SAN FRANCISCO- OMF International opened the conference titled "Church Planting of Christ's Church in East Asia" Friday evening, where the recently installed OMF general director spoke at the plenary session to more than 250 Christians from all over Northern California.
Dr. Patrick Fung, the first Chinese general director of OMF international, delivered the sermon titled, "Biblical Understanding of Church Movement or Church Planting", in which he explicated the book of Acts on the topic of persecution, at the Redwood Peninsula Covenant Church.
Recollecting how the history of Christianity opened in China, Fung said that more than 7,200 missionaries were dispatched to China through out the late 19th century and early 20th century, but less than 95 percent of their names was recorded into the history books.
Interpreting the church growth movement in China with the persecutions that occurred in the early churches, Fung said that there was outward expansion because many of those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Apostle Stephen preached the messages not just to the Jews but also to the Greeks. This led to not just a geographical outward movement but also a cultural movement. In today's mission field, many Muslims thought it was impossible for the Chinese to share the gospel with them, but many from the TSPM/CCC and house churches are following the plan of "Back to Jerusalem" in reaching the Muslims.
Fung stated that it was during the time of "inconvenience" that the early church shared the gospel, and they had the commitment in sharing the gospel with other people that lead to this movement.
Regarding missions, Fung stated that the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the most important. It is not about knowledge, because it is inadequate, but it is about obedience. He shared with the crowd that one of the major challenges that he faced in his life is giving his life fully to the Lord and then giving up his career as a medical doctor.
Illustrating the effects of turning to the Lord, Fung said that many families were saved after husbands, who used to drink and beat their wives, turned to the Lord and their lives were transformed. Their wives came to thank the Lord.
Fung said that those with bi-cultural backgrounds can serve as the "messengers" between different culture and languages. In Acts, it is recorded that men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who were bi-cultural Jews, shared the gospel with the Greeks and non-Jews. He encouraged those with bi-cultural backgrounds and those who were bilingual, particularly the Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans, and Japanese Americans and other East Asian Americans, to "think again" about the calling of God for mission.
Fung continued to preach about "second-mile people", which is a term used to describe the characters in the Bible who followed Jesus's teaching of walking two miles when asked to go one mile. He said that Barnabas is an example of a "second mile servant." Barnabas' main agenda is of God rather than of man. He saw what God did and he was excited. He saw that he could be involved by encouraging the believers to become true to the Lord. He saw the potential in others and he prayed for people. He didn't do it alone, but he involved other people. He spoke to their hearts. He is a good man that exalted other people at a higher level. He allowed others to see God's calling.
Referring to Mr. and Mrs. Norgate, who were OMF missionaries to Australia that made an impact in his life, Fung said that he was truly inspired by their heart through their dedication in sharing the gospel and devoting their lives for the lost.
To describe the importance of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, Fung encouraged the crowds to use their talents for missions. He said that when China Inland Mission (CIM) was first formed it was difficult to recruit people. Not many people signed up to go to China for missions. However, a man who was crippled in one leg wanted to sign up for missions to China. He tried to apply numerous times, but he was rejected each time because the mission representatives thought that it would be too difficult for him to travel in the rough terrains of China.
Even though he was denied several times, he didn't give up and he went to see Hudson Taylor directly and asked, "There are many people with two healthy legs that don't want to go, but won't you allow me with one leg to go?" Taylor was very touched upon hearing this, so he gave him permission to go to China.
Fung said that the knowledge of Jesus Christ allows us to keep going, and he urged those present to go further than just being successful in life but to become significant.
"Paul and Barnabas spent a year in Antioch, so that the church will grown and mature. They didn't just leave couple of checks behind. When we are speaking of church planting, we are speaking of Christians centered on Christ. It is the aroma of Christ," declared Fung.
Fung concluded his speech reminding the audience that the "beginning of mission begins with one's obedience and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ."