Our story, as told by founder Mei Kee Wong:
Boston’s Chinatown is the most densely populated area in the city. New immigrants, senior citizens, families with small children, restaurant workers, among them many face the daunting challenges of adjusting to a new culture, to a new language, to life in a new country.
Jesus is here
During the late 1980s, a group of Chinese Christians in Boston began to sense the challenge that Christians were not doing enough for the needs of the people of Chinatown. Sitting in a common eatery in Chinatown several years ago, I watched as women, children, and men, mostly blue-collar workers, waited for their food. I wondered, “What would Jesus do if He were living here?” Then a sobering thought came: He is indeed here! We, His people, are to be His arms, His legs, His shoulders, His ears and His mouth! Do we see what He sees? Are we following His footsteps as the incarnate Christ: being and living among the common people, enjoying their company, sharing their joys and sorrows, healing and ministering to their needs, informing them of God’s love, care and provisions?
This group, now known as our Founders, started praying together in January 1990: Wilfred and Jane Chan, Wai Ching Cheung, Denise Wong Han, Jamson and Wanda Lam, Chik Ching Law, Bak Fun and Mei Kee Wong.
At this time there were only three Chinese Christian parachurch organizations working in Chinatowns on the East Coast. We visited them, observed their work, listened to them, and were encouraged in our vision. Gradually the theme of the family and its needs emerged. We decided to start with the needs of local Chinatown residents.
What we believe
ACCESS has been built on the belief that we are called to serve the whole person and family, demonstrating our faith through what we do as much as what we say. We believe that all cultures have strengths and weaknesses, and that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are our guides in helping us through the integration process. Learning to appreciate both cultures and embracing a strong and healthy Chinese-American identity requires us to be quicker to appreciate and slower to judge, and leads us to then make room for a third and fourth culture, learning to live peacefully and productively in this multi-cultural society.
In 1991 we incorporated as a non-profit organization in Massachusetts with the name The Bridge Chinese American Christian Community Services, Inc. Shortly thereafter, to avoid confusion with other groups, we changed our name to American Chinese Christian Educational & Social Services, Inc. (in short, ACCESS). Our Chinese name is changed slightly also, now literally translated “Bridge Builders - Chinese Christian Community Service Center.” It signifies the idea of building bridges between generations and between cultures, and of bringing people closer to God.
ACCESS found space in Tai Tung Village in Chinatown, the exact location we had hoped for. Through the hard work of volunteers making modest renovation changes to fit our needs, we were able to open our doors on February 10, 1992.