Exploring the Chinese Christian Diaspora in America

As directors of the Global Diaspora Institute based at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, we are extremely delighted and grateful for the opportunity to serve as guest editors of the winter 2020 issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly (CSQ). Since this journal originated at the Billy Graham Center in 1997 and has been an effective vehicle to disseminate knowledge by eminent scholars and ministry practitioners about mission among Chinese worldwide since then, we are glad to see it return to its “source.” We consider it an honor to bring out this issue.

In this installment, we focus on diaspora missions among the Chinese in the United States including a look at Chicago, the third largest city in America. Although “overseas” has been primarily used as a lens to view the Chinese living abroad in the past, the term “diaspora” has gained popularity among and about the Chinese living outside of China. Diaspora is a Greek word used in the Bible that means scattered or dispersed. It is an agrarian word analogous to the scattering of seeds and commonly referred to Jews who were living across the Roman Empire and beyond in the first century CE, especially arising out of persecution. However, the term diaspora is widely used nowadays to refer to all types of migrants, voluntary and involuntary, as well as their subsequent generations who live in places far away from their ancestral homeland.

This winter issue of the CSQ features a series of enlightening articles from a leading Chinese American historian, Dr. Timothy Tseng, who traces the origin and history of the Chinese church in the United States. Dr. Andrew Lee, who recently retired as the Senior Pastor of the Chinese Christian Union Church in Chicago’s Chinatown, provides an insightful perspective on the evangelical faith of English-speaking Chinese Americans. Dr. Sam George, a leading missiologist on diaspora, provides a report about his recently completed centennial research project commissioned by the United Chinese Christian Churches in Chicagoland. He details some of the highlights and findings of a major study analyzing Chinese churches and the Chinese community in the city. This is followed by an interview with Rev. Yoman Man, whose church recently relocated and changed its name. He provides insight about these decisions and other contemporary ministry issues facing a local church.

Joey Zhou and David Fu, members of Northwest Chinese Community Church, provide a compelling report about their recent short-term mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. They showcase the strategic nature of mobilizing Chinese American Christians to serve cross-culturally in Africa by partnering with a diaspora mission agency to develop a model of ministry in Africa. This volume also includes a review written by Steven Hu, a doctoral student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, of a recent book by a Chinese American scholar dealing with issues of race and prejudice against Chinese in the US. And we include the announcement of a Perspectives course being offered in Mandarin for the first time in the US. 

We trust this issue will enrich the understanding of ChinaSource readers of the history and current situation of Chinese American Christians resulting in greater unity, partnership, and ministry.

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Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee is the Associate Director of the Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has served at the largest Chinese churches in New York City and Chicago. He has also been a seminary professor at several institutions and has written for both the academic and ministry …View Full Bio

Sam George

Sam George

  Sam George, PhD, lives with his family in the northern suburbs of Chicago and serves as the director of Global Diaspora Institute at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center near Chicago, USA. He is involved in researching and teaching about diaspora communities and world Christianity and serves as a global catalyst …View Full Bio