Fully Devoted Disciples

Don’t blink as you walk through San Jose Christian Alliance Church (SJCAC); you just might miss one of the myriad outreaches taking place at this diverse mission that exemplifies the heart and vision of Alliance founder A. B. Simpson. The church, established in 1975 by Rev. Abraham and Lillian Poon to reach the Chinese community in what is now known as Silicon Valley, has grown into a multicultural, multi-ministry center that is meeting the physical and spiritual needs of thousands throughout the world.

Services are held in languages for six ethnic groups, including Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Khmer, Spanish and English. The English congregation is pastored by Ted Kang, who, along with his wife, Sandy, have been at SJCAC since 2002. Sandy oversees local ministries of the church, including the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program. 

Teaching English

story“Immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam, Mexico, and other countries learn the English language from faithful volunteers who work long days and then devote their evenings to teaching English,” says Sandy. “God has brought many people to us.”

Students are placed in beginner, intermediate, or advanced classes, which meet in community rooms at the church as well as at a nearby apartment complex, where residents are comprised of large numbers of recent immigrants to the United States. At the conclusion of each class, the teacher reads a Bible verse in English, relating a personal story that makes the Scripture relevant and life-applicable. Teachers are open about sharing their faith and ask students for prayer requests. An annual year-end party is held, where students receive a full gospel presentation. “Many hands have been lifted to receive Jesus by students who were moved by these selfless volunteers who teach them all year,” says Sandy.

Services in Jesus’ Name also are provided to senior citizens, “who arrive every morning via public transportation to the church’s Senior Center, a ministry that recently celebrated its 17th anniversary,” Sandy says. ESL and citizenship classes, singing, ping pong and line dancing give the area’s elderly immigrants an opportunity for socialization. The seniors receive lunch daily before going home.

Meeting the Healer

The area’s homeless receive medical and dental treatment from medical professionals at the Silicon Valley Christian Health Alliance (SVCHA), located a few miles from the church in a building operated by one of San Jose’s oldest Christian mission organizations, City Team Ministries. Dr. Cheryl Thieu, SJCAC church member and internist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, founded SVCHA with a like-minded colleague.

“God placed recognition of His provision in my heart at an early age,” says Cheryl. “I grew up in an environment where I never lacked any material thing, but I saw people around me who clearly were in need,” Cheryl says. “Through a local VBS in Cincinnati I learned about Jesus as a child, and I began attending church regularly in high school. It was during medical school that I began to hear the Spirit say, ‘I put you here on earth for a finite time. What are you going to do with the time and skills I have given you?'”

Cheryl’s journey brought her to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she met and married her husband, Douglas, whose Alliance heritage goes back to Vietnam. Douglas’ grandparents were members of a Chinese church established by Alliance workers in Vietnam, one of whom remained a close family friend until her passing.  “Betty Arnold was our dear friend and attended our wedding. We are grateful for our Alliance roots,” Cheryl says.

Christian medical professionals from other churches participate in the ministry as well, and equipment for the medical and dental offices was donated. “The focus is really the work of God and His healing,” says Cheryl. “The more I do this, I realize how small my role is. I’m the gatekeeper of meds, but God is the one who heals.”

The Least of These

Halfway around the world, the wounded spirits of disabled abandoned children in China also receive the Healer’s touch through Living Stones, an orphanage founded by SJCAC in 2005. When the final payment of SJCAC’s mortgage was made in 2000, the pastoral couple, Abraham and Lillian Poon, had a vision for the church. “Pastor Poon said since God had provided so much, we would use our resources to help the fatherless, poor and needy,” says Amy Lee, SJCAC member. Five years later, the vision was realized in Living Stones Village, a home for the fatherless in Nankang, Beihai, China.

The facility is located on 80 acres of land, where construction of a self-sufficient community is under way.  Children with missing limbs, polio, blindness, cerebral palsy, hearing loss and crippling burns are being cared for and treasured at the orphanage. Living Stones’ unique mission is to provide a loving family, education, training, and career opportunities for the orphans and the underprivileged in the community.

The multi-outreach mission also includes Living Stones Academy, an English language instruction school (K-12) that provides high quality education with a comprehensive and holistic curriculum for students of all races and creeds. Additionally, houses have been built on the grounds for “parents” who provide a home and family for children who otherwise would not have the experience. “Children whose heart cry was for a mom and dad are now living with ‘parents’ in homes at Living Stones Village,” says Amy.  “Most children with disabilities [in China] are institutionalized for life. At Living Stones Village and its education center, they are trained in how to live productively in community and contribute effectively to society.”

Relying solely on a donor base with no advertising, the construction is gradual. “We don’t have flowery days every day,” says Amy. “Sometimes we wonder where the resources will come from. Then these nameless lovers of Christ give and bless us with what we need.”

Equipping the Laity

Abraham and Lillian Poon also have established Pastoral Care School, an international, cross cultural, Kingdom ministry endeavor to equip Christian ministers and lay leaders to pray for the sick and set the captives free. The Poons, together with their ministry team, have conducted Pastoral Care School conferences in the United States and worldwide since 2002.

The school is a five-day experience of “living in God’s presence, experiencing His healing and being equipped to shepherd others,” says Lillian. With a heart to minister to Christian leaders, the Poons are empowering the laity to shine the light of Christ into some of the spiritually darkest corners of the earth. There are more than 2,000 Pastoral Care School alumni worldwide.

The Rest of the Story

Abraham and Lillian Poon are relentless in their endeavors to proclaim the risen Christ, His healing power, and His soon return. From their humble beginnings 35 years ago to the extensive ministry outreach today, the power of God at work through San Jose Christian Alliance Church is evident, but it’s not over yet.

 “The first 15 years of [SJCAC] was about getting established and having our own church home,” Abraham says. “Then the Lord renewed the church for the next 10 years before giving us His vision in the year 2000: ‘Every believer is a missionary, either here or there.’ In the last 10 years, we have sent out more than 20 workers into various mission fields, and a number of local outreach efforts for the church’s immediate neighborhood are providing compassionate care for the poor and needy. The story has only just begun.”

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