Continuing our reflections on Reformation 500, we invite you to consider the observations of Dennis Brown, pastor of Friendship Presbyterian Church in Taipei, Taiwan.
I had always heard how vibrant the church in China was, but had never had the opportunity to see it up close. So when I arrived in Hong Kong for Reformation 500, I was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with these hearty saints. I don’t want to idealize them as we are all sinners being saved by grace together. Yet the astounding growth of the church against such large odds is certainly one of the great events of church history. Reformation 500 did not disappoint.
You could palpably feel the love for Christ and his cause in the large auditorium near the Hong Kong airport. The singing, the attention given to the speakers, and the Thursday night event confirmed the vibrancy of this group of Christians. On Thursday night, Wang Yi gave the address and at the end invited people to respond to an invitation to commit to Christian ministry. Seemingly hundreds made their way forward. And then he asked everyone to get on their knees and pray. All over the auditorium, they put their hands and faces to the floor and prayed in unison for about fifteen minutes. It was glorious.
There were opportunities to connect with other Christians and exhibitors who shared resources that will help fuel the cause for years to come. I met several old friends. One of them was a pastor from Malaysia. I have been concerned [for him] since the abduction of Raymond Koi, a prominent pastor, who was taken in broad daylight on a Kuala Lumpur street and has not been heard of since. He is one among many others who are facing rising pressure in their country for their faith. I said to my friend, “You must feel like you have a target in the middle of your chest.” He said, “We are willing to die for Christ.”
Another highlight was the diversity of the church that came together. China, like many other places, has had to overcome some of the sectarian divides between God’s people. The leaders of Reformation 500 have made it their aim to bring together people from different fellowships and denominations around the gospel which was so well articulated in the Reformation and celebrated in this event.
They have also called people to the larger purpose of planting gospel-centered churches throughout Asia – with Reformed, Pentecostal, and broadly evangelical leaders. One friend in the church planting network where I serve in Taipei said he was humbled. He had felt for a long time that his Reformed convictions perhaps made him better than many of his brothers. At the conference, he met others of equal, if not greater commitment to Christ who did not come from the same background. He was enriched by the diversity of the Lord’s church and realized how much could be learned from them.
Along with hearing John Piper, Paul Tripp, Richard Pratt and different pastors from China, I was also encouraged by the work of Third Millennium Ministries who are making excellent seminary education available free to the major language groups of the world. I’m grateful to the leadership team who put on this event and believe the growth of the kingdom in China and other parts of Asia will be greatly enhanced for decades to come.