Come and See
by Simon W. S. Lee
In John's gospel, both Christ and a disciple invited others to "come and see." This simple invitation is a key factor in a Chinese congregation's outreach to its community.
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" "Come," he replied, "and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent the day with him. It was about the tenth hour....
...Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. (John 1: 35-39, 45-46)
Mr. and Mrs. Huang, 64 and 61, are retired professors of a prestigious university in Mainland China. They came to Hawaii last March to help their daughter, because their son-in-law was hospitalized after a traffic accident. The daughter had come to this state three years ago with her daughter to reunite with her husband, who was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii.
|"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.|
When these professors were still in China, their daughter occasionally had shared with them her faith in Christ via the mail and telephone. As reputable scientists and members of the Communist Party living in an atheistic country for over half a century, they had no interest in this foreign and unseen God.
Soon after their arrival, they found that the Christians were very kind and supportive to their daughter's family. Among those in the Christian community, they saw genuine love, which was seldom found in the place they came from.
Attracted by this love and compassion, they started coming to our church on Friday evenings for Bible study, and on Sundays for worship. There, they saw the powerful truth of the Bible vigorously leading the lives of men and women, both poor and rich, and highly educated and illiterate, toward lives of beauty.
They saw the living God working among the people of God. On the last Sunday of April 2000, less than two months after their arrival, Mr. and Mrs. Huang openly confessed their faith in Christ. In late August they were baptized before they returned to China.
Mr. Dong, 34, a philosopher of humanism, was strongly set against Christianity when he was in China. In the summer of 1999, he came to this country with his wife and son for further study at the University of Hawaii. He used to think that Christians were all foolish or weak, and believed that only those who are crippled in mind needed to believe in God.
His wife was the first one in her family to be invited to our church. She enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, and their little son was attracted by the children's program. Eventually, Mr. Dong would sometimes accommpany his wife and son. But he remained very skeptical and even hostile to everyone in the congregation.
Mr. Dong's attitude toward Christians gradually changed as he had more contact with our Christian community. He saw that many highly educated scholars were also faithful Christians. He started to study the Bible more seriously and discovered, over time, that the truths in the Bible were a source of real philosophy, the wisdom of life.
On Christmas 2000, he was baptized in our church. On Easter Sunday of this year, his wife was baptized.
Cindy, 42, a new immigrant from Hong Kong, was working as a cashier in a small grocery store. On a regular basis, she had to take the bus for more than an hour one way to her place of work. Living with her husband, daughter, in-law parents, and in-law siblings in a big house together, she needed to make a lot of adjustments. To her, life was a heavy burden, full of stress and worries.
One day at the bus stop, she met a new friend, Mary, a Chinese Christian. Mary, who is 70 years old, had been a widow for more than 40 years and was living by herself in low-income housing. She had been working in the cafeteria at the University of Hawaii as a waitress and janitor, which involved much heavy labor, for the past 25 years.
Though Mary had many reasons to complain about her life, Cindy found that her friend was full of joy and energy. Cindy was attracted by this special Christian quality.
At Mary's invitation during the summer of 2000, she started coming to our church for Sunday services. She found that the songs and sermons were very appealing to her. The burdens in her heart seemed lighter when she came to church. She enrolled herself in the baptismal class to study basic Christianity. During this study, she became convinced that Jesus was the Savior she needed for her life. She was baptized on Christmas 2000.
Key for Outreach
Our congregation, the Chinese Lutheran Church of Honolulu, is not a big church. Every Sunday we have 250-280 worshippers in two services. Because of a lack of job opportunities and the high cost of living, new immigrants find it very difficult to stay in Hawaii for a long time. Every year, more than 40 members move to the U.S. mainland.
Nevertheless, our church continues to grow. On the average during each of the past 10 years, our congregation has baptized 30 adults.
I believe "come and see" has been one of the key factors in our outreach.
We encourage and educate our members to live out their faith, like Mary, to shine for Jesus. When people see the light of Christ, they will be attracted (Mt. 5:14-16).
We create opportunities to welcome those new to the faith to come and see. We have Bible study groups every Friday evening, especially designed for newcomers. Every fifth Sunday is assigned as "Evangelical Sunday." On that day all the programs are designed to appeal to newcomers. The sermon is preached on basic Christianity and the salvation of Jesus. We strive to present the gospel as relevant to our daily issues and problems. The goal is always to point to Christ and help others see him.
Occasionally, we arrange a special program for the general public. Last spring, we invited a gospel team — formed by 10 Christian actors and actresses from the Hong Kong TV and movie industry — to present a gospel performance on two consecutive evenings. This attracted thousands of people to come and see.
We encourage our members to invite their friends and relatives to come and see, particularly to our homes. We encourage our members to make a tradition of inviting non-Christian friends to their homes for dinner.
If, by any chance you, the reader, come to Honolulu for a visit, please come and see us. You are most welcome to share the joy of Christ with us.
Simon W. S. Lee is pastor of Chinese Lutheran Church, Honolulu, Hawaii. Due to the high cost of land and construction costs in its community, the congregation, which is 27 years old, owns land but is currently trying to raise money to build its own facility. The congregation is grateful for your prayer support.