Findlay’s Chinese residents find fellowship, friends and faith at Findlay First Church of the Nazarene. Pastor Ronglan Huang started a Chinese outreach ministry at the church in 2013 that continues to grow and bear fruit. Born and raised in China, Ronglan practiced law in China before she was called to the ministry. She lived and studied in Kenya and the Philippines before coming to Findlay to earn her doctor of ministry at Winebrenner Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Yi Rao, have two daughters: Yana, 7, and Ivy, 3.
Creating a social circle
Findlay is home for approximately 40 Chinese families and more than 100 Chinese students at the University of Findlay. Ronglan has created a “social circle” that provides an opportunity to connect everyone Chinese descent in the Findlay area. “When you live in a foreign land, it can be lonely and hard to find your identity,” she said. “We connect people with others who have similar backgrounds and experiences. . . by providing opportunities for fellowship.”
Time for fellowship
The Findlay First Church of the Nazarene hosts a variety of activities for Chinese residents, including weekly Bible study groups for Chinese students and adults. One Sunday a month, the church hosts a Chinese service followed by a dinner. Every winter the church also throws a party to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The party grows bigger every year, said Ronglan, and features traditional Chinese food and entertainment.
Breaking down barriers
When Ronglan started the Chinese ministry in Findlay, she knew that she would need to break down barriers between cultures. Many church members had limited to no experience interacting with people who hailed from backgrounds other than Findlay or Northwest Ohio. She found ways to introduce and pair church members with Chinese residents— Christmas caroling, hospital visits, English tutoring classes, game nights and party planning. As she witnessed people opening up and becoming more comfortable, she was delighted to see relationships start to blossom, even between elderly churchgoers and young Chinese students.
“You don’t need a chapel to be a missionary, just your own backyard,” she said. “You need a heart that is open and eyes that are open and a willingness to leave your comfort zone.”
Ronglan’s ultimate goal is to help her Chinese friends discover the Christian faith. However, the church doesn’t pressure anyone. It’s fine if you are a seeker, and it’s fine if you are only interested in fellowship, she said. “Growing up in China, there was limited to no information about God or Christianity,” she explained. “I didn’t discover my faith until I was in college.”
In the past four years, 10 Chinese students have been baptized in the church. Ronglan said she is happy when Chinese residents learn about themselves and find friends and a support group in Findlay. It makes her even happier when they discover a larger Christian family that they can be part of no matter where they end up.
Join The Findlay First Church of the Nazarene’s Chinese New Year Celebration, 5:30pm Sunday, February 18. For more information about the church’s Chinese and International ministry, visit findlayfirstnaz.org or call 419-422-8660.