SAN FRANCISCO- The first ever Chinese Christian pro-family conference in Bay Area was held Saturday morning, raising a new challenge to the Chinese churches in terms of their roles to uphold the biblical values concerning family ethics.
At the First United Presbyterian Church of San Francisco, some 20 pastors and ministers from Bay Area churches and organizations attended the Family Conference with the theme in Chinese "Challenges Faced by the Modern Family and the Church."
The leading Chinese evangelical Rev. Thomas Wang has led the opening prayer. As the frontier of the Chinese churches to battle against homosexual movement and to defend traditional marriage between "one man and one woman," he asked God for forgiveness for many churches today have not been loyal to the word of God and kept silent in face of evilness. He also prayed that God will revive the church so that it can become the light and the salt of this era and to speak for the Lord.
Despite the massive promotion campaign for the Conference, the total number of attendants is just one-tenth of what expected. Tam lamented that many churches are not concerned about social issues.
Wang exhorted churches to take up the burden of making a difference to the society. Since God has entrusted the world to human beings, churches must show concern to the world.
"If the church only cares about itself, then it is committing a sin," Wang emphasized. "No one light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Our light is now covered up and has not entered the society, so the society does not care about the church. It’s because of our weaknesses, selfishness, retreat and isolation, the world does not look up to the church. Repentance must begin from the church, and the repentance of a church begins from the missionary, therefore it starts from me."
The speeches of the four keynote speakers- Dr. Bill Tam, chairman of Traditional Family Coalition (TFC); Dr. Melvin Wong, a California-based Licensed Clinical Psychologist; Rev. Lawrence Chan, chairman of America Chinese Evangelical Seminary (ACES) and Peter Henderson, director of Public Policy for the California Family Council (CFC)- have given a very comprehensive discussion surrounding both family and homosexuality issues.
Rev. Lawrence Chan from ACES spoke on "Marriage and Family- from a Biblical and Theological Viewpoint". By quoting various scriptures, he stressed that marriage- the union of one man and one woman- is the foundation of God’s creation. Marriage represents an eternal covenant of serving and lowering for each other, just as the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Dr. Bill Tam, key organizer of the conference, noted the three major problems faced by many churches today- "Divorce, Abortion and Materialism." He pointed out that the cases of cohabitation, single-parents family, divorce, abortion, youth crime and other is skyrocketing immediately after the Supreme Court ruled to prohibit prayers and bible readings in public schools in the early 1960’s.
Concerning the damage of homosexuality movement to traditional marriage, Chinese in America should be like the Three Gorges Dam that controls "the mighty Yangtze (river)" and block "the culture of sin and immorality" that is flooding the United States, Peter Henderson, director of Public Policy for the California Family Council (CFC) commented in his speech entitled "The Battle over Marriage."
In the afternoon session, Dr. Melvin Wong has switched the theme to parenting. Since many families lack the communication between parents and children, the mind of young people become very liberal after being influenced by the temptation of the money and sex. He urged parents to educate their children about respect to life.
Tam urged all individuals to take up their responsibility in the midst of challenges. Chinese Christians do have conscience, but they need a leader to stand up and lead them, then they will see God’s will and guidance following the path, according to Tam.
"If we don’t even make the first step, or we give up after making the first step, we will not succeed. But if we continue to walk on this path till the end with all our strength, the rewards in the future lie on the hands of God. Rev Wang and I are encouraging each other, even if only two of us will remain in the future, we are determined to run together," Tam pledged his commitment in the pro-family movement.
A Sunday school teacher from the San Francisco Chinese Alliance Church, one of the attendants of today’s conference, agreed with Tam’s comments. Many Chinese Christians are lacking actions although they have very clear conscience.
Today’s conference, co-organized by Traditional Family Coalition, Great Commission Center International and Chinese Christian Herald Crusade, was conducted in Cantonese. Another Conference in Mandarin will be taken place on June 10 at America Chinese Evangelical Seminary in Sunnyvale.
[Editor’s Note: Christina Song has contributed in this article.]