After four months of praying and waiting upon Jesus Christ, a small group of Christians and the present pastoral team gathered together in a retreat at a Niagara Falls hotel during Christmas of the year 1999. Through attending different local churches at that point of time, they came to affirm the same Spirit-led conviction that they were called to start a new Christian church of their own in Toronto.

Why did the group want a new church? They were inspired toward a church vision that the body of Christ was living under the lordship and heart of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. This new church of God was aimed to follow, model after, and preach Christ Jesus until His return. The chosen name, Good Shepherd’s Chinese Christian Church, reflected very much their Spirit-led core values. The vision of the GSCCC directed her pilgrimage journey towards a specific Christian spirituality, that the church should love the Lord Jesus with all her mind, heart, and spirit in wholeness.

The blessing of Christ Jesus enabled quick government approval of the initial church registration on February 21, 2000, and of charitable status with Revenue Canada on July 1 of the same year. Captain Owen Budden of Markham Salvation Army, whom the church met for the first time and who later became a very good friend, accommodated graciously the newly formed GSCCC. Thus, the GSCCC started their church office and Sunday worships in the facilities of the Markham Salvation Army Church at 9329 McCowan Road, Markham. On January 16, 2000, the GSCCC started their first pre-inauguration Sunday worship with little human and financial resources.

As an important part of the church vision on wholistic Christian spirituality, right at the beginning of journey, the GSCCC articulated practically disciplines of abstinence(1) in the life of the church. These included solitude, silence, Centering prayers, group retreats, group Lectio Divina, church Taize prayer meetings, Bible contemplation, and so forth. They were blended with the GSCCC’s Word ministry of conventional Bible-oriented lay trainings, small group Bible studies, pulpit teachings, topical workshops, and other cognitive formations of the Bible. In such a holistic formative approach, the church helped to shape the passion of loving God and neighbors.

The early stages of the GSCCC, as common with church growth, were enthusiastic but also bumpy. By the grace of Jesus, the church had ridden through numerous hills and valleys in the journey. The real life phenomenon re-confirmed the church to continue the pursuit of renewing the wholeness of spiritual formation in the life of the church. Significantly, in late 2005, the GSCCC had shifted into a new paradigm of holistic spiritual formation. In all church trainings, the GSCCC integrated the unique components of spiritual direction and pastoral counseling to blend with cognitive Word formation. Heading towards the vision of a refined holistic Christian spirituality, the GSCCC started to grow in numbers, finance, and fruits of life in Christ. The church made progress to move upward and outward. The GSCCC initiated support to full-time missionaries, sponsored needy groups and individuals in basic living and education, served various community services, connected to a wider church circle, and affiliated with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

During the global economic tsunami of late 2008, the GSCCC, like others in the Greater Toronto Area community, faced economic meltdowns, unemployment, business close downs, and various financial shrinks. In the midst of the global and local economic turmoil, God made what was humanly impossible possible in the eyes of the whole church. In Christ’s graceful providence, the GSCCC amazingly was guided to miraculously purchase the present church premise at 7 Gretna Avenue, North York. For the sacrificial love to Christ Jesus and commitment with one another, the GSCCC was blessed by God with a nice permanent church premise that would allow further growth and expansion in the years to come.

In the dedication service of the new church premise on March 22, 2009, the now late Dr. Donald Leggett, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Tyndale Seminary, a long-time best friend of the church, exhorted the church according to Haggai 1 and Acts 2. In the presence of many church friends, Christian leaders, and pastors of other churches and ministry organizations, he encouraged the GSCCC to grow in faithfulness with God, who had nourished and cherished the church since it was a little child in the wilderness.

May the Lord Jesus always help us to remember His almightiness and loving kindness shown in our past journey! The Good Shepherd will surely continue to grant His loving presence, raise new challenges, and plot grateful surprises in our future journey. Shall we continue to grow in faith and love to our beloved God who had redeemed us and called us to the unfinished task of the Gospel in the pilgrimage with Him. Amen in the name of our Good Shepherd, Christ Jesus.

(Written April 2010)

 

(1) Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines (New York: Harper Collins, 1991), 158.