American pastor Francis Chan has been forced to leave Hong Kong after failing to get a permanent visa.

Back in November 2019, Chan told those in attendance at his final chapel service at Azusa Pacific University in California that he was over the American style of doing church.

“I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life and now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things,” he said.  “One guy tries some new lure and we go, ‘Oh, he caught a fish, let’s all try his method’. And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?”

However, according to Church Aid, in a video to friends and fellow pastors on January 5, Chan shared the news that Hong Kong authorities had denied his visa. Despite the news, Chan, who has been running a house church in Hong Kong, reportedly encouraged the attendees to follow example of the early church: to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Last week, after Hong Kong officials rejected our visas, we (Justin and Peter [my sons-in-law] and I) had to leave the country,” he said in a video. “We are now back in the U.S and appealing the decision, however. We want to be in Hong Kong and hopefully, we can return there.

“Before we had to leave Hong Kong, Justin, Peter, and I had seen the Lord plant three churches (house gatherings) with approximately 15-20 people attending each. We had each been leading one church in each of our homes, but then, suddenly we learned that we had to leave the country.”

In a statementon his website back in 2019, Chan said, “Nine years ago, while we were in Hong Kong, Lisa and I both felt God was calling us to move there. At that time, I had no desire to return to the US. None of us did. It’s not that we didn’t love living in the US, but we were really enjoying our dependence on God in unfamiliar, uncomfortable places. However, as we were searching for an apartment and school in Hong Kong, I believe the Lord spoke to me. He made it clear that there were two things I had to do in the States before I could go anywhere else: He wanted me to display a different picture of Church and a different picture of marriage/family.

“In my study of scripture, I saw a goal for Church and family that was radically different from what most American Christians envisioned and enjoyed. It has taken longer than I expected, but I believe I have completed the work I was supposed to do. Over the past 7 years, I have written two books—one about marriage and one about Church. More importantly, I have tried to live those messages out, giving those around me an example of what I wrote about.

“Paul told Timothy and Titus to “appoint elders” in every city. The strength and stability of the Church should be grounded in the godliness of the leaders put in authority. We now have several elders leading the churches in San Francisco, and they are the godliest men I know. I was able to joyfully step down as an elder and come under their leadership about a year ago in order to show that our church was not built around one person’s gift. We now have 25 pastors who are shepherding the people well. Disciples are being made, and the church is strong.

“About two months ago, I was walking through a slum in Southeast Asia. I went from hut to hut with a translator, sharing the gospel with people who had never heard about Jesus. The more I shared the gospel, the more alive I felt. It’s a completely different experience sharing with those who have never heard versus sharing with those who have already chosen to reject Jesus over and over. The more I shared my testimony coupled with the gospel message with these unreached people, the more I thought about how I wanted to do this with the remainder of my life. When I considered the need and opportunity, I knew I wanted to be based in Asia.”

Meanwhile, Chan encouraged those in his house church, reminding them that the when the apostle Paul would go to a city, he would stay there for three weeks to serve those who have never even heard of the name, “Jesus.” Then Paul would leave those new believers. As they had no bible nor resources, some wonder, how did they do it? All they had was the Holy Spirit, but with Him, they were able to establish a powerful church.

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