Chinese Saints in Canada
Contributed by members from the Vancouver & Surrey British Columbia Stakes
Yan was born into a comfortable lifestyle in central China. She had two brothers, her father served the community as a doctor – a very prestigious position, and her mother worked as an engineer.
Not long after her birth, Yan’s family moved to the west of China. When she was eight years old, her father died. After this loss of the head of their family, the community showed little respect toward them.
Over the following years, Yan continued her education. In 1994, she had accepted a position as an accountant in southern China. There she found a good friend who wished that her mother would also move to the area and provide childcare. The friend’s mother was a faithful Christian who wanted to find a place to worship before moving. Yan’s friend worked in a government office which prohibited any connection with religion. So the friend enlisted Yan’s help to find a church. Yan found a Christian missionary who located a church for the mother.
After a few weeks, the three women were attending Christian worship services together. There Yan began to have wonderful feelings as she learned of and accepted Jesus Christ and was soon baptized. Yan feels that this was a pivotal decision in her pursuit of religious truth.
In 2004, Yan immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, to find greater freedoms. There she chose “Ivy” as her English name.
Ivy began searching for a church to renew the feelings that she had in her church in China. “After I arrived in Canada, I saw so many different Christian churches. I thought they would all be the same. I couldn’t get the same feelings I had before, so I stopped going to church”, she said.
Two years later, another friend learned that Ivy was very devoted to Jesus Christ but didn’t attend church. The friend introduced her to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Calgary, Alberta. Ivy had good feelings again when she attended the church meetings there. She accepted the missionary lessons and studied the Bible and the Book of Mormon which had not been available to her in China. “As I began attending the Church, I was touched by teachings about Joseph Smith’s prayer, our Prophet Thomas S. Monson taking care of the elderly, and Bishop Alex Chen telling us, ‘Here is our family, and we are family members.’” On 16 March 2013, Ivy was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Like Ivy, many people emigrated from China to Canada and found the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1978, six Chinese members started a Sunday school in the Vancouver First Ward building. That small group evolved into a Chinese branch which moved to Richmond in 1985.
In 1999, President Hinckley decided to create a Chinese ward in the area. “We moved to Burnaby attending the Wah Yan Ward. Many people arriving from China have joined this ward,” recalls Patrick Chan, an early Chinese branch president.
Since then, Chinese saints in Richmond have formed another branch. The number of Chinese Saints is increasing throughout Canada. Bill Zhong, Richmond Chinese Branch President says, “Canada is a free country and will call to people from all over the world.” He explains that more Chinese are joining the Church in Canada now because “we can talk about the gospel in our own language. It’s easier, much easier for us. Also, in China most people have never heard about Jesus. When they move to Canada, they want to learn about Him. They’re ready to receive the gospel, so when they hear it, they accept it. Most of all, they recognize that the gospel as taught in the church is true. The missionaries’ message is powerful. The Spirit converts.”
Bishop Alex Chan of the Wah Yan Ward in Burnaby says that membership has grown during the past three years. “We see quite a few members from China being baptized in the Vancouver area. In our ward, there have been nine baptisms so far this year, all from China. We have many young single adults being baptized. The members help to multiply the missionaries’ efforts by attending the discussions. They help by bearing testimony and by becoming friends, so when an investigator comes to church there is a familiar face. Up to fifty members will attend a baptism on a weekend.”
He encourages the Chinese saints to build their faith through daily scripture study, frequent prayer, regular church attendance, and by keeping their covenants.
Now Chinese missionaries from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China are currently serving in Canada, in addition to missionaries from other countries who learn Chinese and contribute to the Lord’s work. They and local Church members offer truths of the gospel and help bring another form of freedom to the Chinese people of Canada.
Contributors: Ivy, Bishop Alex Chan, Mandy Chan (translation), Branch President Bill Zhong, Wendy Lee (longtime Chinese member), Patrick Chan (1st Richmond Chinese branch president), Miriam (baptism).