China (MNN) — In Chinese society, the Village is a concept
of community. That concept is woven
tightly throughout the folklore of the culture.
One part of community comes from an old belief that when
a child is born, invisible red threads connect that child's soul to all those
people who will play a part in his or her life. The older that child got,
the tighter the threads until the child was an integral piece of the overall
Generations never strayed far from their home turf, and the draw
of family kept people coming back. However, with an emerging economy, that is
changing. Erik Burklin with China Partner
explains, "Young people want to go to the big cities to get wealthy, and they
have a huge migration to the major cities."
Many of them are finding new community in the urban setting,
and that red thread is becoming more evident to the local church. However, Burklin continues, "That's an issue
now, for the local churches: 'How do we deal with that in a pastoral care type
situation, or pastoral counseling?"
Specifically, Burklin says that "there are so many new believers
that are coming into the churches now–whether that's the unregistered churches
or the registered churches–that the existing pastoral staff cannot keep up with
training enough pastors and lay pastors fast enough."
China Partner wants to help. They've hit on an effective
method, says Burklin. "We sense that the best way that the Chinese will reach
their own people is through the Chinese. We come alongside of the Chinese church to participate in what God is
doing in their country by providing training and much-needed training material."
As word about their biblical training spreads, they keep
getting new invitations. China Partner
is responding this week to another round of invitations. "This particular trip, we will be in three
brand new cities: two in Heilongjiang Province, and then one brand new city in
Essentially, they're training the "trainers," he says. "These three have churches attached to them,
or they're part of church ministry. So in these three locations, they will be
inviting lay pastors from their neighborhoods, from their county areas, to come
for some short-term training."
Each round of training is tailored to the needs of the local
church. Burklin says this trip won't be any
different. "We normally concentrate on
discipleship training, biblical leadership (how to run a church well, how to run a small
group well), and then, the third area that we concentrate on is pastoral care."
Often, follow-up comes at a second invitation to repeat and
expand a second module of training after a year's practice. Burklin asks prayer for wisdom as they become
a part of the pattern of "red threads" in the body of Christ in China. As described in the legend, the red threads draw tighter
and bring these new believers closer to one another and to Christ. Burklin says, "Pray specifically for open hearts for those
individuals who are coming to our training sessions. This is going to be new
for them. In some cases, I would imagine
that we will be the very first foreign team that has given them training."