On February 1, 2016, Chilliwack Chinese Alliance Church will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of worshiping in her own church building. It is a time for us to look back and reflect on God’s faithfulness in leading this church since it was planted in 2006.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and learn not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
There is security in knowing that the Lord will lead us each day, but sometimes we become so attached to our plans that we resist God’s redirection or His timing. Many people turn back because they are afraid to look at things from God’s perspective, but we have learned God engineers everything for His glory. When God gave me the vision to start a Chinese Sunday service in Chilliwack in 2003, I shared with many Alliance pastors that this would be a ministry to reach out to international students. At that time, the city of Chilliwack was planning to build new universities, taking in international students; many would be from Mainland China. However, the World Trade University did not materialize and only the University of Fraser Valley continued as planned.
Sometimes we may have a vision from God and a very clear understanding of what He wants, and yet when we start to do it, there are moments when it feels God had ignored the entire plan. But I trusted that He would bring the vision to reality if we wait for His timing. True enough, more than ten years later in 2014 and 2015, I was invited by Highroad Academy Christian School and Unity Christian School to lead a Bible study to a total of 35 international students from Mainland China. God opens doors to minister in such amazing ways while many public organizations struggle to make an impact. I took this opportunity to invite them to our Alpha program and Sunday service every week, and the schools support the idea. God also brought many new families from Mainland China to our church.
God’s way and timing are perfect. He miraculously provided us with our own building with bigger space to accommodate the growing congregation. The majority of these newcomers have an atheist worldview, and have never heard about Jesus and His salvation before. Now we see their lives transforming after attending church service and Alpha. We have already baptized some of these new believers this year.
Recently, we also experienced God’s miraculous healing to one in our congregation. Sister Dai came to visit her daughter in Canada, whose entire family are Christians, and she followed them to our church. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour before returning to China. As soon as she arrived home, she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and the doctors told her that there is nothing they can do. We prayed for her every Sunday, and she is now getting better and stronger.
With a larger congregation and bigger responsibilities, we need more leaders to lead the church. We prayed and God raised up new leaders who are willing to serve together in unity and humility. Through serving, we grew spiritually and learned to love God and people more, loving not only to those who are lovable, but also those who are hard to deal with. The leaders volunteered to take the students to and from church, put in a lot of time to maintain the church building, cook meals for the congregation, and wash dishes by hand (we do not have a dishwasher). Everyone who comes to our church commented that they have the feeling of home and family here.
During a recent windstorm, Michelle and I were stuck in our house which is situated on a hilltop, for a few days without electricity because the fallen trees and power line poles had blocked the road in front of our house. Brothers and sisters were very concerned and one older couple even took the risk to send food to us. We are very humbled and touched by their love.
After we purchased this building, we were worried about the monthly mortgage and utility bills because our offering income used to be in deficit. God of mercy knows our need. He moved the Canadian Pacific District, Canadian Chinese Alliance Church Association, Richmond Chinese Alliance Church, Vancouver Alliance Church, and Fraser Lands Church to continue supporting our church financially. Our own church’s offering and tithing has also increased since we moved into our own building and the congregation is more committed in giving. After almost one year, God’s providence and grace is sufficient for us.
However, our journey was not without challenges. Setbacks and trials provided us the opportunity to deepen our relationship with God, to learn His wisdom and to depend on Him more than ever. Since this is an old building, it needs some repair and maintenance such as the leaky roof. Recently, our storeroom in the basement was flooded due to power failure during the windstorm which caused the sump pump to malfunction and therefore the basement floor joists, floorboards, and damaged carpet need to be replaced. Our furnace also broke down and we worshiped in a severely cold sanctuary. Thanks to Brother Min Gao who came to repair it until very late at night. We are now in the process of raising fund for all these projects.
As a Christian and Missionary Alliance family, we understand that we should step out to the mission field to preach the Gospel to all nations while ministering in our own church. So when the Richmond Chinese Alliance Church’s mission department leaders, Rev. Simon Lee, Rev. Raphael Chow, and Elder Jimmie Ling visited us, we discussed with them about joining their church’s short term mission trips to Trail and other places.
When we have a vision which is not yet been fully realized, Satan will always come to us with his temptations so that we will not carry on with the plan. But if we can stay calm, faithful, and focused, the goal and purpose of God will be accomplished in us. His purpose for us is to depend on Him now and being obedient to Him moment by moment. It is the process, not the outcome that is glorifying to God. We are expecting God to do greater things than He has already done. God desires that we recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, and to allow Him to do the impossible.