Shanghai Community Fellowship reaches out to the estimated 500,000 expatriates in China
In a country known for stifling its underground church movement, a nondenominational charismatic ministry in China is thriving above ground and drawing dozens to Christ.

Christians in China say the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully among the more than 500,000 foreign expatriates, also called expats, working in Shanghai. English services in the ivy-covered Gothic-style Shanghai Community Church (SCC) are bursting at the seams with 1,500 worshipers from 53 countries.

"It's a slice of heaven," said Karen Pierce, an aerospace engineer from Minnesota who lives in Shanghai with her husband.

"Every Sunday we experience the miracle of God," said John Chin, a church elder from Canada.

The nondenominational, charismatic Shanghai Community Fellowship (SCF) blossomed out of two small groups of foreign passport holders meeting at the Shanghai Hilton and Ritz-Carlton hotels. It jelled in 1996 when the Chinese government stepped in, warning believers that they were gathering illegally. Through what church leaders consider a miracle, the Christians gained permission to worship in the state-sanctioned SCC.

Built in 1925 for Americans, the church operated until the 1940s and closed for a time after communist leadership took control of China in 1949. Chinese Christians also worship there, but in separate services.

Although no provision exists yet for foreigners to register legally as a church, SCF operates under the auspices of the officially approved Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches of China. The Chinese government bans denominations and recognizes only five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and Taoism.

SCF is a lay-led ministry directed by seven elders from denominational backgrounds. The group operates an annual budget of about $500,000 and recently adopted a formal charter. It has distributed more than 1 million Bibles and pays medical expenses for orphans.

Shanghai is a rapidly expanding boomtown of 20 million people gorging on the fruits of China's new economic power and affluence. Since 2003 SCF attendance has swelled from the rising influx of foreign workers. Standing-room-only crowds led to a second worship service in 2004.

The congregation is a multiethnic mix of expat believers and seekers from North America, Taiwan, Macau, Europe, Africa and Australia. Some raise their hands and speak in tongues during worship. Others stand quietly with eyes closed.

"There is no one way of worshiping God," Pierce said. "There's dancing in the aisles, liturgy and Spirit-led charismatic worship—without condemnation. All of the petty stuff fades away."

"Although we are so different, the Holy Spirit has kneaded us together like a blanket with different colors," said Mexico-native Jorge Solorzano, a plant manager with a U.S.-based auto parts firm.

"We learn to live with each other," said Maxim Beti, a student from Cameroon. "We have the same aim in Jesus Christ."

Although overt proselytizing is forbidden in China, people are won to Christ through one-on-one evangelism. Friends invited Constanza Leon, who is from Mexico City, to a church-sponsored Alpha course, which is an evangelism outreach. She became a born-again Christian after a few weeks, and she said her new faith helped her get through a serious personal problem. "It was Jesus in my life," she said. "He changed my character."

Observers say seeds of revival among Shanghai's expat community are starting to bloom—even under China's communist regime. Said Chin: "God is working something impossible."
Peter K. Johnson in Shanghai, China

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Foot washing

    Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel

    "When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit