China (MNN) — Christianity continues its rapid spread in China.
Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country, but in 1980, as the country emerged from the Cultural Revolution, the best estimates were that there were 10 million Christians. By 2007, says Baylor University sociologist Rodney Stark, the figure was 60 million. Do the math: that’s a growth rate of about 7% per year. And if that pattern holds true, it means that in 2014, there were nearly 100 million Christians in China.
In fact, the number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that, according to according to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, by 2030 it could have more church goers than America.
Growth like that is exciting but begs a larger question: Who is teaching all of these new Christians about their faith, about what God’s Word says, about how to read it in context? To make disciples, you have to be one–and someone had to teach you, first. That’s where China Partner, Inc. comes in.
President Erik Burklin is a third generation missionary to China and loves to serve the Church over in such a huge Country. Under his leadership, China Partner has come alongside partners on the ground to train the upcoming church leaders in evangelism, as well as theology.
In 2003, China Partner completed the project of rebuilding the Jiangxi Bible School which was founded in 1992 and is the home of many local church ministers.
This facility houses classrooms, dormitories, library, cafeteria, and offices and enabled the school to double its enrollment. With more enrollment for training to work for ministry, Christianity is truly blooming in the Jiangxi Province.
Burklin shared some thoughts while reflecting on ministry for over 20 years with this school during a training visit this week:
“This year they had more freshmen apply for the school and are attending the school than ever before. They are saying that they are having over 65 students here that are learning to become pastors.
“It’s a thrill for us as China Partner to partner with this school, and with the leadership here, to equip the future leaders so that they can reach their generation for Jesus Christ here in this province and around the country.
“Thank you for investing with us into these young people to make Jesus known in the largest country in the world.”
That’s even more significant when you consider that China has 18 legal seminaries and Bible schools. There are also several regional seminaries drawing students from several surrounding provinces, as well as provincial seminaries and Bible Schools, of which Jiangxi Bible School is one. They all train much-needed pastors, teachers, and evangelists for the Church in China.
A final note: Open Doors USA notes that because the communist government is still undecided about how to deal with the church, it suggests a debate about church liberties is happening within the Chinese government. Until the government comes to a decision, as the proverb says, “Make hay while the sun shines.”