Old Wineskins and New Wine: 1989-1994
The Second Pentad-Years of RCCC’s 25th Anniversary
Luke 5:36-39; 1 Corinthians 13:9-12; Select Verses
Elder Don Hong
Initiation of the English Ministry – The Single Most Important Change-Event in the Second Pentad Years of RCCC History – 1989-1994
In this second pentad-years [the 5-year period in the history of RCCC from 1989-1994] commemorating the 25th anniversary of RCCC, I would like to highlight, in my opinion, the single most significant event in this pentad that led to the growth and development of the Church.
While the callings of Pastor Hansen Chen as senior pastor in 1988 [tenure: 1988-1994] and Pastor Jireh Lin as English pastor in 1990 [tenure: 1990-2000] were significant events in themselves during the second pentad-years [1989-1994] of RCCC history, the single most significant and everlasting event may be the initiation of the English ministry that began in 1989. After 20 years, it is alive and well today. Its current worship attendance averages over 200 people each Sunday.
In the first pentad-years, especially in the 1983-84 formative years, RCCC was solely a Mandarin speaking church. Sermons, announcement and the written pages were all in Mandarin Chinese. In the following couple of years there was an initial effort to have simultaneous translation of the sermon to English but with no apparent success. Because of the limitation of the simultaneous English translation, and later side-by-side translation, the youths in the congregation were not fed from the spoken word. Soon they were, instead, taken out of the Chinese worship to have its own worship and that began the youth ministry at RCCC. Then the Church purchased its own building on Wake Forest Road and we moved from Forest Hills Baptist and had our first worship there on Thanksgiving Sunday, 1988.
Seven months later, in July 1999, the English ministry and congregation was birthed with a separate English worship. Like today, the English flipped-flop with the Chinese in worship time and Sunday school. Looking back, getting here was a rendering of Luke 5:39 which says, 36 … “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ” Luke 5:36-39 (ESV)
There was a lot of turbulence going forward to start the English ministry specifically in initiating a separate English worship. There were plenty of cultural and timing issues (e.g., “I want my kids to worship in Chinese, not in English” or “Raleigh Chinese Christian Church is a Chinese church not English” or “The timing is not right” or “Not yet” or “Wait until Rev. Chen is settled.” Granted, when it comes to changing long-held traditional Chinese-church convictions, changing is very difficult. More so 25 years ago. Looking back, change was possible though difficult.
To be sure, God essentially leads you and me by (his) decree, direction, discernment and declaration. By decree God sovereignly designs circumstances where he wants us to be even when we don’t have any conscious part or control over the matter. It occurs infallibly. By direction is what God does for us by giving us the commands and teachings from His Word. By discernment is how we follow God’s leading by a process of spiritually sensitive application of biblical truths to the specifics of the situation. Lastly by declaration is simply God telling us what we should do.
In the formation of the separate English worship, direction and discernment played big roles in its fruition. The following verses were deemed supportive and beneficial then:
This is a revealing of God’s directions from the Word. While we await our rewards in heaven, we should do good when we are on earth. The primary focus here is to serve those in the church, and to the people in the wider earth. Jesus tells us that the Christian’s primary allegiance is to the kingdom of God, to God as our heavenly Father, then to family, church and friends.
Generally discernments in life are not specifically spelled out in the Scriptures. It is a shaping of the heart and mind through His Word and prayers to give us an inclination as to what we should do. Fellowship with others of like-mind was immensely helpful. With the gradual influx of the English-only speaking and increasing number of youths, it was felt that the time has come for RCCC to meet the needs of this group and the resulting work enabled a growth and development of the Church itself.
This parable tells of Jesus and his teaching as the new wine coming into the world, but the scribes and Pharisees could or would not accept him and the teachings as new teachings and thus there were no joy in the relationship.
1 Cor. 13:9-12
The Holy Spirit helps us change by teaching us that God is merciful. Given our incomplete notions of him and not only is he willing to commune with us, but he also bless others in spite of our flawed conceptions. We often hear and even talk about thinking outside the box. We’ve been boxed in too long and we need to get out of our comfort zone. Paul reminds us of our imperfection. None of us are perfect but we can be assured that our walk with God has been authentic and perhaps others have been blessed by our ministry even if we have shortcomings about God and his ways. Too, surely God has an immense capacity and gracious generosity to bless needy souls in the midst of their erratic and incorrect notions of who God and the Holy Spirit are.
路加福音五章:36-39節; 哥林多前書十三章:9-12節; 節錄經文
英文堂事工的開始 — 洛麗華人基督教會歷史的第二個五年期間 – 1989年至1994年 – 唯一最重要的改變和事件
雖然在這五年當中 [1989-1994年] 於1988年聘請陳涵生牧師擔任主任牧師 [任期：1988-1994年] 和1990年聘請林以勒牧師為英文牧師 [任期：1990-2000年] 都是洛麗華人基督教會歷史很重要的事件，但最重要並且持續至今的事件可能是1989年英文部事工的開始。二十年後，這項事工仍然相當活躍。目前每週日崇拜人數平均超過二百人。
第一個五年，特別是在1983年至1984年成立初期，洛麗華人基督教會純粹是一個講中文的教會。無論是講道信息，報告事項和文書印刷都是用中文。隨後的幾年﹐嘗試了中文講道同步翻譯成英語，但果效不佳。由於同步英文翻譯，以及後來的並排翻譯的限制，會眾當中的青少年沒有得到靈裡的造就。不久﹐他們和中文堂分開崇拜﹐另外有自己的崇拜，從此開始洛麗華人基督教會的青少年部。後來﹐教會購買位於 Wake Forest Road 的教堂建築，我們從森林山浸信會(Forest Hills Baptist) 搬出來，並在1988年感恩節週日首次舉辦我們的崇拜典禮。
七個月後，英文堂事工和會眾終於1989年7月開始了自己的英文崇拜。就像今天，英文堂和中文堂交替崇拜時間和主日學。回首過去，我們能有這一天就好像路加福音五章36-39 節所說，36 …“沒有人把新衣服撕下一塊來補在舊衣服上；若是這樣，就把新的撕破了，並且所撕下來的那塊新的和舊的也不相稱。37 也沒有人把新酒裝在舊皮袋裡；若是這樣，新酒必將皮袋裂開，酒便漏出來，皮袋也就壞了。38 但新酒必須裝在新皮袋裡。39 沒有人喝了陳酒又想喝新的；他總說陳的好。’ ” (路加福音五章:36-39節)