Wellington Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Church
Juliana Tang-Hickey (鄧謙愛)
Basic Demographic Information
Official Name: Wellington Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Church
Church Administrative Unit: North New Zealand Conference, South Pacific Division
Date Officially Formed: July 28, 2014
Church Website: ???
Current Address: Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Date on which Current Sanctuary was Established:
Current Membership: .
When Dr. “Sue” Wang (王秀泉) said a tearful goodbye to her family and friends in China, little did she know that she would be the cause of a new idea and movement in New Zealand. A Chinese church friend told her that she should start an SDA church in New Zealand. She held the thought dear to her heart when she arrived in New Zealand. However, it was difficult for her to communicate in New Zealand, because her fluency in English was limited.
As she searched the area she finally settled in, Dr. Sue felt that her only option was to join a Chinese speaking Sunday church. It so happened that the Sunday church she joined was renting a space on Sundays from the Seventh-day Adventist in Lower Hutt (下哈特), a town on the outskirts of Wellington city. Dissatisfied with the situation, Dr Sue did some research and approached Pastor Roger Lang of the Lower Hutt SDA Church that she was an SDA member from China and had no choice but to join the Sunday church due to her language difficulties. Undeterred, she also approached the only Chinese-speaking Adventist pastor in New Zealand, Pastor Philip Ko (柯腓利), and begged him to come to Wellington to meet her friends to share with them the Advent message. As she was terminally ill with lung cancer, she felt that she could not leave the world without sharing God’s love with her friends.
At the end of 2013, Pastor Roger Lang was delighted to inform Dr. Sue that just a few months before that a new Adventist church plant had commenced in Upper Hutt (上哈特), and it was less than a kilometer from her house. Then Pastor Lang contacted Juliana Tang-Hickey, one of the leaders of the new church plant, and told her about Dr. Sue’s plight. Soon Juliana paid a visit to Dr. Sue. In the course of conversation, Dr. Sue came to know that Julian, prior to her migration to New Zealand, had lived in the United Kingdom for over thirty years and hence spoke fluent English. It did not take much persuasion for Juliana to meet Dr. Sue’s friends and to start a free weekly English language class for the Chinese community in Upper Hutt.
On March 8, 2014, it was a joyous occasion when Pastor Philip Ko arrived from Auckland to preach and meet the friends of Dr. Sue. The venue was the large basement room in Dr. Sue’s house. Sadly, Dr. Sue passed away on March 20, 2014, leaving a legacy and wish for a new Chinese church plant to be achieved by her friends.
It was a joyful occasion tinged with sadness that the Wellington SDA Chinese Church had a grand opening on July 28, 2014, attended by over 40 people. There was plenty of music, laughter and tears. Gavin Chen (陳平穎) led out the program. Pastor Ben Timothy from the North New Zealand Conference flew form Auckland to give a special prayer of dedication and to tell the children’s story. Pastor Philip Ko preached a challenging sermon. Five people responded to Pastor Ko’s altar call join God’s church.
The fledging church has a wonderful future, as it has been God’s leading and guidance that resulted in the fulfillment of Dr. Sue’s wish to have a church in her home city. It was no coincidence that a church plant started in Upper Hutt just a few months before Dr. Sue approached Pastor Lang. It was no coincidence that Pastor Ko was willing to travel from Auckland once a month to preach, funded by an Auckland friend who was moved to support his work in Wellington, and connect with the Chinese people in Wellington. It was no coincidence that Juliana, as the only Adventist Chinese-speaking member in Upper Hutt, can lead out this new Chinese group with her halting Mandarin but unlimited passion for God’s people in Upper Hutt. Continued prayers, thoughts, and hard work followed as God blessed those who stepped out in faith. At last one faithful woman’s vision and dream was fulfilled.
Six months later, In January 2015, a series of evangelistic meetings was held by Pastor Philip Ko, using the Lower Hutt SDA Church. As a result, one lady was baptized and three others joined the Wellington Chinese SDA church by profession of faith. It was a joyous occasion that this small group of committed members were willing to make sacrifice and dedicate themselves to sharing God’s love. Another lady was baptized in May 2015 and has been an active participant in church activities.
Many events have been held to raise the profile and presence of this group throughout the Wellington region, including three children’s concerts, mid-autumn festival celebration, Children’s Day program, social activities, community choir practices, monthly cooking classes, monthly needle craft groups, and others. Weekly programs include four free English language classes, free children’s Chinese classes, Bible studies, music practices and children’s Bible class.
Since February 2015, Auckland Chinese SDA Church has kindly sponsored the weekly payments of the Salvation Army church in Upper Hutt to encourage the activities and growth of this small group to continue. Pastor Ko with Henry Chang (常征), his Chinese assistant, continue to come to Wellington on a regular basis to minister to the group. The local leaders, Gavin and Juliana have taken on the responsibility of preaching, teaching and sharing God’s love with the local community.
Many people from Mainland China grew up with no religious education and beliefs. Some thirst for the God-shaped holes in their lives to be filled, while others totally reject any kind of faith and belief. As one of the largest ethnic groups of people migrating into New Zealand, these Chinese people are a constant challenge to our church.
The work of sharing God’s love in Wellington, and all over New Zealand, is great. Prayers and voluntary donations are welcome in order to accomplish God’s great commission to us His children in these last days. We pray that the Holy Spirit will enable the seeds sown to these people to take root and flourish so that Jesus can come soon to take His loved ones home. [Editor’s note: The writer is the eldest of the three daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Tang Lup Thong (鄧立通夫婦) of Singapore.].