The 21st Biennial Conference: My Personal Reflection
Rev. Anthony Chunhai Li
“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.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 21st Biennial Conference of the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the United States and Canada at the Crosspoint Church of Silicon Valley. The theme of the conference was “Soar Like the Eagle Live Out Your Calling.” There were 208 pastors and church leaders who attended. The conference provided translation in Mandarin, English and Cantonese. There were many takeaways from the four-day conference and the following are some of my impressions and reflections.
The plenary speaker of the conference was Dr. David Allen who used the Text Driven Preaching approach to preach four messages and one workshop from the Book of Hebrews demonstrating how it is true to the substance, structure and spirit of the text. The messages were preached with clarity, truth-fully, convincingly, poignantly, and enchantingly, drawing the hearers to the realm of the Bible, and then leading them to down to earth applications, giving them a bountiful feast for a refreshing of their souls.
Many excellent workshops were offered at the conference. At the “Healing Heart Wounds: How the Church Can Help” workshop, the leader used role playing to help us differentiate between good and not-so-good counselors. It demonstrates to us the need for pastors to be good listeners to know how to wisely empathize with people to bring them out of their difficulties and let the warmth of the love of Jesus heal them. In the “Generational Partnership: A Way Forward” workshop, Rev. Terrence Shay spoke of his own journey in leading his church in developing the next generation ministry and nurturing the next generation of leaders by providing ministry opportunities for them to become the next generation of leaders in the church. He also invited two other pastors to form a panel and for them to share about their experience in nurturing the next generation of pastors. This workshop was particularly helpful in providing pointers to churches that have youth ministries.
For me, the most precious aspect of the conference was the opportunity to fellowship with old friends and getting to know new ones. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” ( Proverbs 27:17) I have benefitted much from interacting with them. Some pastors were learning as they minister. They must balance between ministry and family life and needed to overcome many obstacles to complete their dissertations. Their spirit encourages me greatly. There was a church planter who shared with me how the Lord called him to serve. He was born into a family that had been Christian for several generations. In high school, he was an atheist. His wife became a believer, and he began to have some connection with the Christian faith. The Lord used Matthew 19:23-30 to call him to service and caused him to leave his life and career in Beijing and brought his family to America to study and be trained at a seminary for a life of service to the Lord. He and his wife had been married for some years and they had longed for a child. They prayed to the Lord and He heard their prayers and gave them a daughter. Several years later, the Lord spoke to them in their prayers: “You shall have a son and he shall be called Joseph.” A year later, his wife conceived, and it was a boy. They called him Joseph. The family serve as church planters in Seattle.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shone hospitality with angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2) is worthy of mention as we experienced the hospitality of the Crosspoint Church. The pastor who picked me up from the airport drove me to a Korean restaurant to buy me a boxed lunch. Another pastor drove me to the airport at 4 in the morning to catch my flight back to Little Rock. Their humble demeanor in serving us touched all of us. The three meals served daily, and the cleanup were done by the pastoral and office staff led by their senior pastor, Rev. Ting Leung. Although the meals served were catered, they nevertheless passed through loving hands and humble hearts. We thoroughly enjoyed all our meals.
The conference elected a new slate of officers and coworkers for 2022-2024. Rev. Jeremy Sin was installed as the Executive Director of the Fellowship. The next biennial conference in 2024 will be held at the Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles. Pastors need fellowshipping and learning together. Coworkers need fellowshipping and learning together. Every believer needs fellowshipping and learning together. Through fellowshipping with one another and learning together, their spiritual lives will be renewed, their lives will be energized to soar like the eagle and live out their calling for the Kingdom work. May the Lord bless the Chinese Baptist Fellowship of the US and Canada to serve better and better and glorify His name.
Rev. Anthony Chunhai Li is the Pastor of the Little Rock Chinese Baptist Church. Earlier this year, he led his church to be constituted as an independent Baptist church of the Southern Baptist Convention.