Central Baptist Church, located in Sydney’s CBD, is the earliest Baptist Church established in NSW. It has a rich history of multicultural ministry, holding Cantonese, Mandarin and English Worship Services each week, plus an International Service and Thai Fellowship.
On 30 April 2023 they held a Baptism Service, which was a celebration of diversity, faith and unity. Here are couple of the stories of faith from their Cantonese congregation.
Ann is in her late twenties and has experienced many health struggles over her life. At nineteen Ann was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have her thyroid glands removed, leaving her dependent on daily supplements to keep her alive. Ann has also suffered from depression for over ten years.
Ann had been living and working in China but came to Australia in late 2019 for further studies. But when COVID hit in 2020 she became isolated in Australia with no friends or family and her depression became worse. By 2021 she couldn’t go on any more. She was stuck in bed, unable to eat or drink and scared to tell her family what was going on because she didn’t want to add to their stress.
“I was like the walking dead,” reflects Ann.
Ann knew deep inside that there had to be something more to life. She began researching online but couldn’t find anything that helped. Ann recalls having a distinct feeling that there was something out there that would bring her life back, and this motivated her to keep searching.
One day, Ann was reading an online article written by a Christian about love. Ann had never heard of Jesus, but the article said that he had died for other people, which she found unbelievable.
Ann wanted to learn more.
She got a Bible and started reading it for herself. She realised this was what she was looking for. Reading the Gospel of John, she read about how Jesus was the Good Shepherd, and God showed her that she was the lost sheep that Jesus had sought and found. Then, reading about the women struck with bleeding, she was amazed that Jesus had called this woman “daughter”. Ann heard a voice in her head calling her, “daughter, rise”. And Ann got up and made a simple meal, the first meal she’d eaten in a very long time.
But Ann was still isolated and nervous to meet people. One Sunday in late-2022 she was walking past Central Baptist Church and God encouraged her to walk in. She was warmly welcomed and embraced into the community. She now comes to church regularly and wanted to be Baptised to share her testimony and faith with other.
Jess grew up in China and was forced to attend a Buddhist school, which she hated. Jess found her schooling isolating and was discriminated against and excluded. Jess became a Christian when she was young and came to Australia to study as an international student. Like Ann, Jess was seeking real meaning in her life after the COVID isolation and found that she was being called to dive deep into her faith and stick to Jesus.
Jess has found that her long and hard schooling experience is now a blessing, as she uses her experience and understanding of Buddhism to reach others.
Baptism Sunday was an encouraging and inspiring time at Central Baptist Church, with people being Baptised who had been Christians for a long time, like Jess, and those who had recently been sought out by God and brought to faith, like Ann. They are excited to be planning another Baptism Sunday for July – with more people asking about Baptism after witnessing the testimonies of faith in April.
Pray for Central Baptist and their unique ministry to international students and the multicultural community more broadly in Sydney’s CBD. And pray for Ann, Jess and the others that were Baptised in April, as they step into the next stage of their faith journey.