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Chinese focus on healthy Baptist church plants

ST. LOUIS (BP) — George Hsu borrowed from the adage “a penny saved is a penny earned,” in telling Chinese Southern Baptists of his ministry at Chinese Baptist Church in the St. Louis suburb of St. Peters, Mo., which has dwindled from 100 to 30 members.

“I need some help … to help save this church,” Hsu said. “A church saved is a church planted.”

Hsu was among about 30 who attended the informal gathering and dinner of Chinese Baptist Fellowship of U.S. and Canada during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, including Chinese-American pastors, North American Mission Board church planters, missionaries, ministers and laypersons from across the U.S. and Vancouver, B.C.

Fellowship liaison officer Peter Leong presided during the gathering with input from trailblazers in Southern Baptist Chinese church planting, including NAMB national church planting catalyst Jeremy Sin and senior pastor Ted Lam of Tulsa International Baptist Church in Oklahoma and a former Baptist Convention of Oklahoma executive.

“We believe that somehow God has put Chinese in your heart,” Lam told those gathered at the dinner at the Marriott Hotel. “We are facing tremendous challenge in Chinese ministry,” he said, in efforts to reach immigrants and student populations.

There are more than 300 Baptist Chinese churches in the U.S. and Canada. This includes 70 Chinese churches, Lam said, that were planted in the past two or so years.

“We give the glory to God. We do have a strategy to go out in every state and plant a church planting seed, and the church plant gradually will come up,” Lam said. “We don’t want to plant a church modeled after China, after Hong Kong, or Taiwan,” he said, but modeled after the U.S. “We believe Southern Baptists will send the best doctrine of faith to Chinese people. If we don’t plant churches for Chinese, somebody [else] will.”

Among success stories was the report of 15 baptisms in the past year at the First Mandarin Chinese Church plant in Cleveland, including eight parents who returned to China after visiting their children enrolled in school in the U.S., and the report of two Mandarin churches planted in Seattle in the past year. There, NAMB missionary Sam Shepherd is launching a new partnership with the International Mission Board and the Seattle International Learning Center to host five interns from mainland China for up to two years, train them in evangelism and send them back to China to launch missions there.

Sin thanked the fellowship and its member churches for their support in reaching Chinese communities.

“The reports you share, they are answers to the Lord’s Prayer,” Sin said. He encouraged Chinese churches to establish close relationships to Chinese seminarians, mentoring and coaching them in Southern Baptist church culture and ministry.

“What if we have 10 or 15 churches who are willing to take in seminarians, have them to serve as interns,” he said, “and then these are churches that will really multiply themselves. … This is a vision, it’s not a fantasy. We pray that churches that the Lord has blessed so much … that they will be a channel of blessings to many new church plants.”

Others in attendance included Sung Jin Park, dean of Asian Studies at Midwestern Seminary, who announced plans to hire a director of Chinese studies.

Leong encouraged those present to attend the 19th Biennial Conference Sept. 27–29 at Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church in Vancouver. Themed “Thy Kingdom Come,” the event will include business meetings, the election of officers, Bible studies and workshops focusing on topics including biblical marriage.

The conference will include a revival at Vancouver’s Immanuel Baptist Church with preaching by Ian Buntain, lead teaching pastor of the conference host church. Workshop and Bible study leaders will include Buntain and Albert Ting, senior pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church of Walnut, Calif., and former president of Singapore Bible College in Singapore.

A registration form for the Vancouver meeting is available at cbfusacanada.org/2016CBFRegistrationForm.pdf.