Sometimes it is easier than other to give thanks. This Easter Sunday will be one of those days. Many of our church members never remember a time when we did not have the Chinese Fellowship as a part of JIBC. It is as if they have always been a part of our church family. I remember when they started as three people, Yi Ling Pittman, now missionaries in Asia, two of her Chinese friends. Their group grew slowly to 6, then 10, then 15. They needed a bigger room and we gladly accommodated. Then they launched from being a small group to being a church. They rapidly grew to 50, then 70 and now are reaching 100 adults. They have their own youth worship service. Pastor Sean recently helped them start their own children’s worship in preparation for their departure. This Sunday, Easter Sunday, will be their last time with us except for special occasions. We are hoping they might come back for an annual worship service together.
They are going to gather at Citadel Square Baptist Church downtown. Currently, Citadel Square has a good bit of extra space including an extra worship center. This will put the Chinese Church in a wonderfully strategic location to reach Chinese students at C of C, Citadel, MUSC, etc. A few weeks ago we had the privilege of baptizing a wonderful Chinese couple. He is a visiting scholar at MUSC. Again, this puts them in an ideal location. Very few, if any, of the Chinese members actually live on JIBC. Most live in Mt Pleasant, West Ashley and in North Charleston. Downtown Charleston will make sense in many ways.
Now, here is a cool, only God can do this kind of thing, fact. They are going to Citadel Square Baptist…out Mother Church. James Island Baptist was started as a mission of Citadel Square. Early in JIBC history, we started Ft. Johnson Baptist Church, under the leadership of our first pastor, Rev. Glenn and Mildred Tallant. That started as a true new church start. Now, we get to do it again.
We never charged the Chinese Church to use the building, supplies, utilities, etc. They have their own keys and codes to come and go as needed. They use the kitchen every bit as much as our Kitchen Crew. I will miss the wonderful aroma of Chinese food on Sunday mornings…surely it was a pleasing sacrifice to our Lord. I will miss my dear friends and will look forward to chance encounters at the hospitals and in the community. I will look forward to the possibility of an annual gathering to see how their numbers grow.
Now, thank you JIBC. In the early days of old timey Baptist life, we had members who wanted to vote on whether or not to have a Chinese Church meet with us. That seems so foreign to us now…pardon the pun. I thank God for a church family that let go of control and sought to embrace joining God in what He was doing. It was a new way to do church together. It is a much better way. You did not go backwards then and you continue to move forward. The result is the largest Chinese Fellowship in Charleston, perhaps the most active Hispanic Church, and a Celebrate Recovery as large as the average Southern Baptist Church in South Carolina, the only Transition House for women with children and on and on we could go. To God be the glory.
See you Sunday with the traditional Easter greeting: “He is risen…He is risen indeed.”