJV/CUNP Bible, an English-Chinese bilingual Bible, as well as a New Apostolic hymnal in Chinese, which was printed in Canada in 1995.
As for integration into the regular congregations, District Apostle Helper John Sobottka says, “The congregations fully support our Chinese focus work, as do the ministers who serve there.” He says that the efforts among the Chinese community will not only continue, but will be expanded. Today there are forty Chinese members in the congregation of Waterloo alone, of whom twenty-five attend the services regularly.
In April there was a special service in celebration of the Chinese Ching Ming Festival. It is celebrated to honour and commemorate dead ancestors, and is a traditional Chinese holiday in mainland China. Evangelist Zhu conducted the divine service and based it on Matthew 6: 11: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This was followed by a question-and-answer session on the Catechism. And in February, for example, there was a workshop for the Chinese congregation on the topic of “Science and the Bible”.