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May16ThuA thriving Mandarin ministry shares the gospel in South Vancouver. May 16, 2019 by Kristin Ostensen
South Vancouver is one of the most diverse communities in Canada. It’s a place where minorities are the majority, with Chinese people making up almost 40 percent of the population.
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In other words, it’s the perfect location for a Chinese Salvation Army corps.
Led by Aux-Captain Parker Shieh, New Life Church is a ministry within Southmount Citadel, where Aux-Captain Parker is assistant ministry director. The Chinese ministry began in 2012 with a Bible study of seven people; the church has since grown to more than 150 members.
“Praise the Lord!” Aux-Captain Parker smiles.
His vision from the outset has always been clear: “I want to do evangelism with the immigrants from China because most of them only know atheism—they don’t know anything about God,” he explains. All of the programs at New Life support this vision of bringing people into the church and introducing them to the gospel.
Since starting the Chinese Bible study, Aux-Captain Parker, together with his wife, Ling-Li, have launched various community ministries, including ESL classes, seniors’ ministry, tutoring for children, Chinese school, a choir, a youth group and more. “When people immigrate here, they feel insecure—they find it hard to fit into this community, this new culture,” says Aux-Captain Parker. “So we ask, ‘What can we do to help them?’ ”
Most of the church’s clients come through word of mouth. “When they arrive from China, the people here tell them, ‘If you need help, go to church!’ ” Aux-Captain Parker laughs.
For Lily Ng, a New Life member for more than five years, this focus on serving others is what she appreciates most about the church. “Parker and Ling-Li carry out the doctrine of practical Christianity—soup, soap and salvation, on a shoestring budget—with unselfish, heartfelt dedication and divine faith,” she says.
The church’s youth group, which meets on Friday nights, is led by Aux-Captain Parker’s son, Edison. The Southmount building is within walking distance of one high school and is a short drive from another, making it easy to access for local youth.
As with the church generally, Edison hopes the group will help young people develop a relationship with God, but the church offers various activities to bring them in. Along with time for worship and Bible study, the Friday night gathering includes games and snacks. “It’s exciting for them to be able to meet new friends, and discover more about themselves and where they fit into society,” says Edison.
The youth group also volunteers with other Army ministries—in December, for example, they made chili for 1,000 people participating in the Santa Shuffle.
And while atheism can pose a challenge when ministering to Chinese adults, Edison says this is not the case with the youth. “Many of them don’t know much about Christianity so there aren’t any preconceived ideas,” he says. “They come in with a very open mind.”
These photos show just some of the ways God is working through this ministry. (Photos by Ray Shum)