Mao

Lingzhen Mao, far right, responds to praise from teacher, Lin Hong, after reciting a poem during beginners Chinese class. Also in the class are Jinen Zhang and Jun Wang. (Herald & Review/Lisa Morrison)

Every day in Decatur, local churches are devising new ministries to reach out to specific groups, including ethnic minorities.

For senior pastor Gerald Coates of Moundford Free Methodist Church, that group was Chinese Christians. Now, thanks to the church’s outreach, a series of public Chinese language classes is being offered in Decatur, taught by natural speakers born in China.

“My wife and I moved here from Indianapolis where he had helped plant a Chinese church, and that made me aware of some of the needs of Chinese Christian congregants in this country,” Coates said. “We started visiting the Chinese restaurants here in Decatur, befriending the workers and having them over to our house during their off-hours. At the church, we’ve tried to create an atmosphere for our Chinese friends to have fun and meet new people.”

Quickly, Moundford Free Methodist became known as “the Chinese ministry” within the local Chinese community. Ministry programs specifically for Chinese audiences began springing up at the church, and new congregants joined in, saying they had been hoping to find such an organization.

“Before I knew it, we had a Mandarin Sunday school group and a Mandarin Bible study,” Coates said. “It’s really new and fascinating for us. This past Sunday, we had a Chinese choir participate in worship. We’re even using electronic headsets in order to offer live translation of the services and sermons into Chinese for the members of our congregation who don’t speak English.”

Dr. Catherine Ming Tu, one of the translators for this service, is a music education instructor at Millikin University, and is also one of four teachers who are running the “Sunrise Chinese School” at Moundford Free Methodist on Sunday afternoons. Students from kindergarten to adult of all backgrounds are welcome to learn the basics of Chinese language. According to Ming Tu, the first lesson in the 10-part series successfully began Feb. 26, and there is still room for more students.

“The class was originally intended for the children of Chinese parents to learn their native tongue, but anyone can learn this beautiful language,” she said. “We had a really great start on Sunday. The kids were all really excited, and they all finished their homework.”

The class is divided up into four groups, based on factors such as experience and age. Anyone from beginners to intermediate students will be able to expand their knowledge of the characters that make up the Chinese language.

“China is a rising country in the world picture, so I expect this language could be useful in business or in a number of other ways,” Ming Tu said. “I don’t think it’s that difficult overall to learn. We want to be able to give the people who take the class a solid foundation in reading and speaking Chinese and achieve their learning goals.”

The program will use a varied approach that includes cards, games and videos to aid in recognition and retention of the language.

“I think it’s a pretty well-rounded program that we have developed,” Ming Tu said. “Moundford Church has a great facility for it, and it has been fun so far.”

Ming Tu, who was born in China, obtained her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in the United States, and said she loves working in the Millikin program. And she was especially excited to find and get involved with a Chinese-specific ministry at Moundford Free Methodist.

“When I first came to Decatur, I couldn’t find any other Chinese Christian groups,” she said. “I started a small Bible study of my own, but then I found Moundford through some Chinese restaurant workers who told me there was a pastor in Decatur who was trying to minister to Chinese Christians. I think the Lord has opened a door for us here. I think it provides a loving home for the growing group of Chinese people in the area.”

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Sunrise Chinese School

WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Moundford Free Methodist Church, 1803 E. Mound Road

TICKETS: $15 per session

RELATED photo gallery: www.herald-review.com

Every day in Decatur, local churches are devising new ministries to reach out to specific groups, including ethnic minorities.

For senior pastor Gerald Coates of Moundford Free Methodist Church, that group was Chinese Christians. Now, thanks to the church’s outreach, a series of public Chinese language classes are being offered in Decatur, all taught by natural speakers born in China.

“My wife and I moved here from Indianapolis where he had helped plant a Chinese church, and that made me aware of some of the needs of Chinese Christian congregants in this country,” Coates said. “We started visiting the Chinese restaurants here in Decatur, befriending the workers and having them over to our house during their off-hours. At the church, we’ve tried to create an atmosphere for our Chinese friends to have fun and meet new people.”

Quickly, Moundford Free Methodist became known as “the Chinese ministry” within the local Chinese community. Ministry programs specifically for Chinese audiences began springing up at the church, and new congregants joined in, saying they had been hoping to find such an organization.

“Before I knew it, we had a Mandarin Sunday school group and a Mandarin Bible study,” Coates said. “It’s really new and fascinating for us. This past Sunday we had a Chinese choir participate in worship. We’re even using electronic headsets in order to offer live translation of the services and sermons into Chinese for the members of our congregation who don’t speak English.”

Dr. Catherine Ming Tu, one of the translators for this service, is a music education instructor at Millikin University, and is also one of four teachers who are running the “Sunrise Chinese School” at Moundford Free Methodist on Sunday afternoons. Students from kindergarten to adult of all backgrounds are welcome to learn the basics of Chinese language. According to Ming Tu, the first lesson in the 10-part series successfully began Feb. 26, and there is still room for more students.

“The class was originally intended for the children of Chinese parents to learn their native tongue, but anyone can learn this beautiful language,” she said. “We had a really great start on Sunday. The kids were all really excited, and they all finished their homework.”

The class is divided up into four groups, based on factors such as experience and age. Anyone from beginners to intermediate students will be able to expand their knowledge of the characters that make up the Chinese language.

“China is a rising country in the world picture, so I expect this language could be useful in business or in a number of other ways,” Ming Tu said. “I don’t think it’s that difficult overall to learn. We want to be able to give the people who take the class a solid foundation in reading and speaking Chinese and achieve their learning goals.”

The program will use a varied approach that includes cards, games and videos to aid in recognition and retention of the language.

“I think it’s a pretty well-rounded program that we have developed,” Ming Tu said. “Moundford Church has a great facility for it, and it has been fun so far.”

Ming Tu, who was born in China, obtained her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in the United States, and said she loves working in the Millikin program. And she was especially excited to find and get involved with a Chinese-specific ministry at Moundford Free Methodist.

“When I first came to Decatur, I couldn’t find any other Chinese Christian groups,” she said. “I started a small Bible study of my own, but then I found Moundford through some Chinese restaurant workers who told me there was a pastor in Decatur who was trying to minister to Chinese Christians. I think the Lord has opened a door for us here. I think it provides a loving home for the growing group of Chinese people in the area.”

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Sunrise Chinese School

WHEN: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Moundford Free Methodist Church, 1803 E. Mound Road

TICKETS: $15 per session

RELATED photo gallery: www.herald-review.com

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