SAN FRANCISCO--Linda Bergquist is a CSBC church planting catalyst working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her job description covers four associations, the Central Coast, CostaMeda, East Bay and San Francisco Peninsula Baptist Associations.
She works with new English speaking churches, including multi-ethnic churches and second-generation congregations among many people groups. Recently, at the retirement of Andrew Chan, long-time CSBC catalyst among Chinese in California, she has also accepted the new challenge of starting churches among Bay Area Chinese. Linda says, “I am doing my best to learn all I can about the 630,000-strong Bay Area Chinese population, local Chinese cultures and the SBC churches that already serve this community.”
Chinese immigration has historically come from several places. Some are from Mainland China, but until recently, the predominant peoples moving into the city of San Francisco, at least, have been from Cantonese speaking provinces. Now, more and more people are arriving from all over China. Many speak Mandarin since it is the national language of China, but they also speak many other dialects and languages.
China, is the largest country in the world with a population of more than 1.35 billion. In the same way as U.S. citizens from California are different from citizens from Alabama, the peoples of China are even more culturally diverse. Linda is trying to learn which Mandarin speaking Chinese cultures exist in the Bay Area, and to identify potential church planting leaders. One group of Mandarin speakers in the Bay Area is Muslim Chinese. The two largest groups of Muslim Chinese are the Hui and the Uyghur. Both groups are present in the Bay Area, but there is no real estimate of the group's size. Bergquist observes, ”They attend local mosques, shop at our local halal markets, and run halal- friendly restaurants. Both Hui and Uyghur are considered global unreached people groups, and they need our prayers.”
Other immigrants are from Taiwan who also are Mandarin speakers. More Taiwanese live in the southern part of the Bay Area, though there are many in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. San Francisco Mandarin Baptist Church has expressed an interest in starting a new Mandarin speaking church in Daly City where at least 7,000 Mandarin speakers live.
Yet a third group of Chinese comes from from Hong Kong, traditionally a Cantonese-speaking country. In the 1990s, the largest wave of Chinese immigrants to the Bay Area came from Hong Kong. In 1997, Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese governance. Since Mandarin is the official language of China, the school systems in China began teaching in Mandarin, too. Newer, younger immigrants, including international students, are arriving to the Bay Area who are fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Bergquist says, “These students are sometimes quite open to the gospel when they first arrive.”
Linda is extremely encouraged that many Chinese leaders in the Bay Area are enthusiastic about church planting. Fourteen recently completed training as Multiplying Churches. Several of these are looking for interns and other staff to help them reach out, grow their churches, and start new churches. Please pray that God will raise up Mandarin speaking, Cantonese speaking, and English speaking leaders to fill these roles. Pray, too, for inroads into the Chinese Muslim population. May Christ be glorified among Bay Area Chinese peoples.
Dr. Linda Bergquist