From the General Director
In the Old Testament time, it was customary to set up a memorial at the site of God’s Great is Thy Faithfulness, miraculous intervention. According to the Book of Joshua, twelve stones taken out of the O God my Father… bed of the Jordan River were set up at Gilgal as a permanent memorial for the people of ~Ernest Kong Israel. The purpose of this memorial was so that the Israelites could teach their children about the great things God had done in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. A Lifelong Commitment to These stones served as a sign and a testimony to show that God had been faithful and He God’s Call was able to bring to pass what He began. ~Margaret Hodgkinson The 3rd of May 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the dedication of our Mission Centre in Milton Keynes. I saw the brand new Mission Centre on my first short-term mission trip to COCM in June 2003. At first, my attention was drawn to the beautiful Cooking for the Love of God design of the building. But as I learned about the story of God’s faithfulness behind it, I ~Joe and Jessie Ong was awestruck by the powerful testimony it signified. It was here as a sign to show that God had been at work through the mission of COCM. For this issue of Link, we invited COCM Finance Ernest Kong, husband of our President Emeritus Mary Wang, to share with us how God ~James Lo had made wonderful provision from the start to the finish of the Mission Centre Building Project. We need to remember the great things God has done in the past so we can trust God for the greater works that He will do in the future. As a younger generation enters into the mission field of Europe, it is important for us to learn the stories that bear witness to God’s faithfulness to our older generation of workers, so we will have a point of contact with God’s work through the years and recognize that the mission of “Reaching the Chinese to reach Europe” began long before our time. At the COCM staff retreat in May, our workers spent a day remembering when we heard God’s call and followed Him on the journey to the European mission field. We interviewed some old timers to learn from their past experiences. It was such a privilege to hear the personal accounts of God’s servants who walked ahead of us and set great examples for us to follow. We asked Margaret Hodgkinson to share her life lessons with our readers and to encourage those of you who are still sorting out your calling. Looking back through the history of COCM, we see a generation of faithful friends and supporters who responded to God's call to be our partners in the ministry of the gospel in Europe. They often gave sacrificially, without fanfare, and some of them even continued to give to our Mission after they went to be with the Lord, through their legacy. They are indeed the heroes behind the scenes and we give thanks to the Lord for all their fragrant offerings. With the passing of the older generation, we pray that God will bring to us a new generation of friends and mission partners who share the same vision God entrusted to COCM. As we look to God in time of need, let us remember that the signs and testimonies among us also have a greater purpose for the world, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:24)
Rev. Henry Lu
Reaching the Chinese to Reach Europe
Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father… A recap of how God provided the Mission Centre at Milton Keynes Way back in 1999 when the COCM was nearing her 50th anniversary in 2000, there were discussions as to how we should celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Mission. We had been in 2/4 Earlsfield Road, London SW18 for nearly 30 years and it was time to consider moving as the Mission had grown. In the autumn of 1999, we had our International Consultation in Milton Keynes and during our discussions, General Director Mary Wang proposed that we should consider moving our Headquarters to Milton Keynes as it was a fairly new town and there were many Chinese moving to live there, especially after 1997 when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule. Another main reason was that Milton Keynes was on the main M1 motorway which made it easier for brothers and sisters to come from the north and the south to take part in the activities of the Mission. We should purchase a piece of land and build a mission centre that would
serve as our HQ and provide training facilities. When this was put forward at the meeting, the Council members were all shocked and surprised by Mary’s boldness and trust in God. Mary felt God had given her this vision to have our own training centre where we could train workers for the mission field. How much such a project would cost was the next question. The answer was about £4 million. How could we raise such a large sum when all along the Mission had been dealing with hundreds of thousands in our budget? We could sell the Centre at Earlsfield Road and then try and raise the rest. Our then Field Director Reverend David Cheung was most supportive and he promised the first gift to the building fund. During that time, a small architect’s practice was found and one of the partners was Rodney Tan (he graduated from Nottingham University and was involved in the Nottingham Chinese Christian Fellowship as Chairman). He and his partner Stuart Mercer came up with a proposed plan and we approached the Milton Keynes Authority to purchase a piece of land. Land was available in Fishermead, near to the town centre. This was purchased and planning permission was sought and granted within the year. A small group was set up to discuss the drawings and plan for the building. Building work started towards the end of 2001 and the completed building was handed over to us in March 2003. How should we furnish such a building with over 40 rooms and office space? We thank God that Samuel, son of our staff worker Ruby Chan, had a furniture design business; he designed the furniture, and then had it made in China and delivered to Milton Keynes to be assembled. Meanwhile, we had to start fundraising in earnest to pay for the project. The Centre in London was sold for about £1.6 million in 2000 and we moved the HQ and offices into rented premises in Milton Keynes to continue the work. When the whole project was shared with our supporters around the world, there was a great response and gifts began coming in for the project. Our late Chairman Lord Michael Chan and his wife Irene travelled with Mary and me to South East Asia to share and raise funds for the project. Throughout our travels, we were encouraged by returnees who supported the project.
Members of the COCM Council in front of the new Mission Centre
Thanksgiving and Dedication Service
The burden of raising the necessary funds fell on Mary’s shoulders and I could feel the pressure she was under. Throughout Mary’s years of service with the Mission, she claimed the promise of the faithfulness of God in all she did. I was serving as the co-treasurer helping with the fundraising effort. The two years of fundraising for this great project taught us many lessons of God’s faithfulness. During our time working at home, God directed our thoughts to His promises like ‘ask and it shall be given’, ‘he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine’, and many more such encouraging verses. However, the funds received were slowing down as the building work was moving ahead. We had to make stage payments to the contractor and our funds were running low. We rang the office regularly to see if there were any large gifts in the post. The answer most of the time was ‘no’. As the completion of the building was nearing at the end of 2002, we were still £1.3 million short. Of course we could seek a bank loan or mortgage but we continued to place our trust in Jehovah Jireh, that He would provide all the necessary funds.
The new building under construction
she was donating one million; she did not want her identity known. Mary asked Dr Cheung whether it was one million HK dollars (the value then was roughly £85,000) but was told that the gift was for one million English pounds. I remember Mary dropped the phone and she was speechless. Dr Cheung told Mary to ask me to fax him the bank details as this person wanted to transfer the money that day. After that wonderful phone call, Mary and I fell to our knees to thank God for His wonderful provision and also to ask for forgiveness for our lack of faith in Him. God kept His promise and it was now up to us to raise the remaining funds to pay for the project. Within 4 months in 2003, the remaining £300,000 came in and on the great and wonderful day, 3rd of May 2003, during the dedication of the Mission Centre by the late Reverend Dr John Stott, Mary was able to stand up and tell the invited guests and friends that our God was faithful and His promises were always true. We dedicated this building to God without a single penny of debt or borrowing. What a wonderful lesson we learned; and now ten years later, God continues to bless the Mission as we honour the words from our Mission theme song ‘Facing a Task Unfinished’ written by our first Chairman, Bishop Frank Houghton. All Glory and Honour be Unto God our Heavenly Father. Amen.
On the morning of 24th December 2002, Mary received a phone call from Reverend Dr James Cheung (Senior Pastor of Kowloon City Baptist Church) in Hong Kong, saying he had good news for her. One of his church members would like to make a donation towards the building project and
A Lifelong Commitment to God’s Call Margaret Hodgkinson
Margaret Hodgkinson and her late husband Pastor John Hodgkinson were called by God to serve the Chinese people when they were young. In 1957 they were sent as missionaries by the MCOD (Methodist Church Overseas Division) and served in the Chinese Church in Sarawak, East Malaysia for 20 years and then, from 1978, in the UK, on secondment with COCM for 25 years. Pastor John went to be with the Lord in June 2003. Margaret continues to be a part of the COCM family and has since encouraged many of our workers from a younger generation to serve Christ with a lifelong commitment.
I was born in Boston, Lincolnshire into a 2nd/3rd generation of Methodists. We weren’t a very deeply evangelical family but my parents were genuine Christians, and by the age of 16 I was eager to share my faith. I always loved Missionary Sunday - a special annual occasion at my church because a “real live missionary” would come to visit. It was wonderful because in those days before TV we got to meet someone who had been in a different country and brought things from that country and dressed up in clothes from that country. So I grew up interested in missionary work. After university, I was trained to be a physics teacher. One day, a missionary from Africa came and spoke of the need for science teachers and especially women. When I left that meeting I was sure I wouldn’t be teaching in England very long. It was as if God was saying that I would be serving Him overseas. John was from a different background. He didn’t become a Christian until he was 18. In the evening of his conversion to Christ, he had the conviction that he was called by God to share the gospel with Chinese people. Soon after we met 3 years later, I knew that he was called to work among the Chinese. Since I was simply told that I wouldn’t teach in England for very long I didn’t find it difficult to go with him. I’ve always felt
that I wasn’t specifically called to be in Chinese work, but I was called to be John’s wife, his support. Even when we knew that we loved each other, John waited before asking me Margaret telling her life story at to marry him. The the COCM staff retreat reason was that he wanted to be 100% sure that our marriage was God’s will. So when he did propose, I knew it was God’s will and no matter what happened in our marriage there wouldn’t be anything that we couldn’t sort out. When we were sent to Sarawak in 1957, we found the living conditions there very simple. At the time the region was very rural, probably 20 years behind West Malaysia in infrastructure development. We spent one year in Sibu town to learn Mandarin. There wasn’t a language school so we found some of our own teachers including the local hairdresser. We were then posted to a remote area about 8 miles by river-boat from the nearest town; and the boat came in twice in 24 hours with the tide. There was one spring of water to supply 4 houses and a school. There was no electricity and we had a paraffin stove. For 20 years we served in small towns near Rejang River. It was such a blessing to minister to rubber growers and pepper farmers, and as projects developed John’s practical knowhow was invaluable. John’s two great passions were the Gospel and the Chinese. By sheer diligence and application he learned to read and write Chinese and became fluent first in Mandarin, and then in Cantonese. Since he fell in love with everything Chinese, I realised from the start that if he was to be devoted to that then my role was to save him from spending time on doing anything else. And I came to love the Chinese because he did. After we joined COCM in 1978, for about 2 to 3 years in the 80s I was the prayer request secretary. In those days every Chinese Fellowship or Church and every missionary was asked to send in prayer requests every 2 to 3 months and they were put into a diary to be
distributed so that every day someone would be prayed for. Effie Berry used to edit the diary and I took it over from her. I would go to the old Headquarters in Earlsfield Road in London for a couple of days, and would work in the office and live in the building. It was lovely. Before John even asked me to marry him he said to me, “Margaret, you know that I want to die with my boots on.” I knew he meant that he would never retire. God didn’t call us just until we were 60 or 65. He called us for life. In 1978, COCM placed us with Manchester Chinese Christian Fellowship (MCCF), a growing group which had begun in 1966. It became Manchester Chinese Christian Church (MCCC) 6 years later. As the Cantonese work developed quickly and the Mandarin work began later, so John was working all hours and he often wasn’t there when I had difficulties with my teenage son at home. I remember one night kneeling on the stairs and crying out that I didn’t ever want to see any more Chinese because John was so busy and my son such a problem. I also thought that if John went to be with the Lord before me, I would not do much Chinese work and would get involved with other things such as my concern for global
justice and peace. But when John died 10 years ago, I knew that I would carry on any part of his work that I was able to do, both for his sake and because I had come to love the Chinese as a people. God doesn’t have a time when we stop. One secret Rev. and Mrs. John to keep a lifelong and Margaret Hodgkinson commitment is to remember that He is Jehovah Jireh. We always lived simply and were never in want. Each person’s calling is different and you’ve got to work out what yours is. Of course God can greatly use shortterm people and volunteers who don’t stay for life. But most of all God needs people who do follow on and stay. He needs the committed long-term people. I believe that God wants you to think beyond the short term and I feel sure that God is calling some of you to full-time work, for life.
Margaret with a younger generation of COCM workers
Cooking for the Love of God
Joe and Jessie Ong
Joe was born and raised in Malaysia and Jessie in Singapore. They met in Singapore and immigrated to Australia in the 1970s. Joe was working for the government and Jessie was a trained nurse. In the 1990s, they managed a student accommodation business and retired in 2005. Hospitality and sharing the gospel with new friends are their common interests. They love people and regularly have friends over for a meal. It has always been their hearts' desire to serve the Lord in every possible capacity and to be involved in mission work.
Our hearts for the Chinese people In 1997, we went on our first short-term mission trip, to Myanmar, together with our two children. Over the past 15 years we have taken part in many short-term missions with different organizations working in various parts of China. Our assignments ranged from medical and community development, poverty alleviation and potato growing projects, to English teaching camps in high schools. Our frequent trips to China have broadened our vision to serve and reach the Chinese in different ways. After our retirement, we decided to spend more time in volunteer work in China. But the visa restrictions made it difficult for us to stay there longer.
From Melbourne to Milton Keynes We visited the UK in 2011 as tourists but we had never thought of the country as a mission field. However, since the length of time we could stay in China was limited by our visas, we considered this as the Lord 'closing the door' for our time there, but not so the ministry to the Chinese. We were willing to go wherever God opened a door. It was in early 2012 that we heard about COCM and we were very impressed by their vision to reach overseas Chinese and the students from China, the country we wanted to work in. We were most surprised to find that the UK had become a mission field, where thousands of Chinese, especially students, could be reached openly with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord was so gracious to us. He knew our hearts' desire and led us to COCM. After a brief interview with COCM’s leadership team on Skype, we decided to come and give it a try.
Joe preparing a meaty dish in the kitchen at COCM
Kitchen ministry When we came, we were not aware of what lay ahead. We knew our limitations and inadequacies as we were not formally trained in theology and were getting on in years. However, we thank God for our life experiences, especially those years spent in rural China during which He had equipped us for His use. Â We were happy to learn that there was a need for someone to cook and cater for the Easter Camp. Jessie especially loved cooking. She used to spend hours in the kitchen preparing dishes for the next day, making desserts just for that extra enjoyment of everyone. We joyfully accepted the challenge to cater for a group of 150 people! It was a wonderful experience to cook for such a group of young people who hungered for God's Word and sought to be different. For the next three months in COCM, we enjoyed cooking for the staff as well as catering for various functions, as COCM opened its mission centre to other churches, fellowships and mission agencies to hold their seminars and conferences. Hospitality was a gift that God had given us as a couple and cooking was something we both enjoyed. God was truly amazing as He creatively put us in a place that both of us could use our gifts to serve in the mission field!
What an eye opener! When we did not need to cook, we visited the Chinese student fellowships in various cities and interacting with young people was an eye opener for us. We met many undergraduate and postgraduate students who were very committed to Christian service. Many of them came to know the Lord Jesus in the UK during their studies. One postgraduate student told us that he had never heard of Jesus before he came here. There was such an openness and hunger for spiritual truth among the Chinese students. Our hearts were deeply touched as we saw so many of them coming to know the Lord and many more seeking to study the Word. Their wonderful testimonies were so encouraging to us. The COCM staff workers are incredibly gifted and effective in their ministry. Some of them have been postgraduate students themselves here in the UK before they responded to the call to full time mission work. Living at the COCM Mission Centre in Milton Keynes has been a wonderful experience. We
Jessie getting the food ready for a camp at the mission centre
Everyone loves Joe and Jessie
live together as one big family in the Lord, interacting, working and eating together. Ye t t h e r e i s still enough room for each person to have his or her own space. The big commercialscale kitchen here can be very busy but without a lot of stress. Everyone helps in the cleaning up after lunch, a busy but blessed time of serving one another! The volunteer programme is indeed an excellent opportunity for committed students to set aside a period of time to seek God's direction for their lives and to be taught and mentored in various aspects of Christian living at COCM. We treasure the special time we spend with the young volunteers who put aside their careers to serve here after graduation.
The harvest is ready… We are excited to see the fruitful results from the gospel outreach activities in each city and the camps held in COCM. God willing, we hope to return to COCM in December 2013 for the year-end camps. We will share the vision of COCM and our experiences with our fellow brothers and sisters in Melbourne. May the Lord call many more workers to His mission field here in the UK and Europe. The field is white unto harvest!
Income & Expenditure Account for Jan-Mar 2013
James Lo - Treasurer Currency: £ (GBP)
We are cautiously optimistic about the state of the finance. Expenditure has been kept well under budget. Income for Q1 is stable but need to see further improvement to ensure we end the year without a deficit.
HEADQUARTERS General Director: Rev Henry Lu 2 Padstow Avenue, Fishermead, Milton Keynes, MK6 2ES, UK Tel：+44-(0)1908-234-100 Fax：+44-(0)1908-234-200 E-mail：firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site：www.cocm.org.uk
HONG KONG OFFICE Rev Tang Chi-Ming Room 522, Metro Centre II, 21 Lam Hing Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel：+852-2549-5288 Fax：+852-2549-5155 E-mail：email@example.com Web Site：www.cocm.org.hk Chairman: Rev Cham Nai-Bun
MALAYSIA OFFICE Mr David Liew Unit 697-2-2, Desa Kiara, Jalan Damansara, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel：+60-(0)3-7722-3670 E-mail：firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Web Site：www.cocmsea.org Chairman：Mr Bryan Lee
SINGAPORE OFFICE Chairman：Professor Hanry Yu 420 North Bridge Road #05-07 North Bridge Centre Singapore 188727 Tel：+65-6338-6283 E-mail：firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site：www.cocm.org.uk
USA BOARD Chairman：Rev Daniel Chan c/o Mr Guang Xu, 611 Belchertown Road, Amherst, MA 01002, USA Tel：+1-860-413-275-4718 E-mail：email@example.com Web Site：www.cocmusa.org
Published by the: Chinese Overseas Christian Mission. Registered Charity No.1135892 Company No.7106567
Editorial Committee： Rev. Henry Lu．Ling Lu．Min Yin． Yu-Mei Wu
COCM Link is a quarterly publication reporting on the work among Chinese in the UK and Continental Europe. It is free upon request. Please provide us with the following information Church name or your name; Address/Postcode; Telephone/Mobile; E-mail address; The number of copies of COCM Link in Chinese or in English; Ways of delivery: paper copy by post or PDF format by e-mail You are welcome to view current and past issues of COCM Link on the website: www.cocm.org.uk
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God called us to serve in Europe, and we are thankful for the ﬁnancial support from individuals and churches around the world over the years. The vast majority of people living in Europe have yet to accept the Gospel, hence we ask humbly for you to work with us. If you are moved to support us ﬁnancially, please get in touch. Donations from UK >By Cheque Cheques made payable to “COCM” may be sent to: COCM, 2 Padstow Avenue, Fishermead, Milton Keynes MK6 2ES >By Bank Transfer or Standing Order Please click "Provision" under "How to Help" column on our website www.cocm.org.uk or get in touch with us for further information. Donations from overseas Please contact Your local COCM ofﬁces / boards or COCM Headquarters (Please see the contact information at the right-hand column on the back page.)