Wayne Long First Christian Church
Well this is my home church. I was born and raised here in Bellflower and I’m a graduate of
BellflowerHigh School. I came into the ministry probably through the influence of a fellow named Billy Weeda who came to be the youth director here. He was a very very special person and I idolized him. Through him I became more and more involved. I was not particularly I the youth work here but when he came he invited me to come to the youth group and I did and held various offices and became very interested in the church. Finally it came down to a decision that I could either go into chemistry or into the ministry. I took chemistry. I made my decision because chemistry, which I thought would be interesting, did not seem to be that interesting to me. I just liked youth ministry and thought I had a life plan. I thought I would be a youth director for 10 or 15 years and then a professor of Christian education for 10 or 15 years and then I’ll be a college president. That was my plan. So you can see the end result. Taking chemistry over at
BellflowerHigh School helped me make the decision for the ministry and I’ve been involved in ministry ever since. I went to
NorthwestChristianUniversity in Eugene, Oregon and graduated from the
Oregon as well. I came back and did a little stint in Huntington Park and then went to Texas again where I did my seminary work at
It was probably because of my close identification with Mr. Weeda that I became involved in the ministry but I’ve never regretted it. As I’ve said my early plan was one way but it worked out a different way. When I went to
Texas to divinity school they sent me to preach in a little town called Palmer. I told them at the school I didn’t really want to be a preacher and they said, “They really need a preacher there.” I went down there and did that and the town was only 600 people and there were only 30 people in the church. I found though that I really loved preaching. Through that assignment I found something that I really enjoyed doing.
After that I shifted directions and decided that I wanted to become a preaching minister and that is what happened. Texas is a long way from Bellflower but I can say no wrong against
Texas because my wife and children come from there. I met her at
TexasChristianUniversity where she was working for the Dean. I had to go by the office every day and as I became more and more interested in her I’d go by the office more often. When I finished up my seminary training I took a mission trip to Mexico with a youth group from Grand Prairie, Texas to
Reynosa and maybe that was the beginning of my interest in missionary work. We got married at the end of that summer when I finished my course work in August and after the trip to
After we were married we went over to
Dallas and that’s where my children were born. First home, first children and first full time church. I served there for seven years. While I was there I had a continuing interest in missions. My mission interest was really launched when I was at
NorthwestChristianUniversity where they had an
Church Growth headed up by a fellow by the name of Doctor Donald McGavran. He later left
NorthwesternChristianUniversity came to a seminary over in
Pasadena and began The School of Church Growth there at Fuller Seminary. I was intimately acquainted with him earlier and was very very interested in missions though I had never thought I would be a missionary myself. I came back to Dallas and began the work in Dallas and my wife and I noticed that there were very many Spanish people Cubans who were part of the first wave of immigration that left
Cuba when Castro allowed them to emigrate. They spoke Spanish and I began a church among them. I had taken Spanish courses in high school and then one year at
TexasChristianUniversity and while I didn’t speak Spanish very well I started this church in
Dallas at the Bethany Christian Church. We started a new group there through the missionary outlet reaching out to Cubans although we also had Mexicans and Dominicans as well.
While I was doing that it it came to the attention of the Christian Missionary Fellowship who came to me and asked me if I would consider being a missionary with them in
Brazil. I told them that I was married and I couldn’t just go to
Brazil and beside that I did not speak Portuguese. I went to my wife asked her how she would feel about moving to
Brazil. She said, “That’s fine with me lets go.” We resigned the church and they sent us to Chicago to see a psychiatrist to make sure we weren’t off the deep end and then we left from there and came back to California to Fuller where Dr. McGavran was now the Dean of the Church Growth School and is considered the Father of the Church Growth movement in the United States.
I wanted to study there at Fuller as preparation for going to
Brazil. About a year later our schooling completed we were ready. In our system we have to raise our own money which we did and then we were off to Brazil where we stayed for eight years in
Campinas which is the second city in the state of San Paolo. At the time it was a city about the size of
San Francisco though it is larger now with over a million people. It is a university town and a manufacturing center and was where we went to live for the next seven or eight years. When we got there we couldn’t speak a word and no one was there to meet us. We just sat there bag and baggage and my little bit of Spanish didn’t seem to do much good. Finally people got our telegram telling them that we were arriving and they came out and rescued us. The next day they told us it was time to put the gringos in school.
They put us in school and we learned how to speak Portuguese. We spent 800 hours in Portuguese studies and that took about a year. When that was finally completed we began to work in
Brazil. Learning to speak the language was for the next year my full time job. It was basically four hours a day and the school philosophy was to have men in the morning and women in the afternoon. Our children were small, 3 and 4, so I watched over the children in the afternoon while my wife was learning her language skills and then I studied in the morning and she watched over the children. That was our first year and then we went on to spend another 6 years there. Our children were in high school and we decided we wanted them to complete that in the United States so we closed out that work and returned this time to
Eugene, Oregon. I was the visiting professor of missions at
NorthwestChristianUniversity for the year starting in August of 1953 through July of 1954.
I was assigned three classes to teach and while I was preparing for my mission classes I was at the
Oregon library I discovered that there were Portuguese speaking people here in
America which I hadn’t realized. Of course I spoke Portuguese and then I discovered that there were two locations for Portuguese speaking people. These were here in California along the west side of the central valley starting at Point Loma in San Diego and Artesia next door to Bellflower and then the west valley such as Hanford and Visalia through Modesto with probably the largest concentration in San Jose and Alameda on the East Bay. On the East Coast there is also a concentration where Portuguese came to
Having been in the mission I decided that the place that was the most fruitful for mission work would be
New England. Neither my wife nor I had ever been to
New England but we felt that people were still emigrating there. We were still with the Missionary Society at that time and we asked them if we could form a new focus of work among the Portuguese speaking people here in
America rather than overseas. They didn’t feel the time was right so my wife and I discussed it and she told me she had perfect peace if we started a mission to reach out to Portuguese speaking people here in
America. We did and we called it the “Hisportic Christian Mission”. “His” means pertaining to, “Port is the root word for the language and culture of
Portugal and “ic” acts as an adjective. We coined the phrase Hisportic and if enough people will use it it may end up in the dictionary. We have Hispanic referring to the language and culture of
Spain and not everyone who speaks Spanish is Spanish and not everybody who speaks Portuguese is Portuguese.
Brazil for instance is Portuguese speaking.
Our research led us to conclude there were 102 communities of a thousand or more Portuguese speaking people between Newark, New Jersey and
Boston. We decided to go and try and plant churches amongst them and we did that. We finished the work at the university and a church gave us a car and we drove four thousand and five miles from Eugene, Oregon to
Providence, Rhode Island. That was where we decided to start because it was halfway between New York City and
When we began our work we didn’t know a soul and had never been there before. We didn’t know if the funds would be there for our support, had no place to live and knew no one. At least we could speak the language, both English and Portuguese, though not with the local accent. That is the way we began in
We figured we would be meeting people who had emigrated from Portugal and the
Azores but we were surprised. An interesting fact that was uncovered by a researcher at Harvard discovered that in this same year (1984) one million Brazilians left Brazil to emigrate out of the country and the majority of them came to
New England. Unbeknownst to us just as we were leaving
Oregon to begin churches I New England Brazilians were also coming in a great emigration. In effect what happened over the next twenty-two years was that we were principally with Brazilians. Of course we knew the people, the language and the culture and we were able to start 47 congregations from Manchester, New Hampshire to
When that was complete I resigned from that job and was enjoying my retirement while my wife was still working for Cox Communication. We came out here for my son’s wedding and the church here had been without a pastor for years so I offered to preach for them just to fill in the pulpit because my oldest son was having his second son born in August and my youngest son was getting married in September. It didn’t make sense to go back and forth and a friend gave us a place to stay so while we were here we decided to help the church out since it was the church I had attended as a kid. Various people told me they needed someone like me at their church and after being here awhile my wife and I decided that our grandchildren were here and my brothers are here and it was the church I had attended that I would take it on as apart time job. We sold our home in
New England and even in this economy sold it to our realtor in two weeks which we figured was the Lord leading. We drove here and began the ministry a year and a half ago. That’s the story of my life. We’ve traveled in 39 countries in the world speaking English and Portuguese and now I’m trying to improve my Spanish. I get to use my Spanish every day but not my Portuguese as frequently though I did use it this morning speaking to the fellow who runs our church in Orlando and is now going to
Toronto. After 2 ½ years he has just been granted a visa to go from Brazil to Canada where he will start a mission working among the Brazilians who live in
The church here is an interesting place because over the years the communities have undergone change. From being the white suburban almost totally Anglo communities and one of the edges of the suburban communities of 1950 to one where today the high school is 41% Hispanic, 38% black and the balance Asian and Anglo Northern European with the latter being on the aging side. The church was planed among the newly arriving people coming into Bellflower after World War II from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and
Indiana among other places like that. Today those people are in their 80’s and 90’s. Their children have moved out to the edge of town and the suburbs are now out in the desert so the church has diminished. The challenge before us now is to reach the new people who live in the community. I have to think that that is why the Lord has brought me here because I have a background in mission work. I try to bridge the cultures that we have and to reach the people who live here today.
Our congregation totals between 90 and 100 people who are actual members with between 50 and 55 attending on Sundays and probably 150 people who attend on an irregular basis. That is the group we are working with right now. This hasn’t changed that much since when I started and is one of the challenges I am continually working at.
Our latest project is with
DailyVacationBibleSchool and we are going to be transforming our church into what we call “Hero Headquarters”. The concept is that we are challenging people to bring out “the hero that is within”. This includes children, youths, and adults. We have been working very hard to get this thing pulled together and our registration day will be on the 24th of July and we are partnering on that Saturday with Frank’s Bike Shop in
Bellflower to have a bicycle ride from Frank’s shop over to the church. With Weight Watchers we are going to have a 5K walk from South and
Downey to the church.
First Christian Church with Wayne Long as minister is located at
17003 S. Clark Ave.