The year 2019 my family and I celebrated 20 years of involvement in China. This 20 year journey has been filled with countless experiences and encounters that have brought us closer to our Heavenly Father. I therefore decided to share this tremendous journey with you.
Since the launch of NACIC over 4 years ago, so many people have reached out with messages of support for us here in China. With that also came many questions and members living in areas with similar conditions also reached out. Today NACIC has reached over 25000 active followers and the platform has completely evolved.
This is our story, the story of a family that despite all odds, despite all injustices STILL keep the faith. I hope by sharing this story that not only will many lies and rumours be clarified, but that for those members that have been wronged or threatened by the church like I have, I hope that this story helps you to also keep the faith.
Start of the journey
Our family’s 20-year journey began when I turned 11 years old in June 1999. The landscape of my world at that time was changing immensely and as a child, I had no idea what a huge impact these changes would have in our lives.
In 1999, South Africa was a fresh democracy, many systems were new and in many ways the country was ‘learning how to walk’. My generation formed part of the first group of children ‘of colour’ that were then allowed to attend schools that were previously for ‘whites only’. The integration of us into these schools was a completely strange experience. I was the only person of colour at my kindergarten and even as a young child, these experiences left a strong impression in my mind.
Highlights of the year 1999
God’s work in the former NAC Cape (now NAC Southern Africa) was expanding rapidly and 1999 marked the year of numerous highlights in the area. One highlight in particular that stands out to me was the ‘Day of the Child’ event in June 1999. This event took place in the Good Hope Center in Cape Town and it was so massive that four divine services for the Sunday school children of NAC Cape area were held. As a visual aid for the sermon a huge water wheel was constructed behind the altar in line with the theme. The children at the gathering secured a place in the Guinness Book of Records by forming the largest orchestra of recorders to play a musical piece together.
During this weekend I celebrated my 11th birthday and all the children celebrating a birthday could enjoy thousands singing the happy birthday song for them.
Without my knowledge my Dad arranged a special birthday gift for me. I received a surprise visit from the global editor of the International NAC Children’s magazine, Andrea Schnizer, who was accompanied by the now retired District Evangelist Roy Klibbe. As a child I was very interested in writing and journalism and meeting Andrea was an absolutely lovely experience. We had cake and tea and chatted about the letters she receives from NAC children all around the globe. She included my details in the following German edition of the International NAC children’s magazine and I started receiving letters from German NAC children, some of whom I’m still in contact with today, 20 years later.
Impact on the family
As most daughters, I was and still am extremely close to my father, and during this time period I specifically remember spending significantly less time with my Dad. Naturally, this caused conflict between my parents and I, until my father later explained to me that he would not be around as much as before, because he would be visiting China frequently. He shared with me that he was asked by the church leaders to support God’s work in China. At that age I couldn’t comprehend what this all meant, but I understood that it was expected of me to share my Dad with China, whatever that meant. Since that conversation, China became a focal part of my life as well as my family’s life.
In preparation for my Dad’s visit to China, he met with various high-ranking government officials, including the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki. I knew my dad was well placed for these interactions because even as a young child I was accustomed to him meeting influential people due to his many leadership roles in various institutions.
In November 1999, when my father left on his first trip to China I was completely devastated. These trips became more and more frequent and put a heavy strain on my mom, who had to run the family business and take care of my brother and I, as if she was a single parent. As a family we adapted to these new challenges.
Initial visits to China
My father secured permission from the Chinese authorities for the choirs of the NAC Cape to perform in Beijing. During 2000 – 2001 the NAC choirs visited China and had numerous performances. I was privileged to accompany the choir on one such visit.
I will never forget the first steps I took in the People’s Republic of China. My first impressions of this country were complete awe. Everything I saw, smelled, and heard was completely different from anything I had ever encountered. From eating with sticks, to local cab drivers talking to me as if I was fluent in this bizarre language, to the giant skyscrapers and beyond, I was completely taken in by all of it.
Whilst standing on the Great Wall of China and, even though I was just 13 years old at the time, I knew with absolute certainty that China was going to be a defining part of my life.
When I think back of my teenage years, I immediately feel a deep sympathy for my parents, because to say that I was a difficult teen is a huge understatement. Specifically, I felt sorry for my mum, as my dad was mostly away during my high school years due to his tasks in China. As a turbulent teenager, I of course saw his absence as an opportunity to ‘get away with murder’ as the expression goes, and my poor mum had to deal with it all. This reminds me of a family-visit more than 15 years ago where an Apostle asked me “Why are you so manipulative?” I had no idea what he was talking about, but now as I’m writing this, I completely see what he saw. Nevertheless, my parents kept a strong / firm hand on me. I thank God for that.
In my senior year of high school, I was in search of independence and freedom from the rules of my household and so, I devised a plan and strategized on how I can bring this plan to my father for his approval.
On a Sunday, after lunch, while my dad was relaxing and reading the Sunday newspaper, I carefully approached him and told him that as I was only 17 years old, it would be wise for me to take a ‘gap year’ and figure out what I would like to do with my life before diving into my tertiary education. In my mind, the plan was well devised and showed a high level of maturity. My dad however, was not impressed. Instead he laughed at me and simply said, “You will go to Beijing, and you will study one semester of Mandarin Chinese”. I simply agreed as I had little to negotiate with and could not present a counter argument to my dad.
Arriving in Beijing
On the 16th of February 2006 I landed in Beijing years after my first visit as a young child. I was accompanied by my older brother and a fellow South African youth sister. Beijing was vastly different, and I barely recognized anything. This is definitely one of the exciting things about living in China; everything is ever-changing.
We were warmly greeted by the Chinese Apostle Wang and fellow Chinese brothers and sisters at the airport. They helped us settle in and we all went for our first meal together that evening. Before we ate, the Apostle prayed with us, I will never forget the way he prayed because even though we were in a land so foreign and so strange to us, when we prayed together as children of God, I felt at home and our spirit was one. We grew very close with the Chinese Apostle Wang and he helped us with all of the challenges we faced in China. He fast became a ‘father figure’ for us in China and was always available in times of need.
Up until this day religious activities in China are heavily regulated, monitored and, Christians are only allowed to worship under very strict conditions. However, it was and still is completely allowed and legal for foreign Christians like us, to worship with Chinese Christians, provided that the preacher is a Chinese national and not a foreigner and the relevant permissions have been obtained.
Our Chinese NAC brethren were very eager to engage with us, learn more about us and to join us in singing as much as they could. After divine services on a Sunday, the whole congregation would have lunch together and afterwards we would often spend hours singing together.
Worshipping and Fellowship in China
When I think back of the times we shared together with our Chinese NAC brethren, there are so many beautiful memories. One memory in particular was after a Sunday divine service, where a senior Chinese brother asked us to teach the congregation how to sing the closing ‘Amen’ in four-part harmony (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass). To us this was such a simple request, but we could see that this meant so much to the congregation who now felt part of a wider and international NAC community.
My mother always enjoyed spending time with the Chinese senior members and because she couldn’t speak the language, she used music to communicate and have fellowship with them. The Chinese members were amazed by my mother’s voice and often asked us how she can sing so beautifully. Having fellowship and sharing her passion of music with these members, brought my mother so much joy. She played a very strong supportive role to us as youth in China and taught us to not only hold fast to the Godly values which we know but to share it with our brothers and sisters as well.
Practically getting involved in the developments of the NAC in China
Learning Chinese Mandarin was a huge challenge, not only because of the grammar etc., I had to learn to not only speak the language but read and write as well and Chinese characters were not easy to read, to say the least. Luckily every day after Chinese class, I could go to Apostle Wang’s office and there would always be a friendly brother or sister willing to help me with the language. I had a lot of motivation to master the Chinese language because we also had a sister from Albania, Eva, who was studying law and a brother from Zambia, David, who was studying medicine at that time. Both of their Chinese language skills were very impressive. Together we learned to sing hymns in Chinese and pray the ‘Our Father’ (The Lord’s Prayer) in Chinese.
The Chinese Apostle Wang is not only a certified social worker in China but is also a State approved preacher and therefore knew the intricacies of religious freedom in China, thoroughly. Despite the restrictions of the Chinese law, the New Apostolic Church in Mainland China developed to a level where there were approximately 20, 000 New Apostolic members. The work of the Lord grew steadily without much negative reaction from the Chinese authorities. Divine services and congregational activities were possible in serving the members, albeit under certain “tolerated conditions. The work area of Chinese Apostle Wang consisted of 285 congregations, 883 office bearers and about 16,700 members. China has a population of 1.3 billion people.
As the lead Apostle in China, Chinese Apostle Wang was fascinated with the structure of God’s work in the area formally known as NAC Cape and wanted to understand how the choirs and music in the area developed so fast. The Chinese Apostle was aware that prior to our arrival in China, our entire family was deeply involved in music both professionally and in the church as well. Both my brother and I had leadership roles in the orchestra and choir. My brother spent many years in previously disadvantaged areas of NAC Cape developing music and choirs as well. And because of our experience in music development in the Church, the Apostle asked us to share our insights with him.
We shared with him how music development starts at grass roots levels and how the love for music drew congregations together. We brought over recorder learning books for Sunday school children, various hymn collections and other musical development materials from South Africa for the Chinese Apostle to see. He then decided to appoint my brother as head of the music development in his Apostle area, which stretched over several provinces and comprised of thousands of Chinese members. He also appointed the South African youth sister, who accompanied us to Beijing, to help set up the various development programs, assist with training and to be his senior administrator.
As a family we saw this as such a blessing, being able to add and participate in the development of God’s work in China. What a privilege! We took train trips and had choir practice sessions followed by fellowships with brothers and sisters from all over China. There was nothing foreign between us and our Chinese brethren anymore. We were united in the love for God and His work.
We would take long train ride journeys to travel to the members for choir and music training. These trips were always very exciting, and we couldn’t wait to arrive the next day, freshening up at a basic hotel, having breakfast and heading straight to choir practice for the whole day. After an entire day of choir training, we would ask the members if they were tired or needed a break. They would always decline and tell us that because we could only gather together every few weeks or sometimes even months, they all wanted to make the most of these precious moments. In the evenings we would have dinner together and sometimes we would even continue training or have a meeting to discuss the training for the following day.
As the Apostle’s area stretched far and wide, many members also traveled for many hours to attend the training and had long journeys home but despite the tiring journeys the members were joyful, and we all drew strength from each other’s company. Though tiring, these trips left all of us feeling invigorated with the love for God’s work and for each other.
One trip in particular comes to my mind. It was in a city called Zhengzhou, Henan Province. It was the second time we were visiting our brethren in Zhengzhou. When we arrived, the deacon told my brother and us to have a seat and that they have prepared something for us. We sat down as the deacon counted “Yi, Er, San” (which in English means: One, Two, Three) and to our amazement they started singing the hymn “We shall remain united” in perfect harmony. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t control my emotions and immediately began to cry.
My brother had just had one practice session with them months before that, and the choir had never before sang in four-part harmony. In the previous practice session the sisters sang well, but like in most NAC choirs around the world, the brothers were struggling during practice sessions. On that day, however, they all sang together in perfect harmony and it was clear that after we left, they kept practicing every week until our next visit to show us their dedication, and to give us this message “We shall remain united”. When they finished a few sisters, came to comfort me because they thought that I was sad. They said “Bie ku, bie ku” which means “Don’t cry, don’t cry”, but I immediately told them that their singing was so touching and my tears, are tears of joy and indeed we shall remain united.
First Christmas with Chinese NAC members
At the end of that year we celebrated our first ever Christmas in China. This was an incredibly unique experience, as we were celebrating the birth of Christ in a Communist country where almost no one knew about Jesus Christ. Needless to say, the Chinese government does not recognize Christmas day and it is most definitely not a public holiday. Despite this, we decided to do our best to make Christmas day as special as possible.
We invited our NAC brothers and sisters to have divine service in our home, after which we had a wonderful and festive Christmas fellowship. We prepared special Christmas dishes that we, as foreigners, would normally eat back in our home countries and our Chinese brethren also joined us in cooking some Chinese festive delicacies as well. We sang beautiful Christmas hymns together and some of our senior members joined in the music fun by dancing as well. I’m forever grateful to these brethren for making our first Christmas in China so special.
First Internet Transmission into Mainland China
A huge highlight during that period was the Pentecost divine service of 2006, conducted by the now retired Chief Apostle Leber from Tafelsig Congregation, in Cape Town, South Africa and transmitted by satellite to 60 countries on all continents. About 1.5 million New Apostolic Christians were able to witness the service by live transmission.
As we were aware of the magnitude of this divine service, we were sad that our Chinese brethren would not be able to be connected. However, thanks to my brother for being obsessed with new technology and an overall computer nerd. He came up with a way that we, together with Apostle Wang and our Chinese brothers and sisters, could be connected to the Pentecost divine service also in Beijing, China.
This marked the first ever Chief Apostle service transmitted via the internet to Mainland China, in the history of God’s work. When the responsible District Apostle heard of this unique happening, he did not hesitate to contact my brother who made this pioneering activity possible.
Needless to say, the word for that Pentecost Divine Service was written deep into our hearts. Chief Apostle Leber gave the Pentecost greetings word as: “But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10: 39). Core thoughts out of this divine service were: “Under what circumstances might we draw back? When there is resistance. This is a danger of our days. There are influences which could bring us to the point of drawing back. There are dangers from outside and there are dangers from within.” This was such a momentous occasion, history was made and a powerful word was shared.
“Never draw back!” quickly became a catchphrase for us, both Chinese and Foreign New Apostolic members, in China. Little did we know that this particular text word would serve as a guiding light and would sustain us for the rest of our involvement in China and for many years to come.
International Membership of the New Apostolic Church
As at 2007 the international membership of the New Apostolic Church comprised mainly of African and Asian members who made up almost 90% of the total membership of the New Apostolic Church, globally. During this time many South Africans went abroad for employment, study and various other opportunities. Typical South African New Apostolic members tend to hold fast to the values taught to them in their home congregations such as, continuing in the fellowship, attending divine services and, staying involved in church activities like the choir or orchestra, even if they were out of South Africa.
South Africans are generally perceived as active and passionate members of the New Apostolic Church internationally. Their love for music is well known in the New Apostolic world, especially in Europe where many South Africans got married to European members of the church. Their passion for the Lord’s work and music made integration into foreign congregations all over the world much easier. And today wherever I attend divine service in the world, when I say “I’m from Cape Town” the members immediately talk about the beautiful music presented and performed by South Africans.
The situation in Asia
However, the situation in Asia was and is still today totally different. The New Apostolic Church in Asia was under the care of European ministers, who had emigrated to Canada. South African NAC members in Asia generally agreed that whilst they were easily accepted by local members, the Canadian ministers were not so welcoming and they got the feeling that, as South African members, they needed to “Know their place in the church”. Some of these members were reportedly called “Barnes’ sh*t”, a reference to the now retired District Apostle Noel Barnes. Many a time, members that were previously highly involved in musical development, conducting and choir work had to merely “sit in the benches” once they moved to Asia, despite the severe need for musical development and the sincere desire from the local members to learn more about NAC music. Sadly, some of these members also left the New Apostolic Church as a result of the treatment they received from these European ministers in Asia.
The situation in China
During this period the NAC Cape District Church decided to withdraw from supporting the work in China. At that time my dad was still heavily involved in business activities in China and we were also in the process of completing our studies and therefore my parents decided it would be best if our family continues in China. We were having a great time with our Chinese brethren under the leadership of the Chinese Apostle Daniel Wang.
My brother decided to get married and invited Chinese NAC youth members as well as the Chinese Apostle to attend his wedding ceremony in South Africa as well as the Youth Convention 2008. Excitement was high and preparation for our Chinese youth members to visit South Africa, got underway in all earnestness.
My dad got involved in arranging travel visas for our Chinese members to visit South Africa and we had regular meetings and choir practices to prepare our Chinese members for their visit to the Youth Convention 2008 in South Africa.
Dismissal of Chinese Apostle Wang and the instruction to “stay away from Chinese members”
With all the excitement in planning our visit to South Africa with our Chinese brethren, it was with extreme shock that my brother received a phone call from the District Apostle (responsible for NAC Southeast Asia), informing him that Chinese Apostle Daniel Wang was dismissed as an Apostle and we must “stay away from the Chinese members”.
Up to this point in time, as indicated previously, Chinese and foreign members of the New Apostolic Church in China were allowed by the church to associate with one another. This included; having divine services together, having social fellowship as well as, having various church activities together. However, two majorly impactful decisions were made by the church, namely:
- To dismiss Chinese Apostle Daniel Wang and at the same time discontinue soul-care for the approximately more than 16,000 local Chinese New Apostolic Church members and ministers in the Apostle Daniel Wang’s work area,
- To instruct South African members of the New Apostolic Church to disengage from every single local Chinese member of the church in China and the implementation of a system of separate soul-care for local Chinese members and foreign members, living in China.
These two decisions resulted in the segregation or separation between local Chinese and foreign (Non-Chinese) members of the New Apostolic Church in China.
As a South African, I couldn’t help but feel that this system and these decisions resulted in a system that carried characteristics very similar to that of “Apartheid” (a South African political system aimed at segregating whites and people of colour). I want to point out that the Chinese government had no hand in this.
Soul care discontinued for members in Chinese Apostle Wang’s work area
Whilst I could understand the dismissal of an Apostle, as it is not the first time this happened in the church, I could not understand why our church would stop soul care for the thousands of members in the Apostle’s work area. The Divine Service Guide was stopped from being distributed to the Chinese office bearers, who formed part of the Apostle’s work area and these ministers were completely ignored by the church leaders.
As indicated previously, the work area of Chinese Apostle Wang consisted of 285 congregations, 883 office bearers and about 16,700 members. Many attempts were made to get answers from the church leadership but these attempts were just ignored. We could not answer our Chinese brothers and sisters as it was our first time to experience such evilness, first hand.
How could this even happen in a church that professed the Apostle ministry as “the ministry of reconciliation” and preach that we must “love our neighbours”. Were the thousands of Chinese members and their Apostle getting too close with the South African members so that they had to be discarded?
We sought answers from our parents, who were still in South Africa at the time and my brother tried his utmost to keep the members together whilst, we tried to get answers for them. As South African New Apostolic Church members, it was extremely difficult for us to understand what was happening.
We had many situations in South Africa, where the ministry of senior office bearers was taken away, but the members in their work area were still taken care of. These members were never ostracized because it just so happens that they resided in the work area of a delinquent minister.
Recently one of the Bishops in South Africa decided to leave the New Apostolic Church to join another Christian denomination, however, the members in his work area are still being cared for by office bearers of the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa.
In South Africa my dad came under pressure to ignore the calls of our Chinese brethren, who were innocent in this situation. My mom cried when my dad told her that the church leaders were adamant that we walk away from our Chinese brothers and sisters, who we became very close with, as well as the Chinese Apostle Wang.
It was, therefore, with great sadness and deep heartache that we had to make the decision, on a church level, to “stay away” from our Chinese friends, brothers and sisters. I wonder if Jesus would be happy for His brothers and sisters to be separated from one another? The first Christians were living examples of what to do when faced with a situation that we were presented with.
Nobody ever prepared me for what was happening in the church in China. Outside of South Africa, a lot of South African New Apostolic members have resettled in Australia and New Zealand and I sometimes wonder how they would have responded if they were asked to stay away from the local Australian or New Zealand members of the church.
Another thought, do you know of any separation between local and foreign NAC members in any other part of the world?
Impact on Foreign NAC members living in North China and members living in Shanghai and surrounding areas.
Whilst completing my Master’s Degree, I spent a year in Shanghai (another major city in China) to further my research and I soon discovered that the decision to separate Chinese members from Foreign members was directed at South African members living in China and NOT other foreign nationalities, as the situation in Shanghai, where predominately European (German) NAC members could be found, was totally different.
As mentioned previously, myself and the other South African members involved with the Chinese brethren were specifically instructed that we should stay away from Chinese when worshipping, that we are putting the Chinese members lives in danger and to be honest it was almost like listening to a scary story your grandma would tell you as a kid. Needless to say, I was very fearful of mixing with Chinese when it came to the church.
So, imagine my surprise when I walk into my first divine service in Shanghai and find that several Chinese nationals are in attendance! I immediately thought to myself “weren’t we instructed to not worship with the Chinese? Didn’t the leadership say that we are: ‘endangering their lives’ or does this instruction ONLY apply to South African members in China?” I still believe that this is a valid thought as the membership in Shanghai is predominantly German, so I can’t help but think that there is a double standard.
Was the Nazi spirit still active in the church, as it once was among our church leaders in Germany?
In Shanghai, European members and Chinese members continue to have combined services with many European brothers having Chinese girlfriends and Chinese wives. This is the situation up to the present day.
The official reason for the segregation/separation was given as, “for the safety of our Chinese members”. This reasoning raises many questions. One example, “Why can European or German members and Chinese members of the church still have combined fellowship and church activities in Shanghai, China?”
These gatherings sometimes take place in the presence of a visiting Apostle, District Apostle or Chief Apostle.
Decision to transfer NAC membership to China
The fact that we were now isolated from our Chinese brethren caused great concern for my mom and dad and, after consulting their Apostle, my parents decided to transfer our NAC membership into China (under the care of the District Church, NAC Southeast Asia). They decided to move to China to be with us and to support us during this period of our lives.
This was not an easy decision for my parents but I am eternally grateful for their vision and that they practically showed us as children what it means to apply: “We are not of those who draw back” in our lives. I know of very few families that would have taken such a life changing decision.
Coincidentally on South African Freedom Day (27 April 2008) our family handed over our transfer papers to the then District Apostle Helper Hebeisen and District Apostle Latorcai in the presence of now retired Chief Apostle Leber. I will never forget that divine service in Ulsan, South Korea, where Chief Apostle Leber personally shared his well-wishes with our family and promised that he will always remember us in China. Chief Apostle also mentioned that 27 April was also the birthday of his deceased mother.
Whenever South Africans celebrate their freedom from Apartheid on 27th April each year, we remember our official transfer into Mainland China and we remind ourselves that the work in China still needs a lot of prayers, intercessions and reconciliation and maybe one day, God willing, we can also be free to worship our Heavenly Father, together with our Chinese brothers and sisters.
We hold fast to the word given to us by the Chief Apostle Leber, “We are not of those who draw back”.
A new dawn
Studying in China was quite a challenge and I wanted to throw in the towel many a time. However, I couldn’t waste such a golden opportunity and so, I worked especially hard to make sure that my lecturers and the faculty staff had the best impression of South African students.
During 2008 the head of the faculty of International Education called me into his office and to my surprise he told me that they have noticed how hard I’ve been working and how fast I’m developing in the Chinese language and in my major studies as well. I was very humbled by this acknowledgement. The Dean went on to ask for my help, he explained that they would like to offer ten (10) African students fully paid scholarships for a bachelor’s degree in the field of their choosing. This scholarship included; free tuition, free learning materials, a monthly allowance for living expenses, accommodation, health or medical insurance and more.
I thought to myself wow! What an amazing opportunity and I thanked the Dean. He then instructed me to work with the Admissions Department to get the ten (10) African students applications submitted as soon as possible. My first thought went out to helping those who were sitting at home unemployed without the chance of furthering their education. I especially thought of the many NAC youth that are struggling and don’t have access to any real opportunities to grow and develop.
I called my dad and told him this good news; he then helped me to contact various church leaders to ask them to recommend youth that are struggling in their areas and that could benefit greatly from such an opportunity. These members were identified, and the application process commenced.
Unfortunately, of the ten members that came to China to pursue a bachelor’s degree, only a few actually graduated. Some of them forfeited their scholarships due to a lack of academic performance, behavioural problems and various other reasons and had to return to South Africa. Even though the university and I had nothing but good intentions when setting out on recruiting these students, we could not foresee the outcome.
Years later I found out that there were rumours being spread that my family benefitted financially from these students coming to study in China. This could not be further from the truth, not only did my family receive zero financial benefit from these students or their families, but my family often had to assist some of these students financially with the purchasing of flight tickets to get them back to their home countries. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its boots on.” (Author unknown)
As China became a more and more popular country to seek employment, study and, pursue business opportunities so, more and more foreign New Apostolic members moved to China for short- and long-term stays.
As at 2013 there were 25 foreign New Apostolic brothers and sisters in various Chinese cities such as; Beijing, Dalian, Tianjin and, Shenyang. This area became known as NAC China North District.
As a combined area we often organized events and excursions so that we could grow closer as a group but moreover that we could grow stronger in our faith as well. We traveled within China and went to visit the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace and, the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.
We also had the opportunity to participate in the Korean Asian Youth Day hosted by our brethren in South Korea. We traveled by ferry from North China to South Korea, this was a very interesting and exciting trip and we made many spiritual experiences. During the youth day divine service, my brother was ordained into the Priest ministry and is still actively serving in the China North District Area.
There is nothing worse than being isolated from the Word, Sacrament and, fellowship. This is especially true in China as well. We therefore appreciated these moments of fellowship and the opportunity to be with our brethren from other parts of the world.
The China North District grew steadily with a strong choir and orchestra as well as, various congregation points made available by God-fearing members from the area. The Priests for the area went out of their way to travel regularly to serve all the members in the area, even if there was just one or two members, they would make sure that every member would be served.
Shenyang chapel and visit of District Apostle
Shenyang congregation in Northeast China, had the strongest membership and therefore a place was rented for us to have divine services and church activities as well. For me it was a dream come true to actually have a designated venue for church activities and this is something I cherish wherever I go. To have your own church building to go to on a Sunday morning is such a blessing and because of my time in China I will always appreciate every moment I get to walk into a church.
Shenyang congregation became the center congregation and hosted many combined events where all NAC members living in the China North Area would travel to, areas like Beijing, Tianjin and other areas in Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin and, Heilongjiang Provinces.
The District Apostle responsible for this region at the time was prohibited from entering Mainland China and therefore it was arranged that the District Apostle, responsible for Australia, and one of his Apostles visit us in Shenyang for Palm Sunday 2013.
We were beyond excited for this visit, a first for a District Apostle to visit us and we immediately started with all preparations. During the divine service the District Apostle served the departed souls and my dad and my brother (two Priests) served as proxies for the departed souls. This was a very emotional experience. The District Apostle shared that he was very happy with the work that my dad and brother performed, by providing soul care for the foreign members in the North China region.
Launch of Social media and expulsion from NAC Southeast Asia
As the membership in the area grew so did the awareness of Gods work in China and there was a need for connection. This gave birth to the NACIC Facebook Page, Twitter account, Instagram account and Website. The launch of our social media accounts and sharing of information on the development of the work in China was not well received by the responsible District Apostle and I was threatened with legal action from the Church.
The treatment we received from this District Apostle hereafter (the same District Apostle who discarded thousands of Chinese NAC members), reminded us of the way our Chinese brothers and sisters were treated, because later that year, we received a visit from the Apostle from Australia. His visit came right after a meeting that the Chief Apostle had with the District Apostles and Apostles of Australia and Southeast Asia, in South Korea. On this visit of the Apostle, we were informed that we had been expelled from NAC Southeast Asia District and transferred to NAC Australia.
The Apostle told us that he will not answer any questions and that we must just accept it for what it was. We felt that this was very strange that we were told that we are not allowed to question this decision. We were completely baffled by this decision and how members can simply be expelled from an area without even giving a reason.
Needless to say, this left us with a very bad taste, and I remember as the Apostle was leaving my mother remarked: “This is the last time that we will see this Apostle”. She said that she was reminded of our experiences in the past and how the Chinese NAC members were discarded without any reason. My mother did not take the visit of the Apostle and the news of our expulsion from NAC Southeast Asia very well and soon after that, she passed away.
Throughout all of the twenty (20) years of activity in China, the word that Chief Apostle Leber shared with us burned in our hearts: “We are not of those who draw back”. Now we can see how God protected us from the very beginning of our journey in this vast country.
The Way forward
Thank you for joining me on this journey as I reflected on the past 20 years of my family and my life in China!
I hope that you all have enjoyed this series of four chapters. To those members who have found themselves or still find themselves in similar situations, don’t draw back but draw closer to God, He will guide you. DO NOT LEAVE THE CHURCH! We thank and praise the Almighty God, our Heavenly Father:
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
I Timothy 1:17 NKJV
I am bursting with absolute excitement for the New Year, 2020, and for the re-launch of NACIC! What started out as a means of connection, a means of building awareness and a means of strengthening each other through sharing with each other has now become a global, multicultural and intensely international platform of NAC members from every walk of life. Thank you to each follower, thank you for each ‘like’, thank you for every share and most of all thank you for all your messages of support!
In 2020 NACIC will be more interactive! We want to hear from you! We want to share this platform with YOU!
We want to be more in touch with what happens in your congregation, your city and your country. We want you to have access to this magnificent platform of more than 25,000 FOLLOWERS. We will become more collaborative so that you can share your posts, videos, congregational activities and fellowships for all around the World to enjoy.
We will launch the rebranded NACIC on 1st January 2020, so keep connected by liking or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and visiting our Website. May God bless you and may you have a prosperous 2020.
On a personal note, now that I have completed my Doctorate (Ph.D.), I will be spending more time in Europe, Asia and Africa. I look forward to meeting you, OUR FOLLOWERS, personally.
“CHRIST MAKES FREE”
As always, we appreciate your input and comments. Please comment below.