Packing a Punch!

This issue of ChinaSource Quarterly focuses on the Chinese diaspora in New Zealand and the Pacific. With a total population of just over five million and being literally at the “ends of the earth,” one may ask, why this focus on New Zealand? New Zealand may be a small nation, but it packs a punch nevertheless—and not just on the rugby field or in terms of its agricultural fruitfulness or its extreme natural beauty. New Zealand is increasingly a multicultural society with immigrants from all over the globe, the largest numbers being from Asia. Asians (about half of whom are Chinese) now make up 15.3% of the population. Chinese (from places such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China) are playing an increasingly important role in both society and in the church.

Immigrants (including Chinese) are bringing fresh life to many churches. Chinese Christians are not only found in Chinese churches, of course. Many English-speaking, so-called Kiwi churches have significant numbers of Chinese congregants. In some Kiwi churches, Chinese play leading roles on deacons’ or elders’ boards and quite a few are serving in pastoral ministry or in parachurch organizations. There is, at the same time, a growing awareness of the importance of “multicultural church” where people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds worship and serve together. There are helpful lessons for all as we consider what God is doing in and through the Chinese in New Zealand and in the island nations of the Pacific.

The lead article, “An Overview of the History of Chinese Christian Communities in New Zealand,” is by Rev. Dr. Stuart Vogel. Dr. Vogel served briefly as a missionary in Taiwan with the Presbyterian church and for many years has ministered among the Chinese in New Zealand. His article highlights stories that a secular history of the Chinese diaspora in New Zealand would most probably miss altogether.

Rev. Zhou Bin’s article on “Chinese Churches in New Zealand Today” gives an excellent overview and looks with faith to what God might do through Chinese churches in the future.

Pastors William H. C. and E. Ting Wong have written an extremely helpful article on “Reaching the Second Generation,” and many of the insights they share, I believe, are relevant and helpful for Chinese churches well beyond New Zealand’s shores.

New Zealand is vitally connected to the island nations of the Pacific. Joseph H. K. Fung’s article “Neglected Kinsmen in the Pacific Islands” outlines the history and present-day challenges facing Chinese and Chinese churches in Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji) and Polynesia (Samoa, Cook Islands, Tahiti, etc.). Originally from Hong Kong, Rev. Fung served as a missionary in the Islands.

Dr. Sylvia Yuan, an immigrant from China now serving as a researcher with OMF International, has shared some of her research on Kiwis serving in China pre-1949. There is a clear connection between Dr. Yuan’s article, “Kiwis in the Middle Kingdom” and Stuart Vogel’s article. Both highlight the important role returning China missionaries played in helping Kiwis better understand China and the Chinese people.

The testimony of John Zhou illustrates how Chinese immigrants, even those with a Hui Muslim, Buddhist, or atheistic background, are often attracted to Christianity. They may start attending church and may even confess faith. However, unless they meet with the Lord in a personal, life-changing way, their faith may be little more than socializing at church on Sundays. 

The book review is about Keith Newman’s highly acclaimed book, Bible and Treaty which tells how the gospel came to New Zealand in the early to mid-1800s. It may surprise some to discover how relevant this inspiring story is for all living in New Zealand today, including the Chinese.

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Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson

Peter S. Anderson, a former International Director of Jian Hua Foundation (JHF) has been in Chinese ministry for over 45 years. Peter and his late wife Geralyn served with OMF in Taiwan (1976–82) followed by service in Hong Kong and mainland China (1982–2005) with Friends of China and JHF. From 2006–2016 …View Full Bio