BY WILLIAM AND RACHEL CHEN
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm…” (James 5:7-8, NIV).
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for our evangelism among the Chinese in Houston, Texas. In the beginning, we waited for the city to reopen, but as month after month dragged by it seemingly became only more impossible to reach those in our community. We prayed and prayed, asking God to open a new door for us, a way we could meet safely and comfortably.
In March 2021, our neighbor Mrs. Lin told us that after the pandemic began her grandchildren had stopped their English classes. She wanted them to continue but the family was understandably worried about Covid-19. Right at the same time, Julie Griswold of Reach the World Next Door invited us to join an online Adventurer program by Zoom. We were sure it would be an excellent opportunity to reach out to some Chinese families. Soon we invited Mrs. Lin to bring her grandchildren to the online children’s programs. Then we called every other family we could think of and invited them, too.
To make the Zoom meetings extra special, we distributed the supplies for the online classes beforehand, which allowed us to give a second invitation to the families. Finally, it was time for our first program. Only seven children attended, but we were so excited because we could tell they loved it.
Since that first meeting, the children have learned about safety skills, ladybugs, courtesy, handicrafts, and the seasons. We were even happier when we saw the parents join in singing the songs with us and listening to many Bible stories, such as Joseph’s forgiveness and Esther’s boldness.
We certainly did not do this on our own! By God’s grace, several local church members have helped with the web-based Adventurers club, which has now increased to 27 children representing 15 local Chinese families. However, we knew we needed to move past meeting online only, so last December we invited the families to come to the Griswold’s home for a Chinese Pathfinders investiture program. The weather was going to be very cold. Would they come? We were thrilled to have 40 participants attend. Parents, grandparents, and children huddled on the ground learning a new skill – how to start a fire just with a knife and flint. The kids helped collect dry leaves to feed the fire. They were also the best cheerleaders. Then the Griswold family shared the story of Jesus Christ and Christmas. One of the visitors translated it into Mandarin. Everyone enjoyed the time together. We were excited when they all signed up for our new children’s church program.
After the meeting, Tina and Cindy, two parents of some of our Adventurers, were talking with Julie. They told her they would like to study the Bible and grow in Jesus. Praise the Lord! We are so happy. Now, every Thursday night, Tina, Cindy and I (Rachel) are studying the Bible together.
We can’t wait to start our monthly children’s worship program at Houston International Seventh-day Adventist Church. It will be the next step in guiding these families to Jesus. Please uplift these plans in prayer, asking the Lord to guide us and open the hearts of these friends and neighbors.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).