Ten Years of Overflowing Grace ---RCMBC 1989 – 2000
written by Frank Chan (Translated by Cathy Leung & Siong Ng)
(Originally published in “The Voice of Truth” Autumn 2000 Edition in Chinese)
1. The Origin of RCMBC
The Sunday after Thanksgiving in October 1989, a small group of Chinese Christians - Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Chan, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Chan, Mr. & Mrs. Benny Leung, Mr. & Mrs. George Tso, Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Deer and sister Katrine Pong - started attending Richmond Bethel Church [now Church On Five]. The congregation at Bethel Church was very friendly and warmly welcomed us. We were quickly included as part of the Bethel’s congregation after Pastor Brad confirmed our faith in Christ with the previous church. Within a short period, we had built up a relationship with the rest of the congregation as one big family. Our names were recorded in the Bethel Church’s contact list as well as their prayer list. It was amazing to experience God’s loving family that’s inclusive of all races and nationalities!
2. Bible Study at Home
Shortly after we joined the Bethel Church, we began the Bible study and prayer meeting on Sunday evening at Mr. George Tso’s house. We also invited other Chinese-speaking brothers & sisters to that fellowship. We invited several pastors to lead the evening meetings, namely, Rev.Kar Park Chan, Rev. Enoch Wong, Mr. Xing Yan Xu, as well as Miss Linda Leung who led us to study the Book of Acts for 3 consecutive months. The consistency of our fellowship, with elements of teaching, studying of God’s Word and prayers, slowly formed the frame of a new church.
3. The Work of the Holy Spirit
Aware of our regular meeting on Sunday evenings, the Bethel Chruch’s Elders inquired about our vision to establish an outreach ministry for the Chinese community. Without a unified vision among ourselves at the time, we prayed unceasingly for 6 months for God’s will to be revealed to us. Without an experienced pastor to lead us, we lacked the faith to take up this burden. (Rev. Stephen Chan was still in his pastoral work at the Alliance Church in Toronto.)
God did listen to our prayers in these 6 months, and the Holy Spirit was at work. On April 29, 1990, Pastor Brad told us that he would join our Bible study that evening. He came with 3 elders and met with a few of us. They informed us of their resolution to activate a Chinese outreach ministry. Bethel Church would provide the building space, resources, as well as financial support when we were ready to start such ministry. Wow! God’s grace was exceeding what we had asked for. Even though we lacked faith and strength, He was merciful and abundant. Though we dared not ask for anything from God, the Holy Spirit had started the work in our heart. We were grateful for God’s wonderful deeds when we seemed to have nothing; we now had everything. We were deeply touched by the generous support and endless love from Bethel Church, working with us in unity, so that the Kingdom of God could be reached out to the Chinese community. When we announced this good news to the brothers and sisters in the Bible study group, all of us were overwhelmed, excited, and stayed late to praise God with thankfulness.
4. Working Committee
As we formed a working committee without delay, we wrote to request Rev. Stephen Chan to return to Vancouver to help us after completing his one-year term in Toronto. Rev. Chan understood our desperate need, so he accepted the request. We saw that as God’s second confirmation for the ministry.
In the meeting with Bethel, we were offered 2 options:
(a) An outreach ministry subjected to the direction and governance of Bethel Church, or
(b) A new, financially independent Chinese M.B. Church, with support from Bethel Church for the first 6 months.
After some prudent consideration, we decided to take the second option and submitted the proposal to Pastor Brad. On May 29, 1990 the proposal was reviewed and discussed at the Bethel meeting. At the Sunday worship service on June 3, 1990, Bethel Church formally announced the newly established Chinese M.B. Church. On June 12, 1990 at their Annual General Meeting, the proposal was accepted by the whole congregation. What God had accomplished for us was marvelous!
5. Starting of RCMBC
On June 17, 1990, Rev. Stephen Chan returned to Vancouver from Toronto. Pastor Brad introduced Rev. & Mrs. Stephen Chan to the congregation on June 24, 1990. Then on July 15, 1990, RCMBC held the first Chinese worship service, in which Pastor Brad led the prayer and exhortation, while Rev. Stephen Chan delivered the sermon. With brothers and sisters from various churches joining us, all of us praised God with thankfulness.
6. Official Established RCMBC
After 3 months of assessment by the BC M.B. Conference, observing that God had blessed us with His faithful servant and a group of passionate congregants, RCMBC was officially recognized as a member church. On October 7, 1990, Thanksgiving Sunday, the inauguration ceremony was held at Bethel Church, with opening speech by Pastor Brad translated by Mr. Paul Chan, sermon by Rev. Stephen Chan, and song offering by RCMBC choir. Group photos were taken with members of both churches, God’s love filled the place. We also had lunch together with the Bethel pastoral and deacons at 新華都 restaurant.
7. In these 10 years … (1990 – 2000)
God blessed our ministry abundantly and multiplied the number of attendants in our church. Within six months, with generous offerings from the congregation, not only were we able to cover the maintenance and janitorial expenses of the church, we were also able to purchase furniture and upgrade equipment in the sanctuary. Last but not least, God called Mr. Paul Chan to dedicate himself to serve Him. During his time at the seminary, Paul committed to helping with various projects in the church. By April 1991, the congregation increased to 90 people.
On July 4, 1991, Rev. Stephen Chan was informed by the BC Conference to attend the Conference of MB Church held in Saskatchewan. Mr. Frank Chan attended the meeting on behalf of Rev. Chan. At the Conference, RCMBC was officially recognized as one of the MB Church members nationally.
RCMBC was growing so rapidly that in March, 1993 Pastor Phebe Chan was recruited to head the Christian Education Department. In April, 1993 Rev. Chan became our Volunteer Senior Pastor, and in September we had Valerie Yiu as the English Ministry Pastor, working part time until her departure in December 1994.
On January 31, 1995, Rev. Chan suffered a heart attack, he was hospitalized and was unconscious. God revived all of us through this event, and we fervently prayed for Rev. Chan every evening. God listened to our prayers and with His healing hands, Rev. Chan gradually recovered and he shared many details in his personal testimony. In November, 1995 Rev. Chan resigned from the position of Volunteer Senior Pastor, taking the role of an advisory pastor instead. As for the English Ministry, Lily Lee worked for us until February 1999. In December 1995, Pastor Peter Mau became our Senior Pastor till now.
8. New Church Development
Since 1994, RCMBC had worked closely with Bethel Church on church expansion. We had jointly purchased the house at the right side of Bethel Church for fellowship and other church activities. Later on, the house was demolished to create parking space. We also proposed to add a roof top to extend the open space by the Fireside Room in order to enlarge the sanctuary area. However the proposal was suspended after engineering inspection.
In late 1996, the Christian School and Bethel Church entered into a joint project for a new school building. We were blessed once again to be invited into the project. We were allocated the space between the school and Bethel Church to build our own sanctuary. The construction was finally completed in March 1997 at a mere cost of CAD$400K+, completed with new seats, grand piano and brand new sound systems. Our first worship service at the new sanctuary was held on Easter Sunday.
9. Review and Reflect
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalms 103:2)
People are forgetful, time passes and memories fade, but God’s grace should never be forgotten. If we were to recount our human effort in the past years, all we could get would be ignorance and weaknesses. Yet, God declares His wonders through our weaknesses; He also fulfills His goodness despite our foolishness. Such is true at RCMBC, and also all the churches that belong to Him.
May RCMBC continue to stand firm in truth, strengthen in faith, overflow with thankfulness, so that we “may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God, without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then we will shine like stars in the sky.” (Philippians 2:15)
Frank Chan (1925-2007)
One of the first members of RCMBC in 1990