BANG! BANG! BANG!
The shots came quickly and loudly, but I felt no fear nor did I know what had happened. It happened during a family restaurant visit at 3 pm in West Oak Lane. The husband casually explained that it was a drive-by shooting, reviewing footage from the security camera. I could tell he was experienced.
I had never heard gunshots that loud when I lived in Olney, but I knew the blue-collar Chinese immigrants in Northeast Philadelphia have endured worse. In the past 12 months, they have experienced over 40 incidents of assaults and burglary. Many were restaurant owners. Many ended up buying guns to protect themselves because they didn’t think the police could protect them. They feel that way because while the 911 dispatchers look for a translator, immigrant callers often hang up not knowing what’s happening on the other end of the line.
In late October, I called a community meeting to bring immigrants and police from the Second District together. One hundred and forty came. They came out of a concern for the public safety, but I don’t believe a meeting will give them everything they need. They not only need to understand U.S. culture, society, politics, but they also need Jesus.
With the life they’ve chosen to live, it is not easy for them to learn about Jesus. They work while others rest. Regular Sunday church attendance is a challenge.
However, when they do have time, they can learn. When I saw that I was not able to disciple many of these Chinese through Sunday worship, I started some Bible studies during the week. They were drawn to the teachings contained in the Serge curriculum, Gospel-centered Life, where the Reformed doctrines of grace are applied to real life issues. The Chinese are delighted to learn about justification, adoption, and sanctification.
In order to frame their worldview and their ethics, I also used passages from Scripture Union’s E100 Bible Reading Plan (built around 100 carefully selected short Bible passages— 50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament). While we studied the story of Noah, I was amazed that they spotted the repeating numbers in the story even before I told them about the chiastic structure in the Flood Narrative. In these studies, their questions show that they are paying serious attention to the Word of God.
Please pray that the Chinese immigrants will experience justice in the community and that they will begin to understand U.S. culture. But more importantly, please pray that they will know and follow Jesus.