Few Australian Baptist churches can attest to evangelising in mainland China from the comfort of their own homes. Rostrevor Baptist Church’s Chinese Congregation have stumbled upon this ministry to great effect.
“Some of our members, they have family in China that have come [to Adelaide] and were baptised in Rostrevor, they have gone back to China [and] started up their own family small group.”
Pastor Gordon, founder of the Chinese Mandarin service at Rostrevor (RBC), speaks in amazement of God’s ability to use their ministry in wonderful ways.
With little more than a heart after God’s own, a hospitable spirit, and Alpha courses at hand, the congregation has seen over 80 people baptised, and nearly 150 decisions for Christ.
“This is the Lord himself working amongst us. The work done in it confirms that this was established by the Lord’s call and is a church with the Lord’s presence,” says Ps Gordon.
“Now since COVID-19, we have used ZOOM and established quite a few different small groups in China. Through online, we have more people coming to Christ.”
Katherine, a founding member who helps to run Alpha courses and the worship team for their Mandarin service, saw this up close, sharing a story where she was quite literally standing in the waters with these new Christians.
“I love alpha because it’s a God-given tool that anybody can evangelise with,” explains Katherine.
“There was a family a few years back, one of the daughters comes to our church with her own daughter. She starts to attend our church, she believes [and] she’s baptised.
“Then her sister from mainland China comes to visit. That sister attends church in China, but a hidden, underground church. She joins us and is very attracted in the way Alpha runs, so I copy the whole Alpha course onto a USB for her.
“I ask, ‘Are you okay to bring a USB through customs?’ She says it is fine, [takes] the USB home and starts to show the videos to family members.
“The next year, the rest of the family gradually come over to Adelaide, and the whole family of eight is baptised at RBC at the same time, including the 90-year-old mother and [the daughter’s] crippled brother-in-law!”
“To them, it is a big thing to walk up the stairs and walk into water and totally surrender in that process, and it is very touching in the way they glorified God in that.
“It’s such a thrilling experience. God always finds a way to bless, God always finds a way to evangelise. Nothing can stop the gospels going.”
Gathering at 1:30pm on Sundays and in small groups and Alpha groups during the week, the church quite literally does not take any days off, even on Christmas!
“Every morning from 7-8:30 we have our morning prayer,” says Ps Gordon. “Not just once a week, but seven days a week, 365 days a year. We never say ‘today is a holiday, we can have a day off’ no, never.
“Now we have our online morning prayer group and people join us in Canada, Hong Kong, Beijing, Scotland [and] Europe. In every area we have new people coming to the Lord. Online we equip them.”
Rostrevor’s Chinese Community not only crosses the Great Firewall of China but thrives in its local context too. Bringing together the cultures and languages of mainland China with those from Hong Kong and Taiwanese backgrounds, unity can be difficult to establish, largely due to a complex political climate.
But according to Katherine, there is a wonderful togetherness Rostrevor shows in the face of these challenges.
“Most of our members are overseas-Chinese, first-generation migrants, bringing with them their next generation,” she points out.
“We generally have very great hospitality, we always host lots of activities together and everyone jumps in and joins, in that way it gives people a home feeling. Although we are not a Chinese church – we are just a service – but [this is] a spiritual home.
“I love to worship and build faith together in our own language and culture, we share the same cultural background.”
At 72, Pastor Gordon still has a burning passion to see communities reached and evangelised to. Not only a desire for the congregation at Rostrevor, Gordon hopes the Baptist movement can support multicultural communities in equipping and spreading the gospel.
“In Australia, there are so many different cultures, different languages. Even in Adelaide we have more than 100 different [people] groups in community,” exclaimed Ps Gordon.
“We need to pray for all these communities, that they can be like our church. Rostrevor is more than 100 years old [and] they had never had a Chinese ministry in this church [until] these last eight years.
“The Lord through His work among us can do this for every other church, so do not just pray for us, pray for multicultural [congregations] to be set up in different churches.
“I hope Baptist churches can open their doors to the multicultural church.”