1968 Stepping out with a vision
From a very small beginning 40 years ago till today we have seen God guiding us to fulfil the vision He has granted to our founding members, a home for the Chinese Christians and our friends. A few Chinese students had the opportunity to attend meetings in London Chinese Church (LCC). They met Pastor Stephen Wang and they too shared the vision that, ‘where the Chinese are there should Christ be also’. When they came to Leeds to further their study, they took the trouble to come together to do Bible study in the campus with some Christian nurses. The number was very small, just about a handful. They had in mind to share the gospel with the non-English speaking Chinese in the catering business, but they didn’t have the man-power to do so. Once a month, they would have a gospel meeting to share the good news with their fellow students. In those days quite a few Chinese from South East Asia were attracted to study in the British Universities.
One weekend Pastor Stephen Wang and a team of young people from LCC came to do visitation and a gospel meeting. In that meeting about 6 people gave their lives to Christ. Seeing this as a sign of confirmation of a more permanent work in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Chinese Christian Fellowship was inaugurated with the encouragement of Pastor Stephen Wang and some British friends in 1968. Thus through a small student fellowship, the foundation was laid for greater work to come.
At the end of the 70s the boat people from Vietnam arrived in England mainly as refugees. Our fellowship had the privilege to help some of them to settle in the city. God’s timing was perfect in sending a staff worker, Sister Kim Ong, from the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission (cocm) in 1977 to overseas all the small churches and fellowships in the north of England. Kim being able to speak at least 3 languages was a great help in starting our Cantonese worship service.
In the 80s, we began to see some visiting scholars coming to Leeds and England for a few months’ study. Some of them came to our English meeting to practise their English. It was about that time, the UK government had a big increase in overseas student fees in the university. As a result the number of overseas student coming to Leeds had a big fall especially those from Malaysia and Singapore. This affected the English fellowship most. In the early 90s at one time the number of people coming to the English fellowship had dropped to less than 3 on one Sunday. At that time we had serious thought about closing down the English fellowship and put all our effort onto the Cantonese work. However, we were not absolutely sure and decided to go by faith to continue our outreach work to the English speaking students. We could hardly imagine what could happen in less than 5 years.
Because of one or two very fine Christian students the next year, God allowed more and more students to come. So much so that the number of people in the English meeting was more than the Cantonese. We were amazed that from 2 to 3 the number would grow to 40, 50 and beyond in such a short time. Little did we know either that the small number of Chinese scholars coming to Leeds quickly multiplied and more and more students came from China to do post- graduate study. Thus, our English fellowship helped these people to settle in the city and an important vehicle our Lord used to outreach to the undergraduate Chinese students coming over in great number in the beginning of the 21st century.
In 1984, we had the privilege of receiving Sister Irene Chan as the staff worker. With her help, the Lord laid a foundation for the fellowship to become Leeds Chinese Christian Church in 1990. Almost at the same time, God also wonderfully provided us the building at 47 Brudenell Road as our church centre through the sacrificial giving of some brothers and sisters especially those from overseas.
Our recent history
In my last 10 years serving the church as a full-time pastor, it is a great privilege to see what God is doing in our midst. When Sister Irene was posted to Bristol about 12 years ago, we had to look unto Him for strength and guidance. God’s faithful provision to us never ceased. In September 2007, Dr Pong Lai and his wife Winnie came back to serve us as our full time church worker after an absent from England of more than 10 years. We thank Him for keeping them faithful unto Him. In summer 2007, responding to Hyde Park Methodist Church’s invitation we took up the challenge of hiring the whole church for the whole week. It was a big financial commitment we had to take until we would be sure that He will provide for us our own place.
Since then, by God’s amazing grace and faithfulness we found a suitable premises to meet our needs as a church and moved into the new building On Kirkstall Road in October 2010. We were sad to leave Hyde Park Methodist as it had been our home for so many years, but we saw that the Lord was blessing us and growing us in number. God has shown us that He has great plans for the city of Leeds through this and we are excited about blessing the community as we are situated near the city centre and University student accommodations.
Indeed we have a great God and let’s look to him to do even greater things in us in the next 10 years and may we all be found faithful in what He entrusts us to do.
May glory be to God!
Pastor Johnny Chan