The face of many Chinese churches is changing following the rise of a new generation- American Born Chinese- over the past half a century. Their unique presence has also opened a new dimension for world mission.
The latest bimonthly magazine published by the Gospel Operation International for Chinese Christians (GoIntl’) features on the mobilization of American Born Chinese (ABC) for mission ministries. General Director of Global Mission Partnership Rev. Peter Tow has discussed the benefits of ABC’s participation in world mission, whom he described as "potential missionaries" that are "well-educated, energetic, adventurous, enthusiastic, independent and spiritual."
As the Chinese churches in the U.S. has been flourishing and maturating over the past few decades, many of them face the challenge of reaching out to the world, especially China where billions of kinsmen struggle to hear the gospel.
The passionate young people in Chinese church are therefore the ideal ones to open this path. Quoting the words from a renowned British evangelical John Stott: "The Christian religion is a rescue religion," Tow believes that it is a great blessing for the Church to "mobilize and deploy a large number of Americanized youth, young adults and even older ones to do the work of soul-saving, both local and global."
Through the ABC’s engagement in world mission, the young generation of the church will be able to grow more and thus lift the Church up to a new level. Doing mission works help them to understand mission theories; stimulate them to see the real need of the world instead of their own desire; give them opportunities to discover their talents; activate their life and solidify their faith, Tow wrote.
Tow continued by explaining the four approaches to mobilize ABC to do mission, including information, inspiration, instruction and involvement. Firstly, they must be informed and be interested to respond to the call to missions. Then, they are to be trained and deployed to the position where they can serve with their spiritual gifts.
GoIntl’ Chairman Rev. Cyrus Lam, on the other hand, expressed concern over the exodus of 1.5 generations or the second generations in many Chinese churches due to generational gap.
1.5 generations are defined as those who have basic knowledge on Chinese language and culture, but have also adopted American culture and are able to speak English. Very often, they are the ones who are confused about their self-identity and are searching for their position in the two generations. Second generations are defined as those who have been assimilated by American culture; some of them may even refuse to be identified as Chinese despite of their appearance.
Lam cited a very common conflict between the first generation Chinese and the second generation. He said some churches are divided on the issue of worship because of the different language preference of the two generations.
Lam further gave some possible solutions for the crisis as saying, "To build a church emphasizing the ownership of the second generation…we must make sure that they feel the church does respect their needs and consider them as the future leaders."
As the second generations have a sense of belonging to the church, they will take initiative to attend the church and bring in new believers instead of being pushed by their parents in a passive position, he added.
"ABC’s are not only a blessing to our Chinese churches, but they are also a blessing to our world. They have much to offer not only in the work force, but also in the spiritual realm," Tow concluded.
Tow thus urged Chinese church leaders to tailor the programs that will meet their needs, to nurture them in a continual basis and to keep enlivening their interest in missions.