“If my calling is to go fish, why wouldn’t I go?”: Popular author and pastor Francis Chan moving to Hong Kong
Salt&Light // November 8, 2019, 1:13 pm
Renowned Bible teacher Francis Chan is moving to Hong Kong with his family in February to work with the "ultra poor". Still taken from a video by Crazy Love Ministries.
Best-selling author and Bible teacher Francis Chan is moving in February with his family from the US to Hong Kong, and not Myanmar as reported in some media. He announced the move on his ministry website yesterday, adding that his two sons-in-law will also join them, joking that his family feels “like a small army”.
He plans to work with the “ultra poor” in Asia — those living off less than 70 cents a day — to “bring relief, share the gospel and plant churches among them”.
“When I compare that opportunity to things I currently do in the States, the Kingdom profit seems much greater overseas at this point of my life. While I think I will occasionally minister in the US, I plan on being based in Asia for this next season of life,” he continued.
Francis, 52, whose mother died while giving birth to him, was brought up by his grandmother in Hong Kong until he moved to California when he was 5.
A new pond
It was a trip to Myanmar in July with Lisa and four of his youngest children that prompted this move.
“I went from hut to hut with a translator, sharing the Gospel with people who had never heard about Jesus. The more I shared the Gospel, the more alive I felt. It’s a completely different experience sharing with those who have never heard versus sharing with those who have already chosen to reject Jesus over and over,” wrote the Crazy Love author on the website.
“The more I shared my testimony coupled with the Gospel message with these unreached people, the more I thought about how I wanted to do this with the remainder of my life. When I considered the need and opportunity, I knew I wanted to be based in Asia.”
During a chapel sermon at Azusa Pacific University where he also announced his move to Asia, Francis used a reference to how Christians are called to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19) to describe his decision: “I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life and now there are thousands of other fishermen at the same pond.
“The more I shared the Gospel, the more alive I felt.”
“And our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!’ And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?
“What if I heard of a lake that’s a five-mile hike away, and no one’s fishing it. And they’re saying, ‘Man, the fish are biting — just throw a hook in there and they’ll go for it!’ Man, I’ll make that five-mile hike if I love fishing,” he continued, in his trademark passionate preaching.
“What would keep me at that same pond? I’ll tell you what would keep me at the pond is I built a house on the pond, and all my friends have houses on the pond. And we don’t even fish that much, we just go out, and we hang out, and we talk, and we play, and I don’t want to leave my friends.
“But if my calling is to go fish, and there’s no one fishing over there, why wouldn’t I go?”
Up and go
Francis is no stranger to bold moves. In 2010, uncomfortable with his level of fame, he left Cornerstone Church in California, a thriving megachurch that grew from 30 to 6,000 in the 15 years since he planted it.
It was then he came to Asia for a few months with his family, where they spent time with the underground Church, the persecuted Church in India and orphans in Thailand. While in Hong Kong, both Francis and Lisa felt that God was calling them to move there.
“We were really enjoying our dependence on God in unfamiliar, uncomfortable places.”
At that time they had no desire to return to the US. “It’s not that we didn’t love living in the US, but we were really enjoying our dependence on God in unfamiliar, uncomfortable places,” he explained.
It was while they were searching for an apartment and school in Hong Kong that Francis felt God wanted him back in the US then. He returned to California and started a church-planting network called We Are Church in 2013, where every church is made up of 10 to 20 people and meets in someone’s home.
After ministering in the US for more than 20 years, he is now moving back to the city that he knew as a child, which coincidentally has now become the most expensive city in the world to live in. Hong Kong will be a base for the family as they explore opportunities in the region.
However, Myanmar, with its 56 million people of which 6.2% are Christian, has clearly captured Francis’ heart.
On the last day of his trip that set off his decision to move to Asia, he told a group of local pastors at a seminar in Yangon: “I’m very sad to be leaving tomorrow, I’m even praying, ‘Lord are you sure you want me to leave?’
“We always want to be open to whatever God calls us to do.”
“I told my family on the first day we arrived that we may not go home. We always want to be open to whatever God calls us to do.”
Appealing for Christian unity in the Church, he said: “If we want to see the Spirit of God, if we want to see His glory fall on this Temple, we just need to see ourselves as one bloc.
“I’m just a little Chinese block, coming from America, saying I just want to attach to something bigger than me because I’m tired of being independent and I don’t want a name for myself.”
Keenly aware that they need to be led by God as they prepare for their move to Asia, he ended his update with: “I have no idea how long I will stay in Hong Kong. We will just try to discern the Spirit’s leading daily.”
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