A religious organization accused of aggressive recruitment tactics is increasingly focusing its attention on ethnic Chinese students in Lower Mainland universities, according to campus clergy.
Simon Fraser University chaplain Bobby Ogden said all university students are vulnerable and those with poor English-language skills are even more susceptible to the tactics employed by the Vancouver Church of Christ.
"Students are . . . away from their homes," he said. "They are away from the influence of their home church. We get calls from adults who are interested in their kids or someone else's kids. We get calls from students who have been invited to Bible studies asking, 'What do you know about this group?"'
Ogden's observations came Monday as the Chung family of Coquitlam continued its attempt to [establish a dialogue about their concerns] with [their] daughter Ti Chung, , a former SFU student who joined the Vancouver Church of Christ [about] two years ago.
Rick Ross, a cult expert from Phoenix, said the Vancouver Church of Christ is focusing its efforts on young ethnic Chinese like Ti Chung, [who are often] immigrants.
The Chung family continued to be frustrated in their attempts to meet [and discuss their concerns in depth] with their daughter, despite a [brief] visit she paid to the family on I Boxing Day.
During the visit, Ross said, Ti Chung [seemed] scripted, made a brief statement [and] then left.
Ross and family members continued to press church leaders Monday for a longer meeting at which they could discuss the church and its [control over members]. Ross and the family were unsuccessful.
The Vancouver Church of Christ is not associated with the more traditional Church of Christ, which has numerous mainstream churches in Canada.
The Vancouver church has been accused of harassing prospective members with repeated calls and [often] pressuring them to isolate themselves from family and friends.
Pastor Chuck Cooley, a Lutheran minister who was formerly a part-time chaplain at SFU and the University of B.C. said he has been approached by many Christian students curious about the Vancouver Church of Christ. Cooley said he has counseled students about the church and its tactics.
UBC chaplain Darwin Dewar said the Vancouver Church of Christ attempted to form Bible study clubs on campus, but was refused permission. He said the church later took over a Korean student club, but abandoned it after people learned of its involvement.