Chinese immigrants discover Christianity in the U.S.
Immigrants from China are hearing the gospel for the first time in the U.S., and they are embracing it.
World Magazine said Chinese immigrants find love, acceptance and community in Christian churches which become a refuge in a new country. Li Rong Liu, of Fujian, South China says the spirituality seems more real, too.
Liu told World Magazine, “When I was in China, I had heard of Christianity, but I didn’t think I needed it. Now in the U.S., when I’m alone and facing new hardships, here is where I find God.”
When travel restrictions eased in China in 1978, Chinese immigrants to the U.S. rose from 200,000 in 1980 to 1.4 million in 2006. Chinese churches in the U.S. increased from 366 in 1980 to more than 800 today, World Magazine said.
Liu, like many Chinese immigrants, worked as a busboy from early morning until midnight, seven days a week in a New York Chinatown restaurant. After six years he was promoted to sushi chef and works 10 hour days, World Magazine reported.
Two years ago a friend invited Liu to Church of Grace, where he met and bonded with many others from Fujian immigrants. He told World Magazine that he also saw a joy and love that he hadn’t known before.
At a Church of Grace service, Pastor Matthew Ding bases his sermon on Nehemiah 11:6-24, a genealogy of the Israelites who travelled to Jerusalem. The Chinese also treasure lineage and the passing down of teaching, World Magazine said.
Ding told the church, “You came to the U.S. to give your kids a better life, but if you don’t teach them about Christianity, what good will it be? Nothing else will last for eternity,” World Magazine reported.
Chinese culture and grace
The Confucian ethic of hard work and discipline as necessary for success may be admirable, but it does not rest easy with the concept of salvation through faith rather than works. Ding spends a lot of time talking of ‘un dian,” or grace, to drive the point home, World Magazine said,
To get more restaurant workers to church, Ding also holds late services for those working overtime, and has a telephone ministry for some 1,000 Chinese immigrant workers nationwide employed in restaurants, World Magazine reported.
In San Jose, former restaurant owner Esther Lou founded The Herald Restaurant Gospel Ministry for Chinese immigrants working as waiters, dishwashers and busboys. Today she has over a dozen branches in cities across the U.S., according to World Magazine.
Taiwan, China and communism
But more ironic is Taiwan pastor Matthew Liu of California’s San Gabriel Valley who has a church catering to Chinese immigrants. He is often told, “We have no family here and when we come to your [house church] we feel like we are home,” World Magazine reported.
Perhaps the most compelling story is that of Joshua Yu, 84, who lived in China before and after it turned communist. Yu was reared as a Christian, but when he was 23, Communism came to China, according to World Magazine.
Yu discerned the disingenuousness of the government-controlled Three-Self Church which permitted no one under 18 to enter (Jesus said, “let the children come to me”). Teachings about revelation and lessons about being in the world but not of it, were also censored, World Magazine said.
Then in 1958 Yu and 2,000 others were sent to a “reeducation camp.” They were overworked and underfed (dinner would be one small onion). When Yu was freed in 1979 only 800 had survived, World Magazine reported.
A church in America offered Yu a job (because of his facility with English). In the U.S. he founded the Chinese Christian Testimony Ministry, a publishing firm which translates Chinese testimonies into English, World Magazine says.
According to World Magazine, many books that Yu publishes find their way back into China, where they are reproduced.