January 20, 2021

Church Strengthens Its Chinese Community Centers Across Inter-America

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review

The Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church organized a week of mission filled with appropriate messages as part of a cross-cultural outreach initiative to Chinese communities throughout the territory. The evening programs, the first of their kind, touched on health, family, money, and more, and were held January 3-9, 2021.

“This important week sought to disciple baptized Chinese members, and build bridges with new Chinese friends, as well as equip church leaders competencies in contextualizing the gospel to immigrant Chinese,” Samuel Telemaque, IAD Sabbath School director in charge of Adventist Mission, said.

The event follows a long-term plan by IAD and the Chinese Union Mission to help run the two main outreach centers in the division territory, one in the Dominican Republic and the other in Panama, Telemaque explained.

Themed “The Secret to a Better and More Prosperous Life,” seminars were presented by experts on social issues with a biblical perspective within the Chinese worldview. Most speakers delivered seminars in Mandarin, and English and Spanish messages were translated into Mandarin in real time.

Elie Henry, president of IAD, spoke on the first family created by Shangdi (God) and their disregard for His laws.

“This was the first human crisis, and it created disharmony between Shangdi and the first family.… The Creator announced His plan to restore His relationship with the families of the earth by sending His only Son to bear our shame,” Henry said. “Shangdi wants Chinese people to live in harmony with Him so that He may honor them with health, education, money, and a better life with Him.”

Seminar speakers during the evening sessions included Gustavo Portes of the Chinese Union Mission. He expanded on the topics of The Source of Wisdom, The Road to a Better Life, The Road to Excellence, Four Ancient Trails, and The Perfect Home. Spiritual reflections were led by several IAD church leaders and Robert Folkenberg Jr., president of the Chinese Union Mission.

“This was an important step in implementing the ‘I Will Go’ strategic plan of the division in the area of cross-cultural mission,” Telemaque said. More so for the growing outreach center for the Chinese community in the Dominican Republic, which has been running for more than three years, he said. So far, seven baptized members attend church services every Saturday (Sabbath) with their families and friends, together with church leaders and volunteers. “We have dedicated church members who have a passion for cross-cultural mission, and that makes a difference in this community,” he added.

A 20,000-strong Chinese community lives in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic. In that city, the church will continue to invest in reaching out to families through the center with language classes, activities, lectures, and self-improvement activities every week, Telemaque said. The center is expecting a new missionary couple within the next few weeks to assist with the community center for another three years.

The center in Panama is at the heart of Chinatown in Panama City, where a missionary couple began ministering one year ago. The center started offering several activities in the community, but due to the strict national lockdown measures of the pandemic, the center had to cease its services. “The seminars presented last week will be a valuable tool to share one-on-one with several Chinese families in the ministry, while the center is set to reopen again,” Telemaque said.

The work of ministering to the more than 60,000 Chinese people in Panama will take time, Telemaque said, but with leaders properly equipped with a better understanding of the different approaches to sharing the message in special people groups, the consistent efforts will yield great results.

Training for church leaders will continue in the next few days and weeks for other major people groups in Inter-America, Telemaque said. Several Chinese missionary couples are scheduled to support new outreach centers in Jamaica, Mexico City, Trinidad, and Honduras before the end of the year.

The evening sessions were viewed on the Zoom platform, YouTube, and Facebook, throughout several countries around the world, church leaders reported.

Kayc James contributed to this report.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.