November 29

In the 1870’s the First Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon became burdened for the many Chinese who were moving into their city. Pastor D.J. Pierce wrote to E.Z. Simmons, a Baptist missionary who was on furlough from China, asking if he would come up from California to help the church. In 1874 Simmons and a young Chinese convert named Dong Gong arrived in the city – which had a population of about 100,000 at the time.
Little is known about Brother Gong other than the fact that he was born in China and emigrated to America with his parents. Through the evangelistic efforts of the First Baptist Church of San Francisco, Dong had been converted. When his pastor recognized in him the call of God, he began to train him for the ministry.
On this day (November 29) in 1874 a Chinese Sunday School was convened in Portland with twenty-two students, and before the end of the year the number was over a hundred. Soon some of these students were trusting Christ and were being baptized as a testimony of their faith. On June 22, the following year, Dong Gong was ordained, becoming, it is believed, the first Asian-American minister among the Baptists. In addition to preaching the gospel, Brother Gong took an active roll in opposing the opium trade and the gangs which controlled the local Chinese society. Eventually, his ministry was taking him back and forth to China. Dong Gong passed away at about the turn of the 20th century after faithfully serving the Lord and his people.
Throughout the years, many Baptist Churches in America have felt the need to evangelize the various ethnic peoples in their communities – from Native Americans to Orientals to Europeans and others. It can’t be expected that people from different cultures will automatically embrace English-speaking Christianity; they must be won to the truth from where they are socially and linguistically.