A prominent Chinese-American pastor and church planter was forced to return to the United States after Hong Kong authorities denied his visa.
In a video message to friends, former megachurch pastor and author Francis Chan revealed the news on Jan. 5, ChinaAid reported.
"Last week, after Hong Kong officials rejected our visas, we (sons-in-law Justin and Peter and I) had to leave the country. We are now back in the U.S. and appealing the decision, however. We want to be in Hong Kong and hopefully, we can return there," the pastor said.
"Before we had to leave Hong Kong, Justin, Peter, and I had seen the Lord plant three churches (house gatherings) with approximately 15-20 people attending each. We had each been leading one church in each of our homes, but then, suddenly we learned that we had to leave the country," he continued.
Chan is concerned if the new church leaders and members can continuously meet in the house churches he had planted in the region. The young workers whom they have worked with and were left to lead the churches said that they are not yet ready.
But the pastor reminded them about New Testament's Apostle Paul who would go to a city, share the gospel for a few weeks and then leave. He also emphasized that the early church during Paul's time did not have resources and Bibles but were able to establish a powerful church by the help and power of the Holy Spirit.
He questioned the church members' feeling of unpreparedness given that some of them have already been Christians for years, equipped with Bibles and have been discipled. He further asked them if they do not have enough faith or information.
Chan strengthened them and told the house church members that he has faith in them.
"I have peace in my heart because I know that the Holy Spirit will be working. Although I believe God is having me go back to the U.S., I think this a great season for you to be pushed and stretched. And so, I'm going to go with the power of the Spirit. We've got this. I've got more sources for equipping than the early church did. I have so many resources online, so much knowledge available. I have the Scriptures right before me, a huge advantage."
The pastor said that he is not sure if the Hong Kong government would allow him to return given that the region is currently under the powerful grip of the Chinese Communist Party.
Chan moved to Hong Kong in February 2020 with his family to plant churches, the Christian Post reported. He said that one of the challenges he had encountered with Hong Kong Christians is the idea of "loving one another." He revealed that the region is so "westernized" and that their family dynamics are "distant" and "weird."
"It's either just a hardcore helicopter parenting that only deals with grades, or it's just totally uninvolved and 'let my servant do this, you know, take care of my kids.' They're good at accomplishing ... but relationships [are] such a foreign thought," he said.
Chan had earlier said that he was struck over Hong Kong people's "climate of fear," the news added.
"I've noticed being in Hong Kong, obviously surrounded by Chinese people, unlike what I was in the U.S., there's a lot of fear, even with those who call themselves Christians. They're really afraid to die. And you need to understand there is seriously something wrong in your life if you don't want to die," the pastor said during the Chinese Mission Convention.
"People are holding on to their lives, so afraid of death. It's like we don't really believe in His promises of something better. That's why Paul says, 'Of course I'd rather depart and be with Him, but there are things I have to do on the earth.' That's the only reason why he would still want to be on the earth...
Chan cited the example of Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21-24, noting that because the apostle was so in love with Jesus Christ that he only wanted to be with the Lord. But he said that this statement like Paul's is "rarely" heard from the Hong Kong people.
"Do you think this way? Do you speak this way?" the pastor asked.
According to The Christian Post's article published in May 2020, Chan was a former megachurch pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in California. He decided to step down in 2010 upon feeling that he became a person he believed God hated, as he flourished into a "celebrity" pastor. He also revealed his "frustrations with the megachurch model."