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September - October 2000 The Sabbath Sentinel

     The  Sabbath  Sentinel    

    interviews Paul  Wong 

 

 

This interview and the preceding article are the first of several articles that will be printed in The Sabbath Sentinel.

We at the Bible Sabbath Association appreciate the work that Pastor Wong has done through ARK International. It is our happy task to extend the right hand of fellowship to Pastor Wong and the rest of the brethren of the True Jesus Church.

 

We are interested in the "Sabbath Roots" of the Chinese people. Can you tell us something about them?

 

The Sabbath roots of the Chinese people go back to the time of Noah and the Great Flood. Many Chinese Christians believe - and their ministers teach - that the Chinese race descended from Shem. In the Genesis account the children of Shem went eastwards after the flood (Gen. 10:30-32).

There are descriptions of the Great Flood in Chinese legends. In the Chinese language the word for "ship" ("Juan") is composed of three characters. The main character, "Jou," means a floating vessel or boat. (In the Chinese Bible, Noah's ark is translated as "Fang-Jou," meaning "rectangular boat.") The other two characters that make up the word for ship are "eight" and "mouths". Chinese use "mouths" to signify people.

This word "Juan" indicates that the Chinese knew there were eight people in a floating vessel that survived the Great Flood (1 Peter 3:20). They must have heard about it from the descendents of Shem, their ancestor.

When we read the Genesis account of Noah and the Great Flood we can see the recurrence of the seven-day cycle. Noah must have kept a calendar with the seven-day weekly cycle. God told Noah, "For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth." (Gen. 7:4, 10). "And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark." (Gen. 8:10, 12).

Although the Bible did not mention it, is likely that Noah observed the Seventh Day Sabbath that was passed on to him by his ancestors, who had learned it from Adam (Gen. 2:1-3). If keeping the seventh day Sabbath is one of God's commandments then Noah would surely have observed it. Why? Because "Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him." (Gen. 7:5). When the children of Shem journeyed eastward and settled in China they would have had the knowledge of the Seventh Day Sabbath that had been forgotten over the centuries.

 

How far back in history does your research show the Sabbath to be in China?

My research indicates that the Jews had reintroduced the Seventh Day Sabbath to China."The Jewish Diaspora had dispersed to Asia before the Christian era bringing with it the Seventh Day Sabbath observance, Sabbath-keeping, the original position of the Church, had spread west into Europe and from Palestine, it spread east into India and then to China." (Mingana - Early Spread of Christianity, Vol. 10, page. 460).


Is there anything in Chinese history that reveals anything about the Chinese having a seven day week? (Traditionally the Chinese have used a 10 day week until modern times.)

The ancient Chinese calendar is based on the sexagesimal (60) cycle. It is a combination of the 10 "heavenly stems" and 12 "earthly branches." This cycle was used for keeping track of days. The seven-day weekly cycle together with the Seventh-Day Sabbath was introduced to China by the Jewish Diaspora before the Christian era.

Later, the Roman Catholics came and continued the use of the seven-day weekly cycle, but they worshipped on Sunday instead of the Sabbath. Missionaries from the Anglican and other Protestant churches came to China and fortified the seven-day weekly cycle, thus perpetuating its use until today.

Do you have any information on the "Jesus people" who supposedly reside in one of the provinces and reportedly are over one million strong?

You are probably referring to the "Jesus Family" (Yesu Jiading); it is one of the three strongest indigenous Christian groups that have gone underground in China. The other two are the True Jesus Church and the Little Flock. It is estimated that these three groups have a combined membership of over thirty million underground members in China. Of these three groups only the True Jesus Church keeps the Seventh Day Sabbath.


Do you know whether or not these are the results of gentile conversion to the Sabbath or whether they are the descendants of Jews who came to China?

In my article, "The Seventh Day Sabbath Movement in China," there are indications the Sabbath truth came to China long before any foreign missions arrived. The first Christian group to reintroduce the Seventh-Day Sabbath to China was the Seventh Day (Adventist or Baptist) Church, which came in 1896 - but, due to the fact that they were foreign missionaries, their impact was very small. It was not until the indigenous True Jesus Church was established in 1917 that the Sabbath Movement expanded and spread throughout China.

Jewish merchants, probably from Persia, had traveled the Silk Road and arrived in China as early as 960 C.E. during the Song Dynasty. In 1163 A.D., they had constructed a synagogue in Kaifeng, one of the three largest cities in China at that time. The Jewish community (Hebrew- kehillah ) of Kaifeng had between one to two thousand members.

"The religious outlooks and practices of the Kaifeng Jews were for centuries very much like those of their fellow Jews outside China. They observed the Sabbath and the other holy days, circumcised their male offspring, maintained schools that taught the language and scriptural texts of their ancestors, and ordered their lives within the moral and doctrinal parameters set forth in the traditional rabbinic literature. They recognized the One God as eternal and without physical form, and believed that the individual is judged in the hereafter, as well as in the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels. Idolatry was anathema to them. They accepted full responsibility for helping the poor and those incapable of taking care of themselves. They prayed facing westward, in the direction of Jerusalem." - "The Jews of Kaifeng" by Michael Pollack. Web site:
http://www.sino-judaic.org .



Are there any records, traditions or other indications of missionaries coming to China before Francis Xavier? If you have any information in any of these areas, it would be of interest to other Sabbatarians to read them.


According to the historical records of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis Xavier never set a foot in China. In 1549 he set out for Japan and died on December 3rd, 1552, on a lonely island, vainly seeking to obtain entrance into China. I have written several articles with titles such as "Seventh Day Sabbath Movement in China", "House Churches in China", and "Victorious Sabbath Keepers in China." Readers of The Sabbath Sentinel will find these articles interesting and informative.

Please make a statement to our readership concerning your Sabbath convictions and the importance of the Chinese witness to the Sabbath truth.

There are 1.3 billion Chinese in the whole world. Assuming there are 50 million Chinese Christians and 5 million of them are Sabbath keepers; it means only 1 out of every 260 Chinese knows the Lord Jesus Christ and keeps the Sabbath. That is a tiny fraction of one percent and a overwhelming 99.6 percent of Chinese that do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and the Sabbath truth. With five generations of family members in the True Jesus Church, a Seventh-Day Sabbath keeping denomination, I do have a mission and conviction to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to share the Sabbath truth to the Chinese, as well as to all the nations in the world.

In the mid Seventies our family lived in Bakersfield, California. Since we did not have a True Jesus Church in that city we had to drive to Los Angeles to attend Sabbath services. After a while we made friends with our neighbors and invited them to our family services.

As more and more American Christian friends came to our Sabbath Services, we had a House of Prayer in our home. The Lord Jesus Christ brought Christians from various denominations to worship with us on the Sabbath day. There were Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and even Messianic Jews.

Our family enjoyed the fellowship of all these Christians and the Lord really blessed our Sabbath Services. During one Sabbath service a pair of twin sisters who were Catholics requested prayer for their brother in Chicago who was mysteriously paralyzed from the neck downwards.

The doctors could not diagnose his illness and they had placed him in the Intensive Care Unit. We prayed in one accord for this man who was thousands of miles away, not even knowing him. That Sabbath afternoon, at about 5:00 p.m., one of the twin sisters called me. She was really excited and told me that her brother had just called her from his home. He could not understand how suddenly at about 11:30 a.m. in the morning he was able to move his arms, legs and whole body. It was the exact time that we prayed for him during our Sabbath Services.

He got out of bed and went to the nurses' station and asked to be discharged from the hospital. The nurses were shocked and called the doctor to examine him. The doctor was perplexed and found nothing wrong with him. The hospital discharged him at 1:00 p.m. He returned home and mowed the lawn in his front yard at 3:00 p.m. This healing miracle changed my attitude towards Christians of other denominations. Our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that, regardless of denomination, when Christians love one another, worship, and pray in one accord on the Sabbath day, He will honor their prayers. This healing miracle is a fulfillment of Scriptures. "Also the sons of foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him and to love the Name of the LORD, to be His servants - everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant - even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My House of Prayer, Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel says, 'Yet I will gather to Him others besides those who are gathered to Him.'" (Isaiah 56:6-8).

While our family still lived in Bakersfield, I wanted to start an architectural service company. I prayed and asked the Lord to give me a good name for the company. In California, the Chinese community call the architect an "arky". Since I had a British architectural professional degree and I intended to practice internationally, I registered the name "ARK International."

My American Christian friends looked at my business card and said, "That's a good name for a Christian ministry." It is now both my Christian ministry and also my architectural service company. ARK International is now a Texas corporation. In Houston, Texas, my company works in association with another architectural firm and an engineering firm. Both principals of these firms are Christians. Together we have built a large church auditorium with 8,000 seats and several other large projects for churches of various denominations. God has blessed our work.

Sabbath-keepers working in the secular world constantly face obstacles in the market place but they can overcome their problems with faith and endurance. I have two testimonies that are connected with my profession, and also the Seventh-Day Sabbath.

After receiving my academic and professional degrees in architecture in London, England, I returned to Ipoh, Malaysia, to seek employment. In Malaysia and many other Asian countries the commercial offices are open on Saturday mornings.

I had made up my mind not to work on the Sabbath, therefore I could not find a job for many months. After much prayer God opened a door for me. I met an ex-classmate who was also an architect; he was getting married and planned to move to another city.

He introduced me to his boss, a Danish architect who had the most successful practice in the city. During the interview I told him that I could not work on Saturday because I kept the Sabbath. I gave him a proposal to make up the 4 hours on Saturday by working an extra hour Monday through Thursday. Praise God! He agreed.

After three months he called me into his office. He said to me, "I have reviewed your work and I am very pleased with it. Your productivity is much more than your friend's. I am going to promote you and raise your salary. Not only that, I am going to close my office on Saturday because you have shown me that it is a much better way for productivity." I was very glad that my faithful Sabbath-keeping had not only given me much blessings but had also been a good testimony to others as well.

After working with the Danish architect for two years I opened my own architectural firm that was the only company in the city that closed on Saturdays. The business flourished tremendously. I had several close friends who were my engineering associates.

One Friday afternoon my good friend and engineering associate called me. He said a potential client who was a multimillionaire real estate magnate was coming from out of state. We were going to have lunch with him the following day and discuss the development of a 2,000 acre multimillion dollar project. It was an architect's dream project.

I told him that I could not join him for lunch because I had to keep the Sabbath. My friend was really mad at me. He called me all kinds of names.

I apologized to him but it didn't help. I thought our friendship and business relationship had been smashed to bits. I felt very sad and I went to church to worship and pray.

That Saturday evening my friend called me at about 9:00 p.m. He said the real estate multimillionaire could not come because there was a change of plans due to unforeseen circumstances. He would arrive on Monday. I told my friend, "I'll be there!"

We got the project signed, sealed and delivered. The whole project is now completed. Praise and thank the Lord Jesus Christ who is in control. He blesses those who are faithful to Him. Praise God! He has given me a "tent-making ministry" that has helped and encouraged many Christians to remain faithful to the Lord of the Sabbath and also to keep it holy.

"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, The mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isa. 58:13-14).

 

 

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