SAN FRANSICO-- Initiated by Rev. Thomas Wang, chairman of the Great Commission Center International (GCCI), the "America, Return to God" movement has inspired Chinese churches in San Francisco to pray for the United States.
Last Sunday, believers and church leaders gathered in four different regions within the Bay Area - North Beach, Peninsula, South Bay and East Bay - for the prayer meeting.
In the South Bay gathering at the Mountain View Chinese Christian Church, around 50 Christians came mainly from neighboring Chinese mega-churches such as River of Life Christian Church, Home of Christ and Chinese Church in Christ.
Believers gathered in heart to give prayers of repentance, as over the decades the United States' sense of morality and spirituality gave way to secularism.
Acknowleding that churches have not done their part in defending the truth, the Chinese leaders confessed that America's situation has deteriorated as a result.
"We admit that even our church has been secularized. We follow you [God] and we follow the [secular] world at the same time. Missionaries in the church have not delivered your message according to you will...it seems that our church has become cold. Lord, please cleanse the church so it can become your holy instrument," Rev. Liu Tong, senior pastor of River of Life Christian Church, prayed aloud.
"Even though this country is filled with filthy sins, God still loves this country. May God give us the spirit of repentance, so we may revive and may God heal this land," Rev. Liu continued.
Joining in this often rare Chinese ecumenical worship, believers were urged to pray for the unification of American churches and their revival.
Rev. Thomas Wang Li-ping from the Guidepost Gospel Church led the congregation in prayer, stating that forty to fifty years ago Chinese immigrants flocked to the United States in pursuit of religious freedom and democracy. That "America’s Beauty" has vanished today, lamented Rev. Wang.
Nevertheless, he continued, the Chinese churches should not condemn the American church for its failure, because Chinese immigrants have received so much grace and blessings in their adopted country.
"We should never point our fingers at the Americans. We must also admit the weakness of the Chinese church. We must look at our church, our missionaries and our church members, we are all weak...It is not an excuse that Chinese is the minority in the United States, as we try to take this burden for the country, this country still has hope," said Rev. Wang.
In Mountain View, Elder Rupert Hsu from the South Valley Chinese Church in Christ led the congregation to pray for Christian families to bear witness for Christ.
Speaking to the parents, Elder Hsu encouraged them to use God's standard to raise their children rather than using that of the world. He prayed for the parents so that they may set up a good example for the next generation.
The elder, however, reminded parents that only God could change the children. So, parents must pray for their children to focus on God's word, and always live by it.
"Nowadays, the divorce rate for church-going family is just as high as those of the world. May God help us open our eyes to see the crisis so that we may learn to rely on him even more," Elder Hsu shouted.
In light of the upcoming 2008 presidential election, participants prayed for the future president and vice president of the United States, the Senate and the Assembly.
Elder Kou Shao Ying from fourth Home of Christ church pointed out that Chinese believers must open their hearts to love the American church just as they love the Chinese church - especially since many Chinese are naturalized U.S. citizens. Chinese Christians, Elder Kou added, must repent for not praying for the American society and its leadership.
"We desperately pray for President Bush, may God give him wisdom in leading this country. When he is making decisions, may the Lord’s will become his priority. We also pray for the Senate and the Assembly, we pray that they may have fear in the Lord, instead of only considering their party’s benefits," Elder Kou said.
Though the "America, Return to God" prayer meeting lasted 2 hours, the organizer hoped to inspire the Chinese churches throughout America to continue praying for The United States every Sunday.