A Buddhist discovers the truth of God’s Word, a message he now shares with others.
“When I preach the gospel to people, people say, ‘You’re a stupid man.’ I just smile, and next time I will preach again. It’s my job. I’m a Christian.”
Qiang Wang (pronounced Chee-ung), a former Buddhist from China, used to be the one who scoffed at Christians and the message of free forgiveness through Jesus. But now as a recent graduate of the Pastoral Studies Institute (PSI), he is the one sharing the good news of salvation as he reaches out to the Chinese population in Coquitlam, a growing city 31 km. east of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“The Word of God changed me,” he says. “I have called [Christians] crazy people; now people call me stupid. But I don’t care.”
Finding the truth
Qiang was an influential businessman when he lived in China; he says money gave him his identity.
“At the time, I thought I was a strong Buddhist, but now I think I just believed in myself,” says Qiang. “The way I deal with Buddha: I gave him money; he gave me success.”
But his success came with much travel and time away from his family. In 2013, Qiang; his wife, Susan; and their son Ricky immigrated to Canada for Ricky’s education and for more time to spend together as a family.
That’s when Qiang started hearing the gospel.
“When I look back, it’s a miracle for myself. God loved me,” says Qiang. “When I first landed in Vancouver, when I went to get an account at the bank, the person gave me the message of the gospel. When I went to insurance, when I went to the grocery store, they all give me the gospel message—you should go to a church. God surrounded me with people preaching the gospel.” This type of personal outreach is normally unheard of in the Chinese community.
Three or four months later, a friend invited Susan and Qiang to hear a Chinese Christian pastor preach. “After the preaching, he called people forward to make a decision [for Christ],” says Qiang. “Susan raised her hand. I said, ‘Don’t do that! That’s crazy people. Do you want to be with crazy people?’ ” Qiang still was hanging on to his Buddhist beliefs.
He even tried to teach others about those beliefs when he started attending a Bible class at a Christian church while his son went to English classes. “We argued, and I said, ‘Okay, give me a Bible. I’ll find your false teaching,’ ” says Qiang.
He continues, “I love reading, so I read the book and I found the truth. The Word of God changed me.”
Qiang was baptized and joined a Chinese Christian church, but what he heard there was a lot of law. “Law preaching is really suitable for Chinese culture,” says Qiang. “Chinese culture says nothing is free; you have to do something.” Some teachings also conflicted with what he was reading in the Bible.
Qiang had many questions about the Bible’s teachings, but his pastor didn’t want to answer them. Says Qiang, “I was stuck in Isaiah, and I read it again and again and again.”
That is until Susan came to him one evening late in 2014, telling him about a pastor holding a Bible class in their apartment’s lobby.
That pastor was Geoff Cortright from Saviour of the Nations, Vancouver. “I don’t think it was an accident that we met the way we did,” says Cortright. “I had been praying for months that God would give us a Chinese leader before that night.” Cortright had just moved to Vancouver that summer to serve full time at Saviour of the Nations, which had an active ministry to the Chinese in the area.
Cortright answered Qiang’s questions and continued to teach the gospel to him and Susan. They were confirmed in September 2015.
Growing in the truth
Qiang continued to study God’s Word, now devouring People’s Bible commentaries and other religious books he borrowed from Cortright.
When he first started his PSI studies, Qiang thought he would just work on the first level so he could serve as a church elder. “I never tried to be a pastor,” he says. “I just wanted to serve.”
Yet his studies kept going, even when he had doubts about continuing. “I tried to quit many, many times. But Geoff [Cortright] had a strong faith. He told me, ‘You can do it.’ ” says Qiang. “Every time I try to quit, he just said, ‘Let’s pray.’ Geoff is my blessing God sent me.”
Qiang studied for four years—including learning Greek and Hebrew—with Cortright and seminary professors. He began serving as an evangelist for Saviour of the Nations in 2016, thwarting any opportunity to return to his business in China. “My family in China didn’t want me to [study in the PSI]. They thought I wouldn’t have enough money to sustain my life. I would have to lower my life level,” says Qiang.
He also lost many friends and business relationships from China. “They see me as a foolish man because I gave up all my beliefs. Now they don’t have contact with me,” he says.
But that didn’t stop Qiang. He completed his PSI studies in December and is set to graduate this month.
Some of his family have changed their tune as well. “I baptized my mom and dad and my mother-in-law,” says Qiang. “My family now are proud of me. They see I changed—a new man.”
Sharing the truth
Qiang was ordained and commissioned as pastor at Abiding Love, Coquitlam, in January 2020. Saviour of the Nations—with funding help from WELS Joint Missions and WELS–Canada—started this new mission church to reach the growing Chinese population. Qiang and his wife moved to the area in July 2019.
“I felt excited, but most of my feelings were scared,” says Qiang. “We only knew one family there—they were atheist” (see photo and caption about Richard and his family).
But that didn’t stop Qiang and Susan. “I go to the barber, I introduce myself. I go to the community center, I introduce myself. We buy a lot of furniture, so we go to different places, not because we don’t know what we should buy but because we want to talk to people—that’s our strategy,” says Qiang.
Susan also got involved in social circles in the area. She spends five or six hours a day texting people to show her Christian care and concern.
The Wangs built a list of more than 350 prospects within six months. Qiang began offering English as a Second Language classes in his home, followed by a Chinese Bible study. It began with just his atheist friend and his family attending, but more have come since. Qiang also makes dumplings several times a week—he is known as the “dumpling man”—to make further connections. “If you want to make people loyal members, build the congregation into a warm home,” he says. “Love and care for your members, not only sharing God’s Word but also delicious food.”
The going is slow. Many Chinese people attend the gatherings to “give face,” a Chinese cultural concept that governs relationships in which they want to show respect and not embarrass a person. Oftentimes, however, they do not show interest in the gospel message. Qiang also was planning on starting Bible information classes in February, but COVID-19 restrictions are hampering the meetings and ministry.
“We’re frustrated every day,” says Qiang. “In the morning, we pray that we have more energy to do it again. It’s all in the hands of the Lord. It’s not I do—God provides.
“We just stay faithful to the Word. The gospel is powerful. It’s not we who can persuade people or push people to do something. We just tell the truth.”
Learn more at wls.wels.net/pastoral-studies-institute about the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Read more about Richard’s story in WELS Missions’ publication Faces of Faith, wels.net/facesoffaith.
Ministry to the South Sudanese
Saviour of the Nations, Vancouver, and Abiding Love, Coquitlam, are part of a multi-site ministry served by Geoff Cortright and Qiang Wang.
Besides reaching out to the Chinese in Coquitlam, Saviour of the Nations also has started a third site in Surrey to minister to the South Sudanese Nuer population living there. After years of conversations and meetings and multiple visits and Bible studies with South Sudanese leaders, Saviour of the Nations held its first worship service in Surrey in July 2018 (pictured). Since then, Cortright has baptized many children and adults and brought 11 people through confirmation class. He is also doing elder training with three of the South Sudanese leaders.
Read more about one of the South Sudanese leaders from this congregation at wels.net/faces-of-faith-bidit.
Author: Julie K. Wietzke
Volume 107, Number 05
Issue: May 2020
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