Testimonies of Overseas Chinese
By Rev Yina Chow
May 7, 2023
I had the opportunity to attend the 7th Chinese Alliance World Fellowship (CAWF) Conference in mid-March in Manchester, Britain. Its theme was “Mission Next! New Waves in New Era.” A total of 203 delegates from 21 countries attended the conference. Through the admirable sharing of mission teams and church pastors from different places, I felt as if I had traveled around the world and learned the history of overseas Chinese churches in the short span of a few days. I was amazed at the wondrous and awe-inspiring work of the gospel that God has been doing at various mission fields through the Christian and Missionary Alliance!
Diaspora Missiology is a hot topic in recent years. The word “disperse” was first used in the Old Testament to refer to the process of Jews being taken captive beyond Israel. It was also used in the New Testament to depict God’s people – the mass exodus of followers of Christ to foreign nations temporarily or permanently due to persecution or other reasons. But as far as today’s believers are concerned, dispersion in foreign lands is no longer confined to personal or family considerations. It is also an affirmation of our identity: “chosen people” of God (1 Peter 2:9), and an unforgettable mission: “You will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Statistics indicate there are more than 60 million overseas Chinese worldwide. How can these scattered disciples testify in the vast harvest field?
The father of modern missions, William Carey, has said, “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” When I spread out my map, I see the Chinese Christian communities that I have served in the past. I see old Chinese migrants, businesspeople, restaurant workers, students and scholars, retirees, and new NPAC migrants in the UK that I have just visited. Their testimonies can no doubt become a book of testimonies. Due to limited space, I will only briefly mention a few below.
The mobility of overseas Chinese is high and resources in the fields vary. Missionaries and pastors are always in the mode of pioneering, accelerated discipleship and intensive training. Equipping believers is an urgent task as believers are the greatest resource for supporting the pastoring in churches in under-staffed places where they are dispersed. A lady who recently arrived Europe came to Christ after spending a few months in a missionary’s home, and she also nurture seekers. A brother with a doctoral degree was moved at a training course and willingly serves the Lord in full-time ministry, leaving behind his dreams and wealth. Businesspeople and scholars who are new believers boldly testify for the Lord at all costs on return to their home countries, spreading the gospel to relatives and colleagues. When missionaries visited the churches these people attended in their countries of origin, they saw the fruit of their labor all sitting around them. It was amazing how one seed could bear multiple fruit. Some early Chinese migrant believers have made generous offerings to buy a church premise to prepare space for believers. Believers who hunger and thirst for righteousness would drive for hours to attend worship services. There are lay ministry leaders who have to spend a few hours on the train to and from the church to attend a training class. There are also lay ministry leaders who proactively volunteer to serve in the important roles of Bible study leaders, Sunday School teachers, pianists, praise team members, etc.
All these testimonies add depth to the meaning of dispersion: “Scattered afar and asunder; gather in the house of God”!