I just came back from a long day of activities today. V and I went to the Asian AIM day from 9:30am to around 4pm, and then we waited and had coffee in Burwood for around 2 hours, and then had the stream boat for Arthur's birthday. Came back home at around 9:30pm. It has been a long day.
AIM today is very interesting and challenging, as always. It is an Asian AIM, i.e. most people participating there are of Asian backgrounds. Some are pastors. I heard from Tim that all CCC pastors except one were present today, and we have ministry trainees, deacons and elders from other Chinese congregations all around Sydney. We had Peter O'Brien from Moore College to give a talk on Hebrews 3-4 in the morning, and it has been challenging intellectually as he explained the word in details. I used to think that the recipients of Hebrews are under the temptation of falling back to Judaism, and that is why the author urges them to focus on Jesus. However, Peter O'Brien explained it in the way that at the same time, they are in fact under the persecution of the Romans, as the Christians were blamed for the fire in Rome back in 64AD. With that insight, it gives me some new understanding on the context of Hebrews. However, I found the seminars with Alan Cole most challenging for the whole event. Dr. Alan Cole was born in the year of dog, which makes him either 80 or 92 years old this year (he looked quite old). But with his age and his enthusiasm for evangelism, it was very encouraging to see him standing up there preaching the word of God. He is a westerner, but he has a heart for China and other Asian countries. I guess his great desire for evangelising China came from his experience of not being able to work as a missionary there - he was the in missionary field when China closed its door back in the 50's. Therefore, he became a missionary in Malaysia and Singapore, and later on to Taiwan and many other places in Asia. Along the way he has acquired many languages, and he spoke Mandarin as well as Cantonese (and I heard from Anna that all together he can speak 16 languages and dialets). He is quite a humourous character, and when he speaks, you can feel his many years of experience flowing out from his heart. Quite an amazing speaker I'll say.
He had a seminar for deacons and elders of the church, to show the importance of their roles in a church, and how they should try to free time for the pastors so pastors can work on the teaching bit. Later on in the talk in the afternoon, he challenged us to take every opportunity we have when we are here in Australia, while we have full resource of training here, to equip ourselves for the work of God. Moreover, it is also important for us to keep our languages, as we Asians do not ministry only the other Asians who are living here in Australia, but also other Asians who are coming to Australia. He challenged us to be fluent in our Chinese language, because quite possibly those new migrants will not have good English to start with. And if we cannot reach the first generations who are here, we have already lost half of the second generation. He certainly understood the importance of language, and he rather becomes a fool in front of others when he tried to learn the language, but he will still persist so he can finally present a talk in Mandarin.
It challenges me as my mother tongue is still Mandarin. Even though my Chinese is not as good (neither is my English :), and sometimes I cannot present some ideas in Chinese in the ways that I like, my Chinese is still much better than many others who were born here in Australia. During lunch time Tim was chatting to Eugene Hor about the Mandarin ministry on the UNSW campus, and we claimed that we are not good in Mandarin. We are not trying to be humble in our Asian ways, and in fact we are not. To many mainland Chinese who have gong through at least 12 years of Chinese education, our Chinese ability is more of "conversational Chinese" than proper Chinese that stimulates and challenges. However, when Eugene heard that we can actually lead Bible study groups in Mandarin, he actually confronted us that we are in fact very good - at least good enough to present the gospel. So, in some sense I do have that gift of language, and how should I use it wisely for the service of the Lord?
Chinese churches in Sydney have been putting on a lot of weight on the English side of ministry, a ministry catered for the second (or one and half) generation Chinese Christians. At least it is how things like SCEA was formed. Yin, Joshua, Eugene - they are all English speaking pastors that organised these events, and other than Joshua, who worked amongst the overseas students, all other pastors are working with English speaking Asians. But are they neglecting the Mandos and Cantons? What about thousands of new migrants who come in every year? What about another thousands of overseas students who study here every year? Don't they also need gospels? I feel thankful that Alan Cole can be here today to encourage people to look at these issues - there are more than just English ministries in Sydney amongst the Chinese.
I need to go sharpen my Chinese now. Gotta blog more in Chinese :)
Updated 16 Oct 2003: I've linked Alan Cole to my other blog entry. Alan died of a stroke 2 months ago, and he's now with the Lord...