Foreign Workers Flock to Worship Services in China

by | Mar 31, 2006 | Charisma Archive

Shanghai Community Fellowship reaches out to the estimated 500,000 expatriates in China
In a country known for stifling its underground church movement, a nondenominational charismatic ministry in China is thriving above ground and drawing dozens to Christ.


Christians in China say the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully among the more than 500,000 foreign expatriates, also called expats, working in Shanghai. English services in the ivy-covered Gothic-style Shanghai Community Church (SCC) are bursting at the seams with 1,500 worshipers from 53 countries.


“It’s a slice of heaven,” said Karen Pierce, an aerospace engineer from Minnesota who lives in Shanghai with her husband.


“Every Sunday we experience the miracle of God,” said John Chin, a church elder from Canada.


The nondenominational, charismatic Shanghai Community Fellowship (SCF) blossomed out of two small groups of foreign passport holders meeting at the Shanghai Hilton and Ritz-Carlton hotels. It jelled in 1996 when the Chinese government stepped in, warning believers that they were gathering illegally. Through what church leaders consider a miracle, the Christians gained permission to worship in the state-sanctioned SCC.


Built in 1925 for Americans, the church operated until the 1940s and closed for a time after communist leadership took control of China in 1949. Chinese Christians also worship there, but in separate services.


Although no provision exists yet for foreigners to register legally as a church, SCF operates under the auspices of the officially approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches of China. The Chinese government bans denominations and recognizes only five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and Taoism.


SCF is a lay-led ministry directed by seven elders from denominational backgrounds. The group operates an annual budget of about $500,000 and recently adopted a formal charter. It has distributed more than 1 million Bibles and pays medical expenses for orphans.


Shanghai is a rapidly expanding boomtown of 20 million people gorging on the fruits of China’s new economic power and affluence. Since 2003 SCF attendance has swelled from the rising influx of foreign workers. Standing-room-only crowds led to a second worship service in 2004.


The congregation is a multiethnic mix of expat believers and seekers from North America, Taiwan, Macau, Europe, Africa and Australia. Some raise their hands and speak in tongues during worship. Others stand quietly with eyes closed.


“There is no one way of worshiping God,” Pierce said. “There’s dancing in the aisles, liturgy and Spirit-led charismatic worship—without condemnation. All of the petty stuff fades away.”


“Although we are so different, the Holy Spirit has kneaded us together like a blanket with different colors,” said Mexico-native Jorge Solorzano, a plant manager with a U.S.-based auto parts firm.


“We learn to live with each other,” said Maxim Beti, a student from Cameroon. “We have the same aim in Jesus Christ.”


Although overt proselytizing is forbidden in China, people are won to Christ through one-on-one evangelism. Friends invited Constanza Leon, who is from Mexico City, to a church-sponsored Alpha course, which is an evangelism outreach. She became a born-again Christian after a few weeks, and she said her new faith helped her get through a serious personal problem. “It was Jesus in my life,” she said. “He changed my character.”


Observers say seeds of revival among Shanghai’s expat community are starting to bloom—even under China’s communist regime. Said Chin: “God is working something impossible.”
Peter K. Johnson in Shanghai, China

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Young, old, rich or poor—nobody is immune to the feeling of brokenness. Jesus' life, death and resurrection on earth is a constant reminder that death no longer has a sting. Fear and hopelessness lurk throughout the earth trying to find an opportune moment to consume...

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Actor Kevin Sorbo is known today for his roles in faith-based movies, like "God's Not Dead" and "Left Behind," but the iconic "Hercules" star's Christian roots took form at an early age. Sorbo recently told CBN's "Faith vs. Culture" he first read the prophetic book of...

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

In this article, cessationism refers to the doctrine, practice or belief that the ascension ministry gifts and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit ceased with the early church and do not function in the present church age (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12: 4-11). The...

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

We all have the same amount of time—four hours a day, seven days a week. And the longer I live, the more I discover that time is too valuable for us to waste any of it. That’s why it is so important that we learn to live on purpose, for a purpose. The truth is if you...

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

This article was first released by Curt Landry Ministries. Note: This is the first of a two-part series of articles. When you enter heaven's courtroom to do spiritual warfare, you are asking that the will of God, what is written in His books, be released from heaven...

The Spiritual Awakening of Buffalo, New York

The Spiritual Awakening of Buffalo, New York

Monday night, Jan. 2, 2023, God drew our nation to prayer as Bills player Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on live tv. Could this have been the largest spontaneous prayer meeting in the history of our nation—beginning with players on the field, spreading to...

RECENT ARTICLES

Mario Murillo: ‘What I Have Said About Kat Kerr and Robin Bullock Stands’

Perhaps you read my previous blog entitled "Mario, where have you been?" I went through a fiery ordeal before I obeyed God and wrote it. I thought, "Why should I wade into such controversy and incur...
Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Read Time: 4 Minutes 43 Seconds Of the many artificial sweeteners out there, such as aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet’N Low) and neotame (NutraSweet), aspartame is one of the most common. How common? Aspartame is an ingredient in more...

Messianic Rabbi: The Problem with Paul

Messianic Rabbi: The Problem with Paul

Read Time: 3 Minutes 36 Seconds I cannot tell you the number of conversations that I have participated in, or the number of sermons or Bible studies I have heard, where someone made the statement, “The problem with Paul is…” and then the person made a definitive...

Pin It on Pinterest