To: My future fellowship

Dear Fellowship,

This letter is directly addressed to my future fellowship.  Indeed it seems absurd that I am addressing this letter to my future fellowship even though I have yet to settle in New York.  However, I want to record my thoughts and feelings in this entry as I address a matter that has been plaguing my mind for quite some time. 

During my grade school years, the majority of my church life was spent at Wilmington Chinese Evangelical Church (WCEC) in Wilmington, Delaware.  It was there that I made a few good friends, accepted Christ in my life, and got baptized.  All was well until around 2000/2001, my church decided to plant another church in West Chester, PA.  Moving there was hard.  Planting a church meant a new beginning for everything.  Despite my insistence of staying in familiar territory, my parents insisted that we try to support the planting of this church.  A few good friends moved to this church with me, so my time at this West Chester Church was more bearable.  When I obtained my driver’s license, I decided to visit my old church at WCEC.  During my visit, I found that things weren’t quite the same.  There were a ton of new faces I didn’t recognize and the people there had formed their own friend groups.  I had essentially missed out the time period to join those groups.

In college at Penn State, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a fellowship called AACF (Asian American Christian Fellowship).  It was there that I got involved and made a lot of solid friends.  I loved my bible study groups and I felt that I matured as an individual and grew spiritually.  Sadly, nothing lasts forever.  

After I graduated, I attended nursing school in Philadelphia.  Unlike my time in college, I had to do a lot of church and fellowship hopping.  While I did visit a number of churches and fellowships, I was never really able to plug myself in to any of them.  Of all the fellowships, I think I was only able to make a one or two friends.  While this was a big change from my time in college, I didn’t complain.  School was the main reason I wasn’t able to be an active participant.  It was here that I realized and missed that strong fellowship I had back in college.

After I left my nursing school, I was back at home and in limbo.  I didn’t know where else to go, but to church at West Chester, PA.  Of course, I had a lot of pressing issues and matters ongoing during this time, but I still made a point to continue my spiritual growth.  At my church at West Chester, PA, I found there was more people attending, but they were largely in middle and high school.  There was no fellowship for young adults.  

“Going to church shouldn’t be the selfish desire to make friends, but rather, grow spiritually.”

This was the thinking I carried with me during that time.  Indeed, I did learn a lot of Christian theology.  My years spent at the West Chester church helped me understand the bible and taught me to think in a different perspective.  However, one thing was missing:

I had no fellowship.

When I say this, I mean that I had no group of people where I could talk and hang out with.  Again, the majority of the people at my church were in middle and high school.  The generation gap was too wide.  While the church did have a few young adults here and there, the age gap was still a huge factor.  

Is it really too much to ask to be around people my age?

I started a bible study group at the church in hopes of building a strong young adult fellowship.  For a few months, things seem to be working out quite well!  However, the time and effort started to wear on me.  I couldn’t do this by myself and I had to attend to matters in my own life.  Having no one around my age started to become a problem and I found myself just attending church and going home.  Just come and go.  

Going to church is important, but having a solid fellowship is also equally important.

When I started dating with Youwen, we attended an American church.  It was at this church that she got baptized and met a lot of great people, who cared for her and mentored her.  While I wasn’t quite plugged into the church yet, going to church and doing devotions with her inspired me again.  There was a sense of fellowship, but not the same one in my grade school/college years.  A men’s bible study group and fellowship with that special someone are two entirely different experiences.  In the background, my life was finally at peace and now I can finally enjoy going to church with my girlfriend and growing spiritually together.

Unfortunately, the next chapter of my life is in New York city, where I will be attending dental school for the next four years.  Youwen still has another year at West Chester before she graduates so there will be at least one year where we will be apart.  Thanks to technology, I know we will keep in touch via video chat, text, and phone calls.  During this year, I hope we will encourage each other to get more involved in church and grow in our spiritual life.  

In closing, once I get settled in New York, I really hope to find that fellowship.  While there is no perfect fellowship, I just want to attend a place where I can worship God and fellowship with people around my age.  

To my future fellowship in New York for the next four years, I hope you can be a home for me (and eventually Youwen) to come, worship, and fellowship.  
Please consider me as an applicant to your fellowship.
Please take me in.

Sincerely,

Eric Cheng

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Filed under July 2014

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