Legacy of China Missionaries Lives as New Church is Dedicated

1 Comment » Written on November 14th, 2007     
Filed under: News
NAN ZHANG, CHINA (November 14, 2007) – Listening to the two elderly Chinese women tell of the significant role early Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) missionaries played in their lives was humbling for Curt Peterson, executive minister of the Department of World Mission.

Peterson was in China for the dedication of a newly constructed church in the city of Nan Zhang. During a luncheon, several older members of the congregation recalled their experiences with early Covenant missionaries. Sister Yang, 76, (pictured right) recalled with tears how missionaries Carl Branstrom and Mildred Nordlund had shaped her life. Yang grew up as an orphan, under the care of Covenant missionaries.

Sister Chyan, 86, (pictured left) told the gathering: “Be faithful to the Lord to the end of your life and serve him with your whole heart and share the good news of the gospel with the whole world.”

When asked how they were able to keep their faith during the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution in China, they replied that losing their faith was not an option. “It was their faith that brought them through,” Peterson says.

“I was deeply challenged by the charge given to us by these two devoted believers,” says Peterson. “They prayed that we in the Covenant would continue to be bold and strong in our faith and that we would take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We were humbled in the presence of these two saints and renewed our commitment to spread the gospel.”

Before World War II, the Covenant had two churches in Nan Zhang. Covenant missionaries were forced to leave China in 1948, after missionaries Martha Anderson, Esther Nordlund, and Alexis Berg were martyred by bandits.

The land where those churches once stood was swapped for the property where the new church is built, Peterson says. The church has been recognized by the Chinese government and is operated under the Hubei (province) Christian Council. It was built with matching funds from the North American Covenant’s Great Open Door initiative and the Taiwan Evangelical Covenant Church New Hope Foundation, says Peterson.

Three hundred people attended the historic dedication and were welcomed by local residents playing traditional Chinese instruments. In addition to Peterson, other Covenanters attending the dedication were Dave and Judy Dolan, coordinators for Chinese Ministry for World Mission; Leo and Dana DeSpain, representatives from Hillcrest Covenant Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, which had contributed to the project, as well as a pastor and development worker from the Taiwan Covenant Church.

Pastor Syu from the South Central Seminary in Wuhan was the main speaker and spoke of being “Holy Unto the Lord.” A Covenant pastor from Taiwan presented the new congregation with a plaque of an eagle, representing Isaiah 40:31 – “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” The plaque was a gift from Covenanters in Taiwan and the United States.

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One Response to “Legacy of China Missionaries Lives as New Church is Dedicated”

My grandfather, Isaac W. Jacobson, was instrumental in beginning the 
Covenant church in Nanzhang in 1904. I would very much like to hear from anyone 
with an interest in, or knowledge of the nanzhang church, past or present. Thank you. 

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