At the age of 18, I was earnestly seeking for meaning in life. My heart was empty and desperate for meaningful existence. A classmate gave me a gospel tract one day after class. I read it that night and John 10:10 caught my attention. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The next day I prayed to receive Christ with my classmate. Through weekly Bible studies, God opened my eyes to see I was indeed a sinner and in His amazing grace and love, He sent His Son to redeem me from all my sins and also gave me a full and meaningful life. My heart was filled with joy and a peace I had never experienced before. I began to share this joy with my neighbors and family members. Soon I was having Bible studies and helping other new believers to grow in their faith. The joy of having meaning and purpose in life and seeing others changed by the gospel led me to give my life to serve God in the ministry.
After 4 years of theological studies at Singapore Bible College, Lily and I got married and in that same year went to Liberia, Africa in 1987 to assist a couple who planted a church in Monrovia. It was one of the most challenging ministries we have ever undertaken. I almost died of Malaria. Only by God’s grace and through the prayers of many, I got healed but from then on, my health was never the same.
After 21/2 years, civil war erupted in Liberia and sadly we had to evacuate and return to Singapore. Thank God that the church we planted in Liberia is still existing today. One of the leaders we trained became the pastor after the civil war.
For the next 12 years, I served as one of the associate pastors in my home church in Singapore. It was during this time my home church gave us a sabbatical and I was able to complete my MDiv in 2 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS).
After years of pastoral ministry, there was a sense that I wasn’t able to connect with non-Christians and share the gospel with them as much as I would like to. We embarked on a faith journey to the US for my wife to complete her PhD program at TEDS and I explore the possibility of reaching out to the Chinese intellectuals.
Since the time I read Hudson Taylor’s biography, God’s Man in China, God has laid a burden upon my heart to intentionally reach the Chinese intellectuals, who will be the movers and shakers of this huge nation in desperate need of God.
With this burden, I began to take the first step of learning Mandarin on my own using an English-Chinese dictionary with Pinyin pronunciation. Next, I made 4 trips into China, through a Christian mission organization, to see first-hand the needs as well as to affirm my calling. Later, I joined a Bible Study for Chinese students at the Northwestern University (Chicago). It was there that I had the first experience of leading a Chinese intellectual to Christ through the study in the Book of Romans. Joyce was the associate professor at the National Louis University. She would travel to Northwestern to join a group of students to understand more of the Bible. It was there that she gave her life to Jesus!
Another significant experience I had with the Chinese intellectuals was in my ministry at the University of Illinois. By divine appointment, I met Murray who had many questions about the Bible. He was sincere in trying to make sense of the Bible. We would spend hours discussing the Bible and answering all his hard questions. Eventually the truth of God’s love strongly convicted him and he accepted Christ and was baptized. Today, Murray is serving as one of the deacons of Moody Bible Church in Chicago!
In January 2015, God opened a door for me to pioneer a university outreach to the Chinese students at the University of Southern California, under the auspices of the Ambassadors For Christ (AFC) in partnership with Chinese Evangelical Free Church (CEFC).
The University of Southern California has one of the largest populations of Chinese students in North American universities; and it has some of the brightest students on campus each year - over 5000 Chinese students/scholars (from undergrads to the PhD scholars). The Chinese students presently participating in our weekly fellowship meeting or Investigative Bible Study groups are from all the major faculties. Most of them had not held a Bible in their hands or stepped into a church!
Our compelling vision is to establish trusting relationships, share the life-changing gospel with the Chinese scholars/students and disciple them to be fruitful Christians, witnessing for Christ wherever God may call them to after their graduation. Presently, there are 15-30 people attending the weekly Friday fellowship (Amazing Grace Fellowship), another 16 students are involved in Investigative Bible Studies and an average of 10 are them attending CEFC.
Every summer, we pick up about 60 students/scholars from LAX and help them get settled into their apartments. A group of Asian American young adults from my church host a weekly Conversational English Class for the students/scholars. Each month, we take these students for an outing. The average attendance for each of these outings is about 50. If you feel led to participate in this vision, please email me or channel your support through Ambassadors for Christ, Inc.
Together for Chinese Intellectuals!
Caleb Tan email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful….”