They Heard The Gospel In Their Own Tongue
Imagine being a Chinese student just arriving in the United States to study in a small college town. Imagine stepping off a bus, overwhelmed with an entirely different culture, thousands of miles from home, where nothing is familiar. Imagine your astonishment when, suddenly, you hear someone speaking your own language! Members of Greater Lafayette Chinese Alliance Church (GLCAC) have arrived to offer transportation, temporary housing, friendship, and hope to hundreds and hundreds of Chinese students coming to West Lafayette, Indiana, to attend Purdue University.
With almost 4,500 Chinese students and more than 400 Chinese faculty and staff, Purdue welcomes the second largest Chinese university population in the country. GLCAC, the only Chinese church in the area, is within walking distance. God has strategically placed this growing ministry in the middle of a ripe mission field.
“A lot of the students have no idea about church or God, but we’re comfortable because we’re Chinese,” shares Youth Pastor Chuck Carter. “Students are brand-new to Christianity. We’re starting with a clean slate.”
Although it’s a secular campus, Purdue encourages students to become involved in the community, even in churches. The members of GLCAC who serve as faculty and staff at the university have the opportunity to invite their students to outreach events.
GLCAC hosts an annual Chinese New Year celebration with more than 600 people. It’s a huge potluck with Chinese food representing all of China. The church provides a massive batch of dumplings, a gospel presentation, and traditional Chinese dancing and music to complete the event. “Within our small city, we have over 7,000 Chinese students and residents; we want them to know about Jesus,” Pastor Chuck continues. “Our church does well at community outreach because they all understand what it’s like to relocate to a different country.”
They reach out not only to college students, but also to local Chinese families, visiting parents, highschoolers, and children. An evangelistic Bible study leads to dozens of baptisms at celebrations multiple times each year. But because GLCAC did not have its own facility, these ministries were maxed out and future growth was nearly impossible — until recently.
The church had started decades ago as a Bible study group before becoming an accredited Alliance church in 1995. Since that time, they had met in nine different locations. “We’d been gypsies for a while,” explains Pastor Chuck. But in July 2014, they began a building program on six acres, asking Pastor Chuck to co-lead the building committee.
In April 2015, the loan process began with ADF; it wasn’t approved though until January 2016. Why the nine-month delay? Pastor Chuck believes that God was teaching them to trust Him, even with the sensitive issue of finances. “The waiting was frustrating, but we learned a lot,” he explained. “ADF was patient with us.”
Hoping for completion in May 2016, a permanent place to minister to the students is in sight. Most of the GLCAC students graduate and leave their college town church. But when they do and return to their homes around the world, they’re taking the gospel with them.