A Bible school opens in China despite increasing persecution against Christians.

By September 11, 2003

China (MNN) — Increasing persecution against Christians in China isn’t stopping an organization from opening a new seminary.

Earlier this week, Voice of the Martyrs told us house church leaders were facing increase government involvement, saying many pastors have been questioned and even jailed for holding church services in unregistered churches.

However, Erik Burklin is with China Partner. Burklin just returned from China, where he says the first phase of the Jiangxi (jaing-zhee) provincial Bible school is now completed, with government approval. “We just returned from China,” say Burklin,. He says, “What is so exciting to me is that my grandparents were in that same province serving as missionaries with China Inland Mission. It was just a thrill for me.”

Burklin says this isn’t a new thing for the people of China. He says there are 18 Bibles schools in China, but they’re registered with the government. Burklin says there is SOME freedom in China. “Local pastors remind us that this freedom is relative. It’s not the kind of freedom you enjoy (in America) As long as you’re registered and are open about your activities the government isn’t against you. The government just likes control…including religion.”

The reality in China is that thousands are turning to Christ each week and more Bible schools are needed. He says, “When you think of a country that is as large as 1.4 billion, and you only have 18 official seminaries, the need of the hour in China is for additional theological training and Biblical training for future pastors and Christian leaders.”

Many mission leaders predict that Christians will soon make up 15-percent of the population in China. Burklin says that’s exciting to him. “I really believe there is a groundswell of evangelical Christianity that’s growing very quickly within China. And, that can only have a positive influence and hopefully for more reform.”

Burklin is asking Christians around the world to pray for wisdom. “I believe God is on the verge of doing something very great with the registered church and the unregistered church.”

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