Carl Chin is a businessman; but his first priority is sharing the gospel of salvation...
My Soul-winning Business
Meet a travel agent for heaven.
By Halsey Peat
Carl Chin keeps trying to convince people that he isn’t a pastor. But sometimes his love and service to them for the sake of the gospel seem to challenge his words.
The constant comparison with a pastor disappoints Chin. “I’m simply doing what every layperson is called to do,” he says. “Soul winning is not supposed to be left to the paid clergy. As a church, we believe in the priesthood of all believers so we must all go out and talk to others about how God has been good to us.”
Chin was gripped by the conviction to talk about Jesus when he first learned about salvation nearly 40 years ago. “This is just too good to keep to myself,” he told himself, and asked his pastor, Rick Bacchus, if he could accompany him on Bible studies. Soon Chin was giving Bible studies and looking out for visitors to his church who wanted to study the Bible.
“One of these,” he recalls, “was a prostitute. My wife, Cindy, and I worked with her. Imagine our joy when we witnessed her being baptized! Meanwhile, she had introduced us to a number of her former colleagues, and for nearly two years I gave Bible studies to a group of prostitutes. I witnessed changed lives, and I knew that this was just the beginning. No one is so sinful that God cannot save them.”
International in Canada
At his present church, Willowdale Adventist Church, in the Canadian city of Toronto, Chin helped Cambodian believers develop from a small group into an established congregation with their own pastor. After 20 years their congregation still refuses to allow Chin to leave their fellowship. He regularly attends two worship services on Sabbath: one with his own congregation, and another with the Cambodian group for three hours in the afternoon. Through an interpreter he leads a regular Bible study and often preaches as well.
“My time with the group is precious,” he says. “They say that I’m helping them, but I’m the one being blessed as I hear of their struggles back in Cambodia under earlier despotic rule.” The group gains at least three new converts every year.
Chin also has a close relationship with the Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Church in Toronto that began more than 30 years ago when a group of 10 then met for worship in a classroom at Crawford Adventist Academy, adjacent to Chin’s local church. Chin was with them every week, until they erected their own church building. He is their annual guest speaker for Chinese New Year service, usually introduced as one of those who helped make them what they are today.
Chin seems to be perpetually involved in a new evangelistic project for Jesus. With the Cambodian and Chinese churches firmly established and growing, he turned to missionary agitation at his home church. His pastor shared his vision, and within a few weeks Chin was appointed chairperson of a church plant committee.
“We soon discovered the nucleus of a small group looking for a sponsoring church,” Chin explains, “and it was not long before we began working with them and made them an official church plant.” They became the first South Asian Adventist congregation in Ontario. Pastor Rick Bacchus, who many years earlier had given Chin his first Bible studies, worked very closely with the group and, though retired, continues to oversee the group.
One on One
Chin prays daily that God will keep using him. God answered by leading him to Susan, an immigrant to Canada from mainland China who was paying her first visit ever to a Christian church of any sort. Chin takes up the story:
“As usual, seeing a new face, I approached her to welcome her and to introduce myself. Her English was fairly basic at best, but she understood me. As soon as I learned that it was her first visit to a Christian church, I asked if she’d like for Cindy and me to give her Bible studies. She was very happy and agreed for us to visit her.
“Our first visit was fairly challenging because we had never met someone who had absolutely no knowledge of the Bible. We had to change our usual approach to Bible study. By the third visit I suggested that she learn the sequence of the books of the Bible. It would give her some familiarity with the Bible. I suggested that she try learning them three at a time.
“By our next visit Susan was able to faultlessly recite the sequence from Genesis to the Psalms. In no time she was able to recite the 66 books in correct sequence and showed voracious hunger to understand the Bible’s message.
“Susan read The Desire of Ages in just two weeks. We gave her the entire Conflict of the Ages Series, which she completed in three to four months. As the Bible studies came to a close, she said she wanted to be baptized but was hesitant to do so. We soon learned that her sister in China was questioning her journey into Christianity, and Adventism in particular. Susan had been teaching her sister everything we had been teaching her about Jesus. We kept praying for her.
“She had also been worried for another sister, who had been diagnosed with cancer. We began praying for the sick sister and encouraged Susan to do so also. When news arrived from China that her sister was recovering, Susan attributed it to God’s power and enthusiastically told her skeptical sister so. The skeptical sister became more receptive, and soon her daughter began attending a church in China.
“We were so happy to witness Susan’s baptism at our local church. She is very much part of our family now.”
Reflecting now on the far-reaching impact of his work with Susan, Chin is quick to say: “I realize that if we allow ourselves to see God’s Spirit work through us, we will see how the results of our efforts will mushroom. Even though I know this, and I’ve seen how God has worked, yet somehow He still surprises me with people like Susan!”
The Ethics of Chin’s Witness
To those who insist that religious faith must be private, Chin warns that Seventh-day Adventists must not fall victim to that lie. There is nothing private about faith. Jesus’ life was one of reaching out to people, and we should live as He did, demonstrating love to people in their situation or circumstance, not simply praying for them from the comfort of our homes. He says, “It is as we engage with people that we are able to talk to them about the love of Jesus and invite them to meet Him.”
Chin, who runs a travel agency, is committed to the privilege of witnessing for Christ as long as he is able. He lives by a missionary principle: “Being a travel agent is my work, but soul winning is my business!”