In Christianity, pre-evangelism is the arduous work of removing objections that hinder the reception of the gospel message. It is a critical first step in reaching unbelievers whose minds are blocked and not able to claim the Christian faith. What might that look like for reaching the Chinese community in America?
When the Short-Term Missions Center (STMC) of Chicago seeks to do that hard work of pre-evangelism, they might not share the gospel right away; rather they first blaze a trail that leads people to know who Jesus Christ is thus preparing the way for them to accept his salvation.
During the first half of 2020 in-person pre-evangelism efforts came to a screeching halt when the unwelcoming COVID-19 virus came to town and the government social distancing mandate was strictly enforced. Were pre-evangelism efforts dead in their tracks for that time? What would be the likelihood that when one door closed another would open?
Indeed, one of the Bible’s promises became tangible when STMC swapped the previously used in-person format for an on-line pre-evangelism effort. STMC was able to brand and expand the program as Pre-Evangelism Talk of Chicago (PET-Chicago) or in Chinese 言芝有你. Please note that 芝 is the Chinese character used to designate Chicago.
Revelation 3:8 states that promise well:
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
The God we serve is a God who opens doors for us. And when he opens a door, no man can shut it. You may try to open doors in your own strength and fail because they are too strong for us. Sometimes you may succeed in opening a door on your own only to find that somebody has closed it again.
In the past year, we were happy to offer a no-nonsense program of talks on special interest topics and testimonies delivered in Chinese by content professionals and people with unique life experiences (see poster below). Topics included: COVID vaccines, critical life choices, the fake news controversy during the election year, COVID mental health wellness, the historic development of the Chicago Chinese community, faith and reason. All were very well received. Similarly, testimonies on COVID recovery and other captivating personal stories were enthusiastically applauded.
What has been unique about the PET-Chicago presentations is that the wisdom is drawn from the unshakable foundation of the Bible.
After a year of on-line presentations, PET-Chicago witnessed a number of positive developments such as (a) regular monthly meetings on every last Tuesday evening of the month, (b) an average attendance of 70 to over 100 participants, (c) eager participation from local Chicago Chinese-speaking churches, plus visitors from Canada and even Asia!
Praise the Lord, this is one modest achievement that we were never expected or even dreamt about before the pandemic.
My friends, the most prized thing you can do as a Christian is share Jesus with those who do not know him. Being involved in pre-evangelism efforts will help you grow in Christ as well as help others take steps towards faith. At times It may be scary, but do not let that little fear stop you from making a difference in the lives of others. Pray fervently for wisdom, strength, and then move forward.
STMC warmly welcomes you and your friends to our PET-Chicago monthly meeting held on the last Tuesday of the month at 7:30 pm (Central time).
The next one will be August 31. The Zoom meeting ID is 88123273010 and the passcode is 202199 (both valid for meetings through the end of the year).
If you have questions about PET-Chicago please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
May the good Lord continue to bless you to advance his kingdom.
For more about how Chinese American Christians have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, see: “A Chinese Church in Maryland Serving around the World.”
Ovid Wong, PhD is an education professor at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. His public education experience spans from the inner-city classroom of Chicago to the suburban office of the assistant superintendent. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Outstanding Science Teacher in Illinois award; National Science Teacher Association’s …View Full Bio
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