Early this year, my friend and I visited churches and ministries during our trip to Macau. We were honored to pay a visit to Macau Bible Institute (MBI) through the introduction made by the Institute's President Rev. Abraham W. Yeung.
The Bible school rents a floor of a business building as its campus, paired with an office, classrooms, and a student lounge. Entering the door, I saw 2 Timothy 2: 15 - "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." That is the school's motto.
With a seating capacity of dozens of students, on the wall of a classroom hangs a namelist of individual financial donors throughout last year.
The school mainly serves the churches all over Macau. President Yeung introduced the present situation of the Macau church. The total Sunday combined attendance in all the Protestant churches in Macau stands at about 5,000. The average attendance per church is around 50, while there are approximately 10,000 Christians in this region. A variety of Protestant denominations flourish, including the Christian Missionary Alliance, the Baptists, the Anglicans, and the Church of Christ in China. Most of the local churches have been started by missionaries from foreign countries, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
More than two centuries ago, Robert Morrison came to Macau as the first Protestant missionary. Since then, other missionaries followed. In the past, Macau was more of a springboard for missionaries with a vision for ministry in China's mainland. Some could argue that the number of Christians in Macau is not high after 200 years of missionary work. However President Yeung noted that the Macau residents are different from those of the past because the majority of the locals have settled down in the last decades. Moreover, the initial vision of MBI was to support training programs in the mainland.
MBI was founded in 1982 as the first non-denominational, evangelical Protestant seminary in Macau. According to "Under the Shadow of the Guia Lighthouse: A History of the Macau Bible Institute (1982-2017)" written by MBI's dean Dr. Vicky Kan, MBI was established by Chinese church leaders Rev. Thomas Wang, Rev. Yam-man Lam and Rev. Paul Chi (the then President of Overseas Theological Seminary in Hong Kong) not long after China's reform and opening up. The Institute mainly focused on training workers from the mainland. In the first year, 16 students were enrolled, half of them from the mainland and most of whom were new immigrants in Macau. In the 1980s, the Macau church numbered between 20 and 32. At that time, many MBI students were engaged in union ministries and prepared for large-scale evangelistic crusades. In 1988, the school launched an outreach center to help with local evangelism. In order to graduate, students needed to do a minimum two-year internship that included evangelism, church planting, and preaching. MBI also hosted expository preaching training programs to equip local laypersons and students from Hong Kong. As the number of churches and congregations increased in Macau in the 1990s, MBI focused more on training and opened post-graduate programs. In 2017, it initiated the project of researching the history of Christianity in Macau, including the in-depth study of individual churches and organizations, the overall situation of the church in Macau, and the church's relations with society.
With ten teachers, the school serves more than 30 full-time students as well as student choosing electives or auditing courses. It has nurtured almost 200 graduates who work in the churches and ministries of Hong Kong and Macau. Those who work in Macau are engaged in pastoral work, drug rehabilitation, and prison ministries. It also houses a Christian theology library that consists of about 15,000 Chinese and English volumes.