MACAU (Mennonite Mission Network/Mennonite Church Canada Witness) — For the first time in its 13-year history, the Macau Mennonite Church has a local leader.
Treasure Chow was ordained at Macau Mennonite Church in a June 7 ceremony attended by mission workers and leaders from Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and North America that included foot-washing and a congregational response. The street outside the church doors was lined with flowers, every seat in the building was full, and people even sat on stools.
With much less fanfare and in a more intimate setting, founding mission workers George and Tobia Veith handed the leadership of the church to Chow and her husband, Bailey, on June 14, fulfilling the goal for career mission workers planting churches—to work themselves out of jobs and hand over the church to national leaders. The ceremony included an anointing for the entire congregation, not just its leaders.
The ordination and leadership transfer was a mark of God’s faithfulness to Macau and the culmination of 13 years of work by George and Tobia Veith, workers with Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Church Canada Witness who helped begin the church in 1996. The Veiths will return to North America in July for a year. Tim and Cindy Buhler, workers with Mission Network and Witness who live on an outlying island of Macau, will support the Chows for their first year of Mennonite church leadership.
For the ordination, Sheldon Sawatzky, retiring director for East Asia with Mennonite Mission Network, was the special speaker and the big hand—the Chinese term for the one who lays on hands for ordination. Other church leaders included the Rev. Titus Liao, a representative of the Fellowship of Mennonite Churches in Taiwan; The Rev. Abraham Yeung, outgoing president of Macau Bible School; and the Rev. Yiu Fan But from Chow’s home church in Hong Kong. Represented in the 90-plus persons in attendance were evangelists from Mennonite sister churches in Hong Kong, former co-workers, pastors and friends from many churches in Macau, and local church members.
Churches and organizations in Macau sent flowers in celebration and support.
During the June 14 handover ceremony, George and Tobia Veith shared pictures and a sermon about their past 13 years in Macau and challenged the church to support their new leaders. As a sign of passing on the authority to lead Macau Mennonite church, the Veiths washed the feet of the Chows. Tim Buhler led the congregation in a litany of thanks to the Veiths for their faithful service and a welcome to the Chows as the congregation’s new shepherds.
Even more significant was Chow’s suggestion to anoint each believer in attendance with oil to signify the kingdom work of the church being handed over to the body of believers, not just to the new leadership. Almost everyone in attendance stood, signifying their desire to be anointed with oil marking their willingness to serve God, serve the community and serve each other in the Macau Mennonite Church. The Chows also prayed over the group of young people who were taking part in the service.
Chow’s story began on the seedy waterfront area of Hong Kong.
“As a young girl I cleaned the rooms of my family’s guest house frequented by prostitutes in the dark area of Yau Ma Tei in Hong Kong,” Chow said.
Though she saw many things beyond her years, seeing her mother’s Christian faith made a lasting impact on her. Because her mother was a Christian and her father was involved with local folk religions, there was spiritual conflict in their home. As an obedient wife, Chow’s mother was made to maintain the family god shelf—an outward act—but she refused to eat anything offered to the gods—an inward act. This made a lasting impression on Chow and planted the seed of faith.
In middle school, Chow attended a Christian school and committed to follow Jesus—an act met with strong opposition from her father. Chow would secretly attend church and the youth group—where she met Bailey—when possible. After her high school graduation, she decided to openly live her faith. She was baptized and she and Bailey later attended a three-year Bible school program, during which they married.
In 1990, five years after they graduated from the Bible program, the Chows moved as missionaries to serve a number of local congregations and work with Industrial Worker Fellowship in Macau. During that service, they had a son, Benson, and Chow graduated from the Macau Bible Institute.
Macau Mennonite has a membership of 20 people with weekly attendance of about 30. Macau leaders requested prayer that God would continue to support Macau Mennonite Church members spreading the gospel of Christ in a gaming community they called “the most unreached Chinese area in the world.”