Sunday, November 1, 2009
Pastor Benjamin Wong's Sharing
30th Oct and 31st Oct, 2009
On the evening Friday 30th Oct, 2009 Pastor Benjamin Wong from Hong Kong shared with us in church. He is popularly known to his congregation as “Ah Ben”(Chinese name Wong Lee Min). He shared with the congregation about his experiences in founding his church of about 2,000 members. He is a very humorous man and he made many laugh with his action packed examples.
His church, Shepherd Community was started 22 years ago by 3 pastors and 2 lay persons. It seem impossible at that time, but by grace of God his church grew. The church did not solicited nor organised funds raising events. All their needs were obtained by prayers. Pastor Ben said his inspiration came from Hudson Taylor, one of the earliest missionaries in China.
In Hong Kong 70% of people are of lower income, 30% higher income. 98% of the churches serve the higher income group, only 2% serve the lower income. There his church’s mission is to serve the “grass root” as he puts it. The church aimed to carry out the great commission.
Another objective of his church is mission. At present his church has 200 missionaries ready to serve overseas, 50 of them are already in the fields of Japan, North Vietnam, South Thailand and Indonesia. They are going into Pakistan soon. This is like the early church that sent missionaries to the surrounding regions to convert people.
In the 70s Asia was the slowest in terms of growth in Christianity, however, in 2006 survey showed that Asia was the fastest in growth. Pastor Ben has been working on his mission and now he is seeing fruits of his labour.
Pastor Ben said we should get into the basic again. He had a saying in Chinese that translates, “Raise the banner of Jesus to the highest, take His Words like you dig deep into the roots”.
On 31st evening, the meeting was informal and members sat in circle. Pastor Ben shared on cell church and how his church became a cell church. In his church, they do not have permanent building like many big churches. Their members meet in rented places such as community halls in housing estates. Once a month all members come together to worship in a large hall. Pastor Ben learnt from Ralph Neighbour how to start the cell church. Earlier on his church was like other churches, until he adapted the cell church concept and the church meet in various places on Sundays. Larger congregation has about 500 members, and many in 100s. According to him many churches grew to very large sizes, at the same time the pastors became inward focus on themselves rather than God. Pastors became proud and loss touch of the people. This is what we all have to be careful about. In his church everyone dresses casually in t-shirts and you cannot tell doctors, lawyers, labourers, and ordinary people apart. In fact, people do not address him as “pastor” but “Ah Ben”.
Again he dwelled on the basic of Christianity. That is building love relationships with all members. God first love us now we are able to love others. Basically Christianity is not so much about theology and the Bible, but essentially about life and our relationship with each other as Christians. He said when you see God later, he is not going to ask you how much you know the Bible, but he is certainly to ask you how much and whom you have loved. The church is about people. It is usually difficult to keep people after you convert them. We need to get down to basic of loving people, build relationships, respect people, and everyone is important.
One of our brothers asked him about his opinion of spiritual father because during the sharing he shared how his spiritual father in Australia treated him when he was a student there. It appeared it was more like a father-son relationship, rather than any thing else. Since this person was like a father to him, and he was a Christian who treated Ben like a son much more than his own father treated him, so he called him “spiritual father”. Therefore, it was not meant to be anything more than this kind of relationship. Certainly he did not make his spiritual father like some kind of a “god.”
In relation to building relationship in family and in the congregation, he shared on 4 types of power:
1. Powerless-like a husband delegating headship to his wife.
2. Power by force-like employer threatens to fire an employee
3. Power by coercion-like telling a child he can have an ice cream if he behaves.
4. Biblical Power-power by honour, the type used by Jesus. He served the people.
It has been valuable sharing by Pastor Benjamin. We thank God that he sends him in our midst in time of our greatness needs. We just faced a tremendous change in our church which was not seen in years, and he came along to share with us his experiences, both successes and failures. Getting down to basic Biblical teaching of love-relationship is what we certainly can learn from him. The other important thing is to have faith in God through prayers. His church is driven by prayers in all that they do.
Praise God for His faithfulness and love for our Church that he sends Pastor Ben to us just as we needed help. Hallelujah Praise God!