Rev. Shao An Kou is the prominent senior pastor of Home of Christ (HOC) in Taipei, the son of the Rev. Shi Yuan Kou, the founder of the church. He is also the head supervisor of Good TV, a satellite TV program which serves churches and broadcasts recent events and the president of Kingdom Revival Newspaper. In the past, he was known to have hosted several programs with the mainline Taiwanese TV stations and directed dramas before he devoted himself to ministry. In his recent trip to Los Angeles, while preaching in a three-day retreat at the Home of Christ LA, our reporter was able to conduct an interview with him and ask his views on faith and some recent events:
Q: Rev. Kou, for the sake of our readers who wants to know you on a deeper level, I want to ask what was the reason why you have changed from you work in TV and broadcasting into devotion to ministry work?
A: It has been 15 years since I entered ministry. For ten years I worked for TV stations as producer and program host. I also studied for a period of time in Seattle. Actually, I didn¡¦t like being a pastor in the beginning. Since I was born from a pastoral background, I saw the life of being a pastor and how much suffering it required; I didn¡¦t want to pursue that kind of life.
When I was young, my friends were interested in producing Christian dramas. Since I had interest in acting, I worked with them in their production. At the time, I thought that if we were to produce dramas, then we have to do it better than other dramas in the world. And from there, I spent ten years of my life avoiding the calling of God to enter ministry.
In those ten years, I actually came to experience God more. While I had numerous of Bible study lessons and attended various retreats since I was a child, those ten years I faced many difficulties, and always I would go to God to seek help
We were young, and we had no money and resources to work with. At that time, I only received 1200 yuan in salary each month. Together, we have absolutely nothing but only a dream. I would say that without the ten years of hardships being away from ministry, I would not have truly experience God in my life. I always knew there was a God, but I have never really come to know him deeply.
I didn't not want to enter ministry at first, but later as I saw one by one people around me are being called, I was sort of envy of them that God has called them. I asked God why he did not call me first, and then I came to a shocking realization that he has called me many times in the past, yet I was the one who did not want to respond to the call. So since then, my thoughts about ministry has changed, and I felt happy serving.
While working for TV stations, I saw many people who had money, great cars, and fame, yet, they were not able to find happiness in their lives. Looking at myself today, I feel very joyous to be where I am.
Q: You took the liberty this time to come to the United States for a short time, what has been your purpose and goal while here?
A: They say where there is the sun, Chinese will be there as well. Chinese people are everywhere in the world. North American churches are sometimes weak, and when you lack strength, sometimes the growth of church stops here. I wish that they can become strong and grow in numbers.
My trip in LA is short, so during this time I only hoped to bring as many people to God as possible. Tomorrow I will be preaching at the Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship North American Conference tomorrow. Their ideology is that brothers in Christ should stand up for the Lord no matter you work full time or part time in the business world. You don't have to become a pastor to preach. During the conference, I will preach on how they may preach the gospel in their work environment. Many misunderstand thinking you have to be a evangelist to dedicate yourself to God. And for some, because of pressures of work, they would stop going to church weekly.
Many today still carry traditional method thinking that they should hold retreats to preach to others, but if you look at it, Jesus went out and evangelized, he did not hold large retreats and preach. If every business men can preach in their workplace, then if we say there are 100 that are preaching, then it would be like 100 retreats going on all at the same time.
Q: This time during the 10th anniversary of River of Life Christian Church, Rev. Shen Zhu Chou, the senior pastor of Bread of Life Christian Church of Taipei mentioned regarding the mending of relationships between the Bread of Life and the Home of Christ, how do you see this partnership in regards to church unity?
A: My father was the first evangelist in the Bread of Life Christian Church. He left the church with unhappy feelings. Rev. Chou actually came to the Bread of Life sometime after my father¡¦s departure. At that time, both my father, and the church, were damaged by the quarrel. My father left the Bread of Life, and weeks later he founded the Home of Christ. God blessed HOC in the very beginning; it started with 500 to 600 attendants, then in 1 to 2 years, it grew to 1000.
In my opinion, there is a reason why God has blessed our church. Initially, everyone came to attend the service wanting to hear my father condemn the Bread of Life Christian Church. There are people like that who likes to listen to other people condemning one another. Yet my father felt that he should not condemn. Later in his life, my father told me that he had never prepared for a sermon so well like the first sermon he gave for HOC. That day, he wrote every word of his sermon on paper, and over night he would scribble, tear apart the paper, and scribble again. He prayed continuously that he would not assert any frustrations on the Bread of Life in his sermon.
Many times, problems occur because people lash out on one another, and what happens is that the hole only becomes bigger and bigger. Although problems occurring in church is somewhat inevitable, yet we should not allow the hole to grow larger. The children never knew why my father left the church until much later in life.
In the past two years, I witnessed that God has blessed both Home of Christ and the Bread of Life. Bread of Life has now become the largest church in Taiwan. My impression then on Bread of Life Christian Church came from my father, while I had a completely different outlook later when I had the chance to talk to Rev. Chou. Rev. Chou actually called me first, that was the first time any member of HOC had contact with members of Bread of Life. Rev. Chou told me that his church has a congregation of 70 to 80 people in the Philippines now. Before, they sent a missionary there to shepherd the natives, but now the missionary decided to leave. He said that he heard that HOC has a missionary to the Philippines, and he asked if we are willing to take care of their congregants in that nation.
I was shocked at his initiative. Churches normally would not give congregants to other churches, especially the relationship we had with one another. Through this, I saw where true love lies in giving. In John 3:16, it says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that people might believe and receive eternal life. God¡¦s love was in giving. By giving, we took down the barriers of the past.
In the past, our church didn't communicate with one another. My father emphasized on not judging the Bread of Life Christian Church, yet also not to have any communications with them. In the Chinese culture, there seems to be many tendencies to separate, yet we have to come to know that by giving you can take down barriers in relationships.
I believe that churches need to realize that unity will give strength to their church. In John 17 where Jesus gave his last prayer, he prayed for unity among his disciples. He knew that unity would become a large problem. Churches have to know that without unity, there will be no strength as well.
Americans knows well through business that by uniting, greater works can be accomplished. Recently in Taiwan, there are many works in uniting churches. In Taizhong (located in the middle regions of Taiwan), over 100 churches have united as one in their work. Also, recently over 50 pastors from different denominational backgrounds gathered and held a vigil; that was something very amazing that I attended. We are hoping to hold vigil like this every once a month.
In Ephesians chapter two, Paul told us that we have been united as one in Christ. Yet presently in this situation it is that we are saving the unity that has been formed already.
Q: Recently, Canada and Spain has one after another worked on legalization of gay marriages in their nation, what has been your view on the current matter?
A: Churches should teach the roles of people living in the society. Today, the school does not teach you about morals and roles, and the society teaches with the wrong doctrines and perspectives. If the churches does not stand up and teach about life according to the scriptures, God will count these sins of ours.
We are not able to condemn the current crisis because we have not been earnestly teaching. Churches should teach what is the role of a husband, a wife, a son or daughter, a parent¡K If the church doesn't teach, then whom can we place the responsibility upon?
In my church, we teach this at least once every month on the roles of people as they live in society. Because we have not been teaching properly, that is the reason the society has become like how it is today. The church should teach Romans 3, where Paul mentions that everyone is a sinner under God. It is not that a person who is heterosexual is a better person than a person who is homosexual, but we should teach what is right or wrong according to what is written in the scriptures. Rather than condemning, the church should learn to love sinners. Love the person, hate the sin. It shouldn¡¦t be also that we do not keep our responsibilities in teaching yet condemning others for their sins; this is wrong.
Editor's note: We thank Rev. Kou for alloting his time during his trip to make the interview possible. Rev. Kou arrived in US on July 1, and has since preached at a San Diego conference sponsored by Chinese Mission Overseas Inc. and at the "Purpose Driven Life" retreat at Home of Christ Los Angeles. He will be preaching at the Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship in San Gabriel on following two days and will make his return to Taiwan afterwards.