Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shanghai Zoo

posted by Alan
click on picture to see them full size

We had been meaning to take Janie to check out the Shanghai Zoo once the weather got warm enough. Located just 6 subway stops away from us, we finally had the chance last week. The Zoo was more like a large park with animals scattered throughout, but it had pretty much the animals that you'd want to see. Giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, elephants, etc. But with pandas and at 40RMB ($6 USD), still a pretty good deal. I remember the Bronx Zoo costing more than $6 just for parking, plus you have to get all the way up to the Bronx. As Janie gets older, I'm sure she'll enjoy the Zoo more and more. Right now she prefers Elmo, Minnie Mouse or Pooh singing instead of gazelles chewing on grass.

Last month was also Daisy's birthday. I surprised her with a trip to the Yun Du Hot Spring Hotel, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's about a 25 minute taxi ride outside of the center of Shanghai, but not a bad trip to make and definitely worth it. In most bathhouses (and there are many in Shanghai and China) the hot tubs and amenities are separated by sex and communal areas are limited to food and foot massage/relaxation rooms. The Yun Du has a large swimming pool, three different soaking pools, a saltwater pool, super hot pool and outdoor hot spring that both men and women can enjoy together (in provided swimwear of course). I have a feeling we'll be back sometime...

Monday, April 9, 2012


posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

Last month I was asked to write an article for TALK Magazine, a magazine for expats here in Shanghai. With Easter coming up, they wanted a piece about bring a Christian in Shanghai and some of the difficulties we face. As the Community Life Director at Shanghai Community Fellowship, the largest international Christian church in Shanghai, I deal with hundreds of people who are here living away from home, in need of community. When we came to Shanghai, I never planned or even really wanted to work for the Church, but how often does our life actually turn out the way we plan it anyway?

I don't often share too much about my job on this blog, but it's my passion and it's what I do. So (with lots of help from my amazing and supportive wife) here's the article:

“SCF started in 1996 but we still have people tell us 'How did I miss you?" Sometimes people come here with the expectation that they will not be able to find a Christian community thinking that because they are in China such a thing does not exist. They are often pleasantly surprised to find a vibrant Christian church in the heart of Shanghai”
Dale Cuckow, Senior Pastor
Shanghai Community Fellowship

As Easter Sunday approaches, we at Shanghai Community Fellowship (SCF) continue to search for new ways to reach out to the international community to let them know we’re here.

The ways that people come to us vary. A quick search online for Christians in Shanghai will bring people directly to our website and many Christians who are actively seeking a church are in contact with us before touching down at Pudong Int’l Airport. For others, it may be through a personal relationship that they are first invited. But for many, the pressures of life in a city such as ours have left them battered and in search of support.

The difficulties that stem from being a Christian in Shanghai lie not in a lack of a strong Christian community, but in every vice, desire, and temptation being readily available. As with anybody, succumbing to them can have devastating effects on careers, relationships, families and lives. To face these pressures, we rely on God’s provision in the form of accountability, support, and love through our church family. And this is what it looks like: A community made up of people from over 60 different nations committed to glorifying God by transforming lives. SCF strives to extend God’s love by providing such a community, not only at our Sunday afternoon services, but through small groups, educational resources, service opportunities and prayer. We even offer a course for non-Christians to ask questions about the Christian faith.

While occasions such as Easter tend to draw many non-regular church attendees, it is the desire of Shanghai Community Fellowship to see every individual who walks through our doors experience the lasting love of Jesus Christ through the church body that he has established here. Our doors are open to every foreign passport holder in Shanghai who is seeking solace amidst the chaos of city life. God’s intention in bringing us here is not merely for us to survive, but to thrive. And in order to thrive, a strong, loving community is vital.

I’m looking forward to personally welcoming you to ours on Sunday.

Alan Gong
SCF Community Life Director