Alliance News Feed – Homesick for the Holiday
Chinese New Year is China’s biggest family holiday, like Christmas in the United States, and Chinese expatriates tend to feel homesick around this time of year.
That’s why 300–500 Chinese men, women, and children annually gather at Greater Lafayette Chinese Alliance Church (GLCAC) in Indiana to celebrate the new year. Though the guests range in age from infants to seniors, the event ministers uniquely to college students away from their families.
Chinese students and faculty from Purdue University started a Bible study in 1965 focused on reaching their Chinese classmates and colleagues. That Bible study grew into a church and, in 1995, joined The Alliance. Today, the church continues to invite Chinese students and residents to celebrate various holidays with them, but none are more popular than the Chinese New Year.
Many of the guests arrive hours ahead of time to help make thousands of dumplings for the feast. Chinese dumplings are the main delicacy at a new year’s celebration, as they represent fortune or blessing.
The hosts incorporate as many Chinese customs as they can. They hang red lanterns, wear traditional attire, and cook favorite dishes from the provinces represented.
GLCAC even puts on their own version of the televised Lunar New Year celebration in Beijing. The broadcast traditionally involves freedom singing, dancing, cross-talk comedy, and talent show performances. GLCAC’s program includes these elements as well as instrumental music, skits, and a presentation of the gospel.
One guest said, “It makes me feel like I’m back in China for the holiday.”
Though the holiday is associated with ancestor worship, the Chinese students at Purdue do not necessarily hold to those beliefs. Moreover, the celebration provides the church a relevant opportunity to share the gospel and thank Christ for His blessings.
The relationships built on nights like these continue to grow throughout the year. These events have allowed GLCAC to offer comfort and support to lonely students. They have become their neighbors’ home away from home, and many of their new friends have joined the church and put their faith in Christ.
Source: Alliance News Feed – Homesick for the Holiday