Chinese Overseas Christian Church Word on the Week 15th August 2020.
The COCM was founded 70 years ago by Stephen Wang. Next Saturday the anniversary will be marked by a zoom broadcast. It is good in the midst of our anniversaries’ commemorations to remember one which marks the establishment of Christian Churches and not wars!
It started in the will of God when an 8-year-old boy got into trouble for throwing stones at a missionary’s son in their village in rural China. This led to Yu-teh being taken in to the mission house and the son asked to apologise. This was the opposite of what Yu-teh expected and soon the boys became friends and joined the Sunday school where he shone as a pupil.
Later Yu-teh asked the missionary how he could become a Christian and by God’s grace he put his trust in Christ. He was a bright boy and his father was persuaded to take him to school in Peking. There he excelled and won a scholarship to Yenching university and adopted the name Stephen. Some years after graduation he was appointed headmaster of Tangshan Methodist school.
During the war years of Japanese occupation, he had to depend of God to overcome many difficulties. This prepared him for the missionary life which was to follow. In 1948 the church the Peking sent him to the UK. There he was introduced to the China Inland Mission who had brought the gospel to large tracts of China. As communism had closed China to missionaries Stephen suggested the mission work be directed to the Chinese in Europe who were ‘like sheep without a shepherd’.
In the event things turned out differently and the Chinese Overseas Christian Church was founded with Stephen Wang as its first director. From its first church planted in London in January 1951 there are now 400 churches planted throughout Europe. That does not include the independent Chinese Churches. We have two in Dublin with two church plants in Athlone and Limerick.
The evangelist I knew best was Frank Cheung. He arrived in the UK in 1948 with only a few coppers in his pocket. This became his opening line when meeting new Chinese Restaurant owners. Most of them had little more but all had a strong work ethic. Frank himself had two restaurants in Birmingham before he sold them to become itinerant evangelist with COCM.
Another was Wai Leong an accountant who now works in Bahrain with OM. He helped to develop the Dublin work. I remember his farewell address to the students of the then Chinese Christian Fellowship “Let no man despise your youth but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy Chapter 4 Verse12). This was back in the mid 80ies.
In those days there were the English speaking and Mandarin speaking groups which developed, under the guiding hand of Cedric Chau, till today we have two flourishing churches in Dublin. We also have a full time COCM worker in Ghee Seng who amongst other things is involved in a church plant in Cork.
A lot has happened since a little boy was caught throwing stones in China! To God be the Glory.