State Baptists help Lottie Moon church movecomment (0)
June 15, 2006
A vibrant congregation founded by Lottie Moon, the famous missionary to China, has moved out of the crumbling temple it used as a meeting place, thanks to an Alabama Baptist church.
The partnership between Mountain Brook Baptist Church, Birmingham, in Birmingham Baptist Association and Meng En Christian Church enables the Chinese congregants to stretch their legs and invite their friends. The original Pingdu building, assigned by the government in 1987, was built for 150 people, but services often included more than 500 people.
Now the new building for Meng En Christian Church officially seats 1,500, though nearly 2,500 people crowded into dedication services May 3. A delegation from Mountain Brook attended the services.
The first project the Alabama church did with the Pingdu Christians was to provide a motorcycle for the church’s pastors in 1997. In a city where space is a luxury, motorcycles provided an efficient and effective mode of transport for pastors on their daily calls.
Accepting an invitation from Mountain Brook to visit the United States in 2000, a delegation from Pingdu and the Qingdao Christian Council worked with Mountain Brook on building plans for a new Pingdu church.
“We were enlarging our own building in Birmingham, and we felt we could help our brothers and sisters in Pingdu to enlarge their situation too,” said Jim Moebes, pastor of Mountain Brook Baptist for 35 years.
With $150,000 in funding from Mountain Brook, the Chinese Christians negotiated with the Pingdu government for an optimal building site. The Chinese raised money by donating wedding jewelry and other valuables and neighboring Christians helped. In the United States, churches from California, Texas and Georgia heard about the project and directed offerings to a special fund at Mountain Brook.
When it came to the partnership, they said, members of Mountain Brook felt like they had a duty to the mission Moon started in the late 1880s. Moon was one of the first women of any Christian group to set up a mission station inland, away from protections available in port cities. Pingdu was a four-day journey by mule from her regular station in the coastal town, which is known today as Penglai.
Moon was the only foreigner in the region, and she gained acceptance by adopting the Chinese lifestyle in minute detail.
“We picked up work that Lottie Moon left,” said Alvin Pelton, minister of education at Mountain Brook.
Despite the grandeur of the new building, Pingdu congregants plan to keep their old building in the heart of the city, as it will come in handy for a central meeting place and auxiliary site for church events.
Covering a rural area and city of 1.3 million people, participants in Pingdu’s Protestant church often meet in small buildings or homes with leadership of laypeople until one of the pastors or evangelists is able to visit via motorcycle. On holidays and for special preaching services, all come together in the city.
Senior pastor for the Pingdu church, Wang Xia, is a fourth-generation believer whose ancestors were among the earliest Christians in Pingdu. (ABP)