Yan Fook Church, under the umbrella of Evangelical Free Church of China, has become a legend of church growth in Hong Kong. There is no doubt that a church’s ministry system determines how successful it will become. However, behind that, as the head pastor of a 10,000 member church, Rev. Patrick Wing-Chi So has so much to share about his journey of ministry.
HONG KONG- Rev. Patrick Wing-Chi So has helped Yan Fook Church since its humble beginning in 1986, serving as its first pastor at the time.
The greatest satisfaction he received in the last 20 years of ministry is seeing people come to Christ, while experiencing transformation in their individual and family life.
"All of these have become the greatest joy of my life," So expressed.
While sharing numerous stories about broken families reuniting and suicidal people learning to cherish life, So said that he hope others would regain their courage to live.
"Debtors get rid of debts and recover from bankruptcy…Those who was once lost has become the blessing of those who are now in the same trouble," said So.
Many of those whom have went to So for help have grown to be church group leaders and deacons.
One member is now serving as director of the Recreational Department at Yan Fook Church.
The leader had lost his 20-year-old daughter to cancer. Nonetheless, he and his wife kept faith in the Lord despite growing through a period of despair. Today, So mentioned, they are able to comfort parents whom have lost their children.
Despite experiencing joy in his ministry, So continued, their were also times of bitterness.
Once, some coworkers had left the church over differences in theological perspective about the charismatic movement. On another ocassion, a missionary had fallen away, which led many in the congregation astray.
There were many brothers and sisters who were weaker in faith and failed to follow the spiritual guidance given by church leaders, leaving the Church no choice but to discharge them from membership.
"It is a very heart-breaking experience, especially since you know them well and now you see they are living in sin," So said.
However, many have testified that the Church is still blessed with many miracles.
In one example, an architect found his spiritual salvation in church. Previously, he had been exploited by a real estate development company. The boss had refused to pay him, which almost drove him into bankruptcy. After spiraling into depression, the brother plotted revenge with plans to stab the boss with a butcher's knife. A church member brought him to church, where he met the Lord through Bible studies and prayers with congregants. The dishonest boss later disappeared mysteriously and the court subsequently declared him dead. At around the same time, the architect was awarded a major contract that allowed him to pay back his bank loans and start his own business. Despite receiving a relatively short deadline, he finished the project 40 days short of the deadline since the construction project began under favorable weather.
He confessed that these miracles could only have happened by the grace of the Lord. The church brother plans to build a Yan Fook Church in Canada as means to "return glory to God."
According to church elders, So continues to maintain stability in Yan Fook - having raised many coworkers, deacons and elders. As for the successor, it is essential to form a system rather than depending on a specific person, Rev. So says. He commented that the most ideal system is that below the senior pastor is the senior shepherd; senior shepherds together with senior deacons make an elder group to take care of strategy-making and personnel affairs. Rev. So hopes that he is succeeded by the next senior pastor after six-years. And Yan Fook will be led by a team rather than by one person.
"I attributed the prosperity of Yan Fook Church 100 percent to the grace of God. Nonetheless, Yan Fook brothers and sisters are also 100 percent willingly following the Lord-- do whatever God asked them to do and work with one heart and one mind in Christ. And this is the key to the growth of Yan Fook," Rev. So concluded.
Editor’s remarks: God uses Rev. So to lead Yan Fook Church to prosperity, but during the interview Rev. So has talked about brothers and sisters and affairs of Yan Fook all the time just like a mother talking about her child. When the child grows up, all the pains the mother suffered vanished and every moment of the child’s growth constitutes the mother’s life.
[Editor's note: The interview was conducted by Chris Chan in Hong Kong.]