Rev. Billy Graham's three day crusade have ended, yet to the Chinese Christians, what were the afterthoughts and impact that the crusade had on the Chinese church? Our reporter took these questions and contacted the representative of the Chinese churches in Queens and Long Island that took part in preparing the crusade: Dr. Franklin Cheung, Director of Chinese Christian Herald Crusade.
According to the statistics provided by Dr. Cheung, The three day event totaled 182 Chinese Christian volunteers that prepared the events, included are 131 Mandarin speaking and 61 Cantonese speaking. He said that excluding the volunteers, the total Chinese attendants who participated in the event recorded the ratio of Mandarin speakers being 50% over Cantonese speakers. One reason is because there are more immigrants coming from China to New York for the past few years. Secondly, in Queens, Mandarin speakers have most experience in manual labor and have numerous existing lower-class workers.
The total Chinese attendants of the Crusade calculation is based on the amount of translation seating filled and earphones that were passed out. Dr. Cheung said he estimates that each day of the crusade totaled 4000 to 6000 listeners, especially the second day when the preparation was the best, 5000 attendants were counted. He commented that if we look at the total 15,000 that participated, the amount of Chinese attended in all three days would cover 7% of the 210,000 total attendants of the Crusade. It seemed overestimated, yet in reality, the Chinese population ratio in Flushing where the Crusade was held is far above 7% of its total populous, thus the statistics becomes more credible.
Dr. Cheung also pointed out that the Chinese volunteers only amount to 182 people, this has also been the trend of the recent revivals in the region. An example he gave was the revival held by Rev. Stephen Tong in year 2000. Only 20,000 people attended, yet the volunteers amount to 220. "Most revivals are attended by Christian believers, this has been the problem that preachers face for the last few years." Moreover, he said that more people are seeking for excitement, and desires spirit-filled prayers, passionate music, etc. Normal preaching has become more difficult in bring change to the life of non-believers.
"The new immigrants that came to U.S., although they have suffer much, they also need spiritual comfort and guidance. Yet because of the busy life they lead, there is no time for them to consider their problems in this aspect." Dr. Cheung, when analyzing the barriers to preaching to the Chinese, said that many Chinese immigrants are confined by poverty, and everyday they worry whether they have sufficient money to live, a stable living space, savings to buy a car. "They no time whatsoever to consider their spiritual desires." Moreover, the unity among Chinese churches are not strong, therefore it has been hard to hold joint events, and impact the community together in one heart.
Rev. Cheung continued that Chinese American churches already has less resources than Western church, therefore they should unite and witness as one to the society and spread the gospel. This time from the Billy Graham Crusade, many problems and insufficiencies can be identified. He hopes to unite the Chinese church leaders to gather and share their opinions on their accomplishments and failures, and future advancements. Lastly he said that Chinese churches will continue to work building on the volunteers at this event: "After these three days, I hope that we can increase to 180 more."