The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Honduras inaugurated its first community center for the Chinese community in Tegucigalpa in early March 2020. The new center will provide services to the thousands of Chinese families in Honduras. Leaders from the Chinese embassy attended the inaugural event.
“This is a dream come true,” said Adan Ramos, president of the Adventist Church in Honduras. “We have been working for more than a year to establish this center to serve the Chinese community here.”
The intent of the center is to provide an opportunity for the church to learn more about Chinese culture and provide services like Mandarin classes for the younger generation to get reacquainted with their own culture. Spanish classes, healthy lifestyle and cooking classes, legal assessment, and recreation will also be offered, church leaders said.
Elie Henry, president of the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, encourages the congregants to ensure the center shows the love, acceptance, and care that Jesus showed to all people during His life on earth. [Photo: Honduras Union]
Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Honduras Ingrid Hsing (front right) sings China’s national anthem next to several colleagues and audience members during the opening of the new community center for the Chinese community, on March 3, 2020, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. [Photo: Honduras Union]
Group photo of church leaders and Chinese community leaders after the inauguration of the new Chinese community center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on March 3, 2020. [Photo: Honduras Union]
Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Honduras Ingrid Hsing thanked the church for its initiative to connect and support the Chinese population, which numbers more than 7,000 in the country.
“Perhaps each one of us has their own faith beliefs, but what’s most important is to accept that there is a God that is helping and guiding us into the right path,” Hsing said. “Together, we can do good for the community.” Hsing assured church leaders that she and her colleagues at the embassy would be supportive of the community center and its projects.
Inter-American Division (IAD) president Elie Henry spoke during the ceremony. He encouraged leaders to welcome migrants and other people groups in Honduras and continue to serve them.
“This center is an opportunity as a church to reaffirm our faith in actions, that everyone who comes in is loved, accepted, and cared for and is well integrated into life here in Honduras,” Henry said.
“Just like Jesus showed His love for humanity, so He invites us to serve in showing that love flows through this new center.”
The new community center becomes the third center of influence for the Chinese community in Inter-America, said Samuel Telemaque, director of Adventist Mission for IAD. A center in the Dominican Republic has been running for more than three years and another in Panama for six months.
“We are delighted to provide young people with language learning and health lectures in the largest Chinese center of learning in Inter-America,” Telemaque said.
Telemaque explained that many of the first generation of Chinese migrants to places like the Dominican Republic, Panama, and other countries worked long hours to provide for their growing families and their children.
The church has an opportunity to step in and assist these Chinese communities in language learning to preserve their culture, he explained.
The center will be led by Seventh-day Adventist pastor Hsiang-Po Chang and his wife, Mei Yu Lai, who arrived in Honduras in November 2019 and will be teaching Mandarin classes, among other things.
The Chinese Community Center is operated and managed in coordination with the Adventist world church, IAD, the Honduras Union, and two of its local conference offices.
The center is located in Tegucigalpa, in the office building owned by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Honduras. The large room has been set aside exclusively for the new community center.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Honduras has more than 96,000 members worshiping in 698 churches and congregations. The church also operates a hospital as well as 25 primary and secondary schools.
Adan Ramos contributed to this report.