reaching young Asian Canadians

August 20, 2007

This article by Connie Cavanaugh, “Whatever It Takes Churches: A church in Canada helps second-generation Chinese put down some ROOTS,” reiterates the compelling need to reach the next generation with the Gospel::

How does a church “be a church” if few of the people they reach are free to assemble? This is a key question at ROOTS, a church reaching the teens of Chinese immigrants in Calgary, Alberta. ROOTS was born in an attempt to bridge the generation and culture gap between Asian-born parents and their Canadian-raised children.

The children of immigrants are “third culture kids.” Young Asian Canadians are caught in the middle of a culture clash where they’re not quite Canadian and not fully Chinese. In their interactions with family, fellow students, co-workers and each other they’re always conscious of the divide between their Chinese roots and the mainstream of Canadian society.

During the past 10 years, 281,300 people have emigrated from mainland China to Canada. Since 1998, more people have emigrated from China to Canada than from any other country. Chinese is the third most commonly spoken language in Canada, next to English and French.

Canadian and Chinese believers are continually looking for effective ways to reach people whose Communist upbringing practically guarantees they’ve never heard the name of Jesus.

Norman Wang, a 40-something engineer in Calgary, returned to China for a high school reunion and while there spoke enthusiastically to an old classmate about Jesus Christ. After listening for some time, his Chinese friend interrupted Norman and asked, “What’s a Jesus Christ?” Canadian Southern Baptists are trying to reach these Chinese men, women and children who so desperately need to know Jesus Christ.

ROOTS is a daughter church of Truth–a church planted to reach out to first-generation Chinese. ROOTS meets on Sunday morning in a classroom at Alberta Bible College in Calgary while Truth–literally the “parent” church–meets for worship in the chapel. Between 30 and 40 high school students gather to sing, pray and hear a Bible message. After the service the teens hang around for a few hours to play sports and eat together in the gym.

“The teens who call ROOTS home have something in common with first century slaves,” says Paul Johnson, ROOT’s volunteer pastor who is also on staff at the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. “Because of the time restrictions of rigorous academic pressure, they’re seldom free to assemble.” Recalling that slaves in Jesus’ day met early before anyone else was up, Johnson asked himself, “How do I help students who are under such tight restrictions?” Welcome to instant messenger or IM. Before getting involved with ROOTS Johnson had never used IM. Now he and the other leaders spend hours each week connecting with teens electronically and virtually assembling online. “Their world is online. I have over 80 on my IM list,” he reports. “The other leaders and I counsel by IM. I email them on their birthdays,” 55-year-old Johnson comments. “We even pray by chat.”

Read the rest of the article at OnMission.com and see photos >>

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