Wang commissioned as new missionary
New United Methodist missionary Fuxia Wang of Norman was commissioned Oct. 12, in Stanford, Conn., in a General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) ceremony.
Assigned to ministry with the Chinese community in the Norman area, she may be the first GBGM missionary from mainland China to serve in the United States.
Rev. Wang was ordained in June as an elder of the Oklahoma Conference. In July, she began her service as a U.S.-based Church and Community Worker, the official GBGM designation.
Recent months for her have been filled with tutoring, preaching, and meeting with pastors and congregations. She spent more than two weeks in GBGM missionary orientation and training in New York.
"I have learned more about cross-cultural servanthood, UMC mission theology, self-care, etc.," Wang said. "I am having great fellowship time with missionaries serving in Thailand, Tunisia, and Switzerland. As we talked the talk, we also walked the walk—I walked 4 miles round-trip with my colleagues, to the Hudson River!"
In Norman, Wang is based at the Wesley Foundation, which is the UM campus ministry at the University of Oklahoma (OU), and works with leaders of the Norman Chinese Fellowship, the Oklahoma Conference, and South Oklahoma City District.
Before coming to the U.S., Wang taught English in China. She came to the U.S. for graduate study at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), Edmond. She was an atheist until Christ found her in Oklahoma in 1996.
Through the UM Chinese ministry active on the UCO campus, she was introduced to Christianity and responded to God’s call to full-time ministry. She completed her theological studies in California in 2002. She was appointed in 2006 to the campus ministry staff at OU.
"We embraced her ministry right away," said Daniel Dennison, director of that Wesley Foundation. "We had been wanting to do more international ministry. She was a gift from God. She had such a great spirit, full of joy and energy."
Rev. Dennison continued, "You have to have trust to share the Gospel. Trust levels can be built faster if you speak the language and know the culture."
He said Wang provides radical Christian hospitality in the Chinese community, offering Christ in everyday ways.
She meets the international students at the airport. She helps new arrivals, often limited in their English-language skills, to navigate systems for phone service, banking, driver’s licenses, and health services. Each Friday, she serves up a home-cooked Chinese meal and leads Bible study.
Evangelism is at the center of this practical work.
"I brought 50 people to the Lord within three years after I believed in Jesus," Wang said, recalling her first years in Oklahoma. "I invited people to the church and shared the Word of God with them and prayed for them … I was called a televangelist because I shared my faith over long-distance telephone with my relatives and friends in China."
Several years ago, Guy Ames learned Wang’s story of transformation from Puong Lau, pastor of Edmond Chinese International UMC, which is Wang’s church home. That congregation began as a UM Bible study group at a time when Chinese-language United Methodist communities existed only on the nation’s coasts, Rev. Ames said.
Now Wang is reaching out to the Asian-American population in the Norman-south Oklahoma City area. The demographic includes about 8,000 people, he said.
"Nobody except her could reach the people she’s reaching. She’s a tremendous evangelist," said the Ardmore District superintendent who has long enthusiastically supported UM missions. "Her infectious witness, joyful Christianity, and background allow us to build bridges from Norman, Oklahoma, that stretch around the world.
"Fuxia and Puong remind us that the world has literally come to the Oklahoma plains," Ames continued.
"This is cutting-edge mission and ministry," said Kathleen Masters, who heads the GBGM Church and Community Workers program. "Fuxia Wang is proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed to an expanding population."
Crucial support for Wang’s move to missionary status came from key Conference leaders. Financing was a concern.
Frankye Johnson, superintendent of the South Oklahoma City District, described, "The Wesley Foundation at OU receives its funding from Apportionment dollars and generous donors who give to that ministry, so there was no surplus of funding for this position" when Wang was appointed in 2006. Then the director at that time secured initial financing from several sources.
"By the time Daniel Dennison was appointed as director, the Chinese fellowship was bearing fruit, and Daniel had the insight and initiative to begin finding sources of helping this ministry stay alive," Rev. Johnson explained.
Dennison gave the credit to God. "There is such a need for her ministry here. I didn’t want to lose it," he said. "I think God put a holy discontent in my heart."
GBGM and the Wesley Foundation are partnering in a new mission model. Recognizing this ministry as a Church and Community site with a resident missionary enlarges the capacity of the work through the UM connectional system.
—Elliott Wright of the GBGM and Holly McCray contributed to this report.