Photo Credit: A group of the Chinese community in Panama City, Panama, pose for a photo with Professor Zhang Shu (second from right) and his wife (left) during the inauguration of the new center of influence held in Jan. 2020. The center is operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Panama with the coordination of the Inter-American Division’s Adventist Mission Office. [Photo: Panama Union]
United States | Libna Stevens

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America organized a week of mission, Jan. 3-9, filled with messages as part of cross-cultural mission outreach initiative to reach Chinese communities throughout the territory. The evening programs were the first of their kind and touched on topics of health, family, money, and more. 

“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 the local Chinese people,” said Pastor Samuel Telemaque, Sabbath School director in charge of Adventist Mission in Inter-America.

The event follows a long-term plan by the Inter-American Division (IAD) and the Chinese Union Mission to assist in helping run the two main centers of influence in the IAD: one in the Dominican Republic and another one in Panama.

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

Pastor Elie Henry, president of the church in Inter-America, spoke on the first family in heaven, 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,” said Pastor Henry. “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 Zhang Llan, Zhang Shu, Nickey Shum, Rachel He, Mark Mak, as well as Gustavo Portes of the Chinese Union Mission, who expanded on The Source of Wisdom, The Road to a Better Life, The Road to Excellence, Four Ancient Trails, and The Perfect Home, among others. Spiritual reflections were led by Pastors Henry, Telemaque, Jose De Gracia (president of the church in Panama), Paulino Puello (president of the church in the Dominican Republic), and Robert Folkenberg, Jr. (president of the Chinese Union Mission.)

“This was an important step in the implementation of the ‘I Will Go’ strategic plan of the division in the area of cross-cultural mission,” says Telemaque. “Moreso for the growing center of influence of the Chinese community in the Dominican Republic which has been running for over three years now.”

So far, there are seven baptized members who attend church services every Sabbath with their families and friends, as well as 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,” Telemaque adds.

The Chinese community of more than 20,000 in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, is overseen by the church. 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, says Telemaque. 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 began 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 in early January 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,” says Telemaque.

The work of ministering to the more than 60,000 Chinese people in Panama will take time, Telemaque says, 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, says Telemaque. Several Chinese missionary couples are scheduled to support new centers of influence in Jamaica, Mexico City, Trinidad, and Honduras before the end of the year.

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

To view the evening presentations on Facebook, click HERE, and on YouTube, click HERE.

Kayc James contributed to this report

This article was originally published on the Inter-America Division’s website