PENSACOLA–As the new year dawned, a new Chinese church was launched.
Pensacola Chinese Baptist Church, pastored by Dawson Zhang, had more than 100 in attendance at its inaugural worship service Jan. 1. Most attendees are Mandarin-speaking Christians from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Southeast Asia.
Zhang gave a gospel presentation, sharing that anyone who accepts God’s Lamb, Jesus, will be justified by His blood, with four people responding with salvation decisions.
Just three weeks later, the young congregation celebrated Lunar New Year, with food, entertainment and expressions of gratefulness to God.
“Happy Lunar New Year of the Rabbit to all my Facebook friends. … Tonight in Pensacola the Chinese community celebrated the new year with joy and blessings,” Zhang wrote in a Jan. 22 social media post.
Reflecting on the launch of Pensacola Chinese Baptist Church, Zhang said, “I think it is the Lord’s guidance for a church-planting ministry in Florida. There are many mission fields from north to south, from west to east in the Sunshine State.”
During the summer of 2022, the Zhang family visited Pensacola Christian College in preparation for their teenage sons to attend in the future. While visiting, they learned of the Chinese Bible study group meeting at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola.
Zhang, a church planter with churches in Mississippi and Alabama, contacted David Welch, a former International Mission Board missionary to Taiwan and current Bible study leader for the Chinese-speaking group at Olive.
Excited and encouraged by one another, they met with Ted Traylor, Olive Baptist Church pastor, and Shaun Pillay, associate pastor, to discuss a church plant in Pensacola.
‘We … are excited to serve Pensacola Chinese Baptist Church as they advance the kingdom of God in our area.’
“After years of having a small Sunday school class for those with a Chinese background,” Traylor said, “I’m thrilled to partner with pastor Zhang and the North American Mission Board to make the Chinese church a reality on the Pensacola campus.”
In attendance at the Lunar New Year celebration was Brian Nall, executive director of the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association, who said, “The Chinese community is an under-reached segment of our community. We are deeply grateful for Pastor Dawson and are excited to serve Pensacola Chinese Baptist Church as they advance the kingdom of God in our area.”