China (MNN) — On Friday we talked about China’s tightening restrictions and the way those policies could affect the future of the Chinese Church. Most of that discussion means speculation, but one thing is certain; the Chinese Church is going to need leaders.
That’s why China Partner works with a Bible school that trains pastors and teachers in Kunming.
“This Bible school in Kunming has over 250 students, and they have 10 different minorities that are attending this Bible school,” says China Partner’s Erik Burklin. “It was such a beautiful symbol of how God is working in China, even in the areas where most people believe that there are still many unreached peoples that need to be reached for the gospel.”
The school doesn’t just equip students and send them all over China. Instead, they try to encourage graduates to pour into the places they call home.
“When they graduate, they have a choice to either go back to their communities where they came from to serve as pastors or they can get further education,” Burklin explains.
Another part of what makes this school special is its focus on minority people groups. Their programs are intentionally attractive to individuals that might otherwise be marginalized.
“They really value these young people who come from these minority groups, and I found that to be very uplifting and very encouraging,” Burklin says. “In fact, many of the professors at seminary are from these minorities.”
Working With China Partner
So what does collaboration with China Partner actually look like? According to Burklin, their last trip saw them conduct training for some of the students. The program was so successful that the seminary invited China Partner to come back for further training classes.
Recently, a small team went back to conduct seminars for students on counseling and pastoral counseling. However, the future of their partnership is uncertain. Although Burklin would love to continue collaborating with the Bible school, tighter regulations might make that difficult.
“They are very careful on inviting foreigners to come and teach,” Burklin says. “In fact, many leaders told us ‘be patient with us right now because even though we might not be able to invite you to do some training’”
But Burklin says this obstacle is “a hiccup that I think is short term.”
“If we are willing to be patient right now with our brothers or sisters in China, and not force our trainings on them, and just wait a little bit, maybe do less training this year, I really believe that next year, it’s going to turn again, and they’re going to slowly invite us again to come back and do help them in their training ministry.”
Hope in the Face of Uncertainty
For Burklin, the moral of the story is that no matter what happens in the world of politics and regulations, God has a plan for building His Church.
“What we’re learning and what we saw face to face, personally, as a witness, is that no matter what happens with the government, His Church has continued to flourish and is growing and indeed, bearing fruit,” Burklin says. “We have to continue to work hard to make sure that every tongue and every race will hear about the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Another important lesson to remember is that no one is better equipped to help the Chinese Church than the Chinese Church.
“We were just blown away again by how God is using the local Christians that live right in those areas for His glory and how He’s using these individuals to build His Church,” Burklin says. “Let’s, as Christians outside of China, wait upon the Lord and be patient and trust that God is going to accomplish His will in the Church.”
How to Pray
One of the most important things you can do for the Chinese Church right now is pray. Fortunately, Burklin has some suggestions for what you can actually be praying for.
“First of all, just pray for courage for the church leadership, especially in the unregistered churches, because they’re going to be under a lot of pressure now,” he says. “Just that God would give them wisdom.”
One question that’s on many Chinese believers’ minds is whether or not to register their churches.
“Many, out of theological reasons, want to keep church and state separate,” Burklin explains. “They say, ‘I need to obey God more than man, and since Christ is the head of the Church, I will trust this church to God and to Christ, and not be bothered with the restrictions or the rule of law that the government of communist government is telling me that I have to register.’”
No matter where churches fall on that decision, Burklin says God does have a plan.
“When we see these hiccups, when we see things when we see when we hear news about further restrictions, we always wonder, ‘Okay, God, what are you doing? Why are you allowing this to happen?’ Well, I think sometimes God is allowing this to happen so that He can teach us to be still in spite of problems to commit our way to the Lord to trust in Him, not in our own doing or in our own accomplishments.”
Pray for courage. Pray for wisdom. Pray for patience. Pray for faithfulness.
“God will accomplish his work, and He will build His church. That’s what we can trust in. That’s what we have to believe in.”