A Beautiful Thing
The legend has it that Elder Dr. Ott was the first to receive a vision at an elders’ prayer meeting (it seems like those elders and pastors spent a lot of time at prayer meetings): to establish a daughter church in Oakland for the students and scholars to meet and worship. At the time, Campus Fellowship had been meeting at the current First Baptist Church on Friday nights for over twenty years, but there was no Chinese worship service. On Sundays, everyone had to go to the North to attend Sunday worship. There weren’t many cars among the students, thus transportation was a problem, only a few students and scholars were able to worship on Sundays. Most of the Sunday worshippers were working families. Consequently, the church leadership had the vision to start a Sunday worship service in Oakland.
The entire church was motivated as a result of this vision. First, we had an all-night prayer meeting to seek God’s will, to see whether this was the right step to take. Starting from around 10:00 pm at night, prayer meeting lasted until 5:00 -6:00 am the next dawn. When I arrived at church, I was so shocked to see there were so many people at church! The entire downstairs dinning hall was full of people! Many of the people there did not live in Oakland, and there were also many from the English congregation. I also saw brother Yew Kee Ho had brought his entire family; including his young son, about two to three years old, who was sleeping soundly in his little sleeping bag as his parents focused all their heart on prayer. I was just a new Christian then, but I was very touched by what I saw. After the all night prayer meeting, Pastor Joseph Cheng declared that the church had unanimously decided it was right to establish a daughter church in Oakland. As a new Christian, the leadership’s example of seeing the vision from God and using prayer to seek God’s will left a deep impression on me.
Shortly afterwards, on a Sunday afternoon, brother Yew Kee divided the Oakland map into small blocks and assigned people into groups of two to three into each block, so they can go from door to door to give out flyers and invite anyone who could speak or understand Chinese to attend Sunday worship. Many brothers and sisters attended, including ones who were not from Oakland and lived in the suburbs. At the beginning, the worship service was held in the first-floor library, with no Sunday school, dinner immediately followed. At the first meeting, there were already many people who filled most of the spaces in the library. At the time, Pastor Cheng challenged the co-workers, brothers and sisters who attended the Oakland service to continue worshipping and serving in the mother church. As a new believer, I was so touched by all the co-workers, brothers and sisters who served in the mother church in the morning, and then attend worship service in the Oakland in the afternoon. Aside from the co-workers who served in Oakland, there were also many brothers and sisters from mother church who faithfully attended Oakland service so there will be enough believers in the new congregation. Whether they preached or not, the two pastors (Pastor Joseph Cheng and Pastor Bucknell) were in Oakland every week. After Pastor Joseph Cheng left, Pastor Caleb Chang also went to Oakland every week. As a new believer, I was deeply moved by the brothers and sisters from our mother church who unselfishly gave themselves to a new church that they cannot enjoy themselves.
In the North mother church, we had Sunday lunch after every morning service. The lunch was provided by each fellowship taking turns cooking, and everyone had to pay for the meal. The Oakland worship service was evangelistic in nature at the beginning, we didn’t have many fellowships, so the church leadership decided to order dinner from a restaurant and provide it for free. Everyone knows restaurant food is costly and the expense is difficult for a church to shoulder. At the time, our brother David Yum, who was a successful restaurateur that lived in the Northern suburbs, was willing to provide dinner for Sunday services at a minimal cost. The money he took from the church was not nearly enough for his expenses, but he was willing to sacrifice for the Lord in this fashion. After so many years, he continues to faithful serve even after PCCO has become independent. Whenever we have special events and have more than the usual number of people, he would add food but never asked for extra payment.
In September of that year (1995), Oakland Service added Sunday school and became an official daughter church. But at the beginning, most of the people in the congregation were students and visiting scholars, also most were seekers, thus the offering was usually very meager. For many years, the mother church in the North fully supported Oakland church’s finances, until the Lord brought more believers to Oakland church and the financial situation stabilized. Even after PCCO became independent, this time when we raised building fund, the brothers and sisters from the North mother church again contributed more than $20,000 to the building fund even though they themselves were in financial need.
At PCCO, several co-workers families made great sacrifices: Elder Dr. & Mrs. Leaf Huang, Elder Dr. & Mrs. John Shen, Terrence & Mickey Liu, Anthony & Alice Lee, Yew Kee and Huey Huey Ho and their families selflessly gave themselves to church, brothers & sisters, and seeker friends. Their whole-hearted giving touched the hearts of many.
Today, with the Lord’s blessing, PCCO has both Chinese and English worship services, many have come to know Christ, many willingly serve, and we are even able to have our own building. All these accomplishments were not done by one or two people, but done by many brothers and sisters who were obedient to the Lord’s calling and gave themselves to God. PCCO is built on the foundation of Campus Fellowship which has a twenty to thirty year history. Through all these years, First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh has allowed Campus Fellowship to meet in their building and charged nearly no rent or very little rent. The beginning of PCCO’s worship was due to the church leaderships seeing God’s vision and being obedient to God’s leading. The establishment of PCCO was due to the faithful sacrifices of many co-workers, selfless giving of many brothers and sisters who are no longer in Oakland, whole-hearted service from Brother Yum who provided food, along with financial and other support from our mother church in the North. These are what I saw as a new believer; hence I believe there was much more that I did not take notice.
When the woman broke the alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head at Simon’s house, Jesus praised her and said “She has done a beautiful thing” (Matthew 14:6). From when I first believed, I saw PCCO’s founding, growth, building purchase, and the selfless sacrifices of many leaders, co-workers, and brothers and sisters who never counted the cost; this is indeed a beautiful thing. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in Unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessings, even life forevermore.“ (Psalm 133) It is so good and pleasant that the North mother church and Oakland daughter church can live together in unity! As we praise the Lord and celebrate PCCO’s tenth year anniversary, I pray that the Lord will have mercy on us, protect our church and all the brothers and sisters; so that no matter how many years have passed, how many daughter churches we have established, all God’s children will be able to live in unity, selflessly sacrifice for the Lord, forever giving glory to the Lord. It will be such a beautiful thing!
By Yijen Wu
Extracted from the PCCO 10th Anniversary History Book