Blossom wherever God plants you
The History of the Chinese Fellowship: “Blossom wherever God plants you” are the words on a plaque that was given to us by our very good friends in Hong Kong when my husband and I left home for England. For the first seven years in West Cumbria, I had been wondering how this motto could work out when we were battling our way through the dark shadows of adversity, loneliness, financial crisis and culture shock. Then, we began to understand what Job had claimed – “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Only through wilderness shall we experience God with a more purified heart, and only then, shall we share Job’s humbleness – “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
There were only five of us who were Christians back in mid 1998 and some English friends encouraged us to start a Chinese Fellowship, but I was not confident at all to lead. However, one day, in my quiet time with God, I was reading John Chapter 21, Verses 15-19, where for 3 times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him and he also asked Peter to feed and take care of his sheep. This scripture struck me instantly. God granted me a vision later. I could see lost sheep wandering about and they needed a shepherd. Yes, I was withering, but the Lord could revive me; I was not gifted but I had the vision. I humbled myself and gladly took up the task.
Being immigrants, we sometimes cannot help but feel a bit lost and alienated. “Why am I here? What is my purpose? Do I still have to speak English at the age of 80?” All these questions somehow express the longing for home. Perhaps, nostalgia actually helps to drive us as Christians to look for the real meaning and purpose of life more eagerly, consciously and focused. Due to what we have been through, it is easier for us to put ourselves in the shoes of those foreigners or newcomers who have moved into the area. We hope that we will be a channel of blessing to them.
In His great goodness, God has been sending non-believers to our Fellowship and they challenge us by asking a lot of questions. One after one, most of them have now become Christians. Fifteen Chinese brothers and sisters have been baptised at St John's Church to witness for the Lord in the past 19 years and four more will be baptised on 8th October. Although some have left the area and some have backslidden from their faith, God has been and is still doing great things in us and for us.
Each member of our Chinese Fellowship also has a story to tell, a story of their struggles and how they have experienced God’s salvation, protection and provision. We are bound together by Jesus’ sacrificial love and are here for one another. The study of the Bible in our own language is vital to us in terms of growing both in faith and knowledge of God. We all share the truth that it is important for Christians to be practising disciples. A truly converted life should reflect the beautiful qualities of Christ-likeness, strive to live according to the biblical teachings and actively seek to win souls for the Lord. It is indeed our joy to reach out to the non-believers and practising hospitality is our strength.
On behalf of our Chinese friends, may I take this opportunity to thank you all for accepting and embracing us as brothers and sisters in Christ; putting up with us for the noise of interpreting at the 11 O'clock Service week after week, and allowing some bilingual hymns to appear on the screen. We are also grateful for Fergus and Si for treasuring us and being good shepherds to us. We are deeply impressed by their vision to lead the church evangelically with great enthusiasm.