Giving and receiving: One pastor’s ministerial journey

Rev. Dr. Yaliang Zhao

It comes as no surprise that people who help and encourage other people were themselves the recipients of help and encouragement at some point in their own lives. Take, for example, the Rev. Dr. Yaliang Zhao, lead pastor of First Baptist Church (FBC), Woburn, Mass., and her relationship to the Rev. Florence Li, American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) national coordinator of Asian Ministries.

“I see her gifts and leadership not only as a woman in ministry,” says Li, “but her compassionate heart and ambassador mind to transform a historical church into a bridge community between the old and the young, affirming cultural diversity in between.” Li has prayed periodically with Zhao over the years and, more recently, has conversed with Zhao regarding FBC’s need for an improved sound system to better serve the community.

Zhao seeks to revitalize her aging church by introducing young Asian-American families to the congregation. And she is quick to thank those who have provided guidance along the way, including Li.

“I would not be here without the strong advocate that The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and ABHMS provide to women ministers,” Zhao writes. “I am also indebted to many of God’s people pouring out their support and prayers during my ministerial journey.”