Sitting in the church, I saw her come through the door. She leaned on the walker for support and friends helped her to her seat. She and her husband started the church on January 1, 1963. Now, 41 years later, the church was celebrating 30 years of ministry of its pastor.
As I looked around, there were hundreds present for the celebration. Yet my mind went back to the struggles she and her husband had during their early years of service. Oftentimes we are unaware of the many struggles others endured before we arrived on the scene. And sometimes leaders act as though they have done it all themselves, failing to acknowledge the many sacrifices of others who also have worked to impact the culture of our communities for Christ.
The woman I saw that day was a familiar face to me. I had encountered her and had benefited from her encouragement many times in my ministry. The woman was Dr. Cherry Chang. Her husband, Dr. Y.K. Chang, went to be with the Lord only a few years after starting Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles.
After her husband's death, Cherry Chang continued faithfully to support the ministry of Mandarin Baptist Church and today it is a healthy, thriving congregation in metropolitan Los Angeles. Each week, the church conducts services in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. They also have a youth worship service. About 950 attend Bible study on any given Sunday.
I often hesitate to mention names, but this event impacted me. Mandarin Baptist celebrated with honor the 30 years of Peter Chung's ministry as pastor of the congregation.
It is good to celebrate and remember. I have always been a person who believes we should honor and thank those who have gone before us. I've demonstrated that on a number of occasions at our state convention annual meeting during my preaching time. In the last year, I've been going through some of my old rolodex-card files, choosing names of persons who have encouraged me in ministry and contacting them to say, "Thank you."
This year, I encourage you to celebrate the gift God has given you in the life of your spiritual leaders. It's never too soon to start!