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Interaction marks Macau Learning Tour for Chinese Canadians
June 9, 2006
Macau — A first ever delegation from three Asian Mennonite congregations in Mennonite Church Canada visited Mennonite ministry sites in Macau and Hong Kong as part of Learning Tour from April 21 to May 1.
Samson Lo, Director of Multi-cultural Ministries for Mennonite Church Canada, and leader of the tour, was born in Macau.
“This tour is historic because I think it is the very first time that representatives from various Chinese churches in Canada have visited Macau and [will] bring back reports to their congregations.”
Interaction with the local Macau congregation and the city-state’s culture and history were key features of the Learning Tour.
Pastor Tse, tour participant and pastor of the Edmonton Chinese Mennonite Church, lead a session for the Macau church’s discipleship groups entitled, “Family and Faith Tensions” in which he facilitated lively, relevant interaction on how to relate to non-believing family members regarding issues such as ancestor worship and praying before meals.
On the eighth day of the ten-day tour, the group set out with other Christians from Macau Mennonite Church on a prayer walk to pray “onsite with insight,” a first for most.
“Just as the beautiful lotus flower rises up from the mud in the pond below, so in Macau, [in] such an environment [with its casinos and gambling culture], God will raise up a church, not only beautiful, but giving the fragrance of Christ,” prayed Pastor Tse as he gazed up at the huge golden statue of the Lotus flower, the official emblem of Macau.
Participant Truong Kinh Doung was originally a reluctant Learning Tour participant. “I didn’t feel ready to do this [join the tour], but Pastor Lo kept encouraging me. I’m glad I came.”
Led by Truong Kinh Doung, the three women on the tour taught a group of Macau mothers from the Macau church’s tutoring program how to make Vietnamese Salad. During a break, tour participant Irene Chui, movingly shared with the attentive women how losing her son two years ago has shown her in a deeper way what it cost God to send his only Son, Jesus, to die for us.
Murray and Delores Logan, members of Grace Mennonite Church in Regina, along with three of their five children joined the group for a few days as well. Murray Logan, a prison chaplain, preached at a service in the Macau prison and also led an evening session in the Macau Mennonite Church on “Reaching out to the Marginalized.” Delores Logan, a family physician, volunteered time at the Baptist run Hope Medical Clinic. Their daughter Faith helped out tutoring kids in English and interacting with the youth.
The last day of the tour was a Sunday. At an inter-generational outreach barbeque at the beach, Paul Lee, an enthusiastic senior member of the tour group shared his faith journey with the 70 people in attendance. Paul said, “I’ve wanted to come for a long time. I want to share my experience.”
He and tour member, Karen Chan, also sang gospel “yuet kuk,” a traditional style Cantonese opera. Karen uses gospel “yuet kuk” in her ministry to Chinese seniors in Toronto.
During the worship service at the beach, Pastor Samson Lo preached on Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life in a compelling way that tied into Lo’s roots in Macau.
The visit and the manner of the visitors also made an impression on the local Macau people.
Winnie Jeung is a baptized member of the new Macau Mennonite Church, and a first-year student at the University of Macau. She invited her mother for some interaction with the Learning Tour group at one of the church events.
“I really like the ‘yuet kuk’ because my mom really loved it and sang loud. The melodies are something many Chinese people know and the words were great for sharing the good news. It was very helpful to bring up issues we need to be aware of in the session on Family and Faith Tensions. It was special to have a short-term team that speaks Chinese."
Sarah Ho observed, “Their coming here really encouraged me because they were Chinese and some of them were my parents’ age, so I could see that it is possible for Chinese people my parents' age to believe in Jesus and have their lives transformed."
Susan Poon was eager to learn more about the Chinese church in Canada. “I felt close to the group and was happy to learn more about the Chinese Mennonites in Canada. I have Karen Chan's phone number and will call her in Toronto when I have a chance to go. I would love to meet the church there.”
For most of the tour participants it was their first visit to Macau. In reflecting on their experience, David Tran, who had shared his faith journey during Sunday worship, said, “I’ve seen that I can have a part in sharing the Good News.”
Tse added, “Reading about the ministry is not the same as being here, seeing and hearing what is going on.”
Six Chinese Canadians from three Mennonite Churches participated in the Macau Learning Tour: Paul Lee, David Tran, Irene Thai Quan Chui and Truong Kinh Doung, from Grace Chinese Mennonite Church in Vancouver; Pastor Ken Tse from Edmonton Chinese Mennonite Church and Karen Chan from Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church.
Sidebar: Learning tour a morale booster for mission workers
International mission workers often feel a sense of social isolation as they settle into a new culture, a new language, and foreign surroundings. Visits from fellow Canadians can help boost morale as well as offer a deeper understanding of the challenges of international mission work.
In this case, it was especially exciting to have a participating visit from Chinese Mennonite brothers and sisters.
“We’re grateful to God to see a dream fulfilled, yet we hope this is only the beginning,” said George Veith, Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker in Macau.
Colleague Tim Buhler added, “Although all the participants and their families were from different parts of the region in Asia, it felt like they were coming home. Coming home in the sense that we as mission workers are working with their Chinese brothers and sisters.”
Witness worker Cindy Buhler observed the cultural linkages made for local members of the Macau Mennonite Church. “It was so good to have Pastor Tse share in areas of concern to Chinese Christians where we lack first-hand experience.”
Encouragement and affirmation from the tour group for the Macau workers was deeply meaningful. The feeling was mutual said tour member Karen Chan. “The mission workers show hospitality in a Chinese way.”