China Partner resumes work in China

By June 18, 2024

China (MNN) —With the COVID-19 pandemic now in the rearview mirror, China Partner has been able to resume their work in China and reconnect with some of their partners. 

Erik Burklin, president of China Partner, just finished an unusual trip to China. He didn’t know what to expect when returning to the country. 

“We’re getting ready to go on this trip and I’m thinking, ‘Okay, God, what is going to be happening?'” Burklin says. “‘How are we going to be received?’ And the experience that we had, it couldn’t have been any better. It was almost like God was paving the way wherever we went.” 

Burklin said they were warmly welcomed. After a driver took them to their hotel, they met with the vice-president of the China Christian Council, their overseas department, and the local Shanghai Christian Council office.

They even interacted with a few government officials, which Burklin said was interesting due to the increased enforcement of Chinese religious laws that generally ostracize Christians. 

“[Our hosts] were smiling, they were greeting us,” Burklin said. “Of course, this is a very Chinese way of operating, you know, they’re always very gracious and hospitable, but I felt like there was some genuineness there. There was some genuine excitement, I think also on their side, to realize, ‘Oh, here’s a foreign delegation that’s coming to visit us in China again after a long lockdown.’ In many cases, by the way, we were the first foreign group to be visiting them.” 

China Partner equips local Chinese church leaders. Photo courtesy of Ruth Kramer.

Burklin explains a duality between the Chinese government wanting to make things more Chinese, including religion—a process called sinicization—and both the U.S. and China being players in the world economy. 

“They are understanding that they need us and we need them when it comes to trade and economy and so forth, and I think that’s filtering down also in the area of religion, and I think they’re starting to realize that foreigners are not all that dangerous,” Burklin says.

China Partner’s hosts on this visit were kind and inquisitive, asking about their feelings as Christians, their families, and politics. 

Burklin realized that, though there is a push for Sinicization in China, there is also curiosity to see how the rest of the world operates and how bridges can be built between the East and West. 

“I want to say this, I think all of that is just God’s working,” Burklin says. “I think the church in China understands, that they’re living within this system, it’s not a good system, but they respect the system, and they know that they are serving a higher power, which is God Almighty, El Elyon, the Most High God, that’s who they serve.”

In fact, the team met with a local pastor in charge of preparing new believers for baptism. In 2023, 400 people were baptized in that pastor’s church alone. This means that 400 people not only came to faith but participated in an extensive discipleship process so that they could be baptized. 

In the midst of Sinicization, churches—even house churches—are thriving and making a positive impact on society. 

Kingdom work is happening, Burklin says. He recalls Jesus’s reminder in times of the Roman Empire that He was of a different kingdom, God’s most high kingdom. 

This also serves as a reminder for American Christians, that the leader and state of the country is not as important as God’s Kingdom. 

“But this is not the end game,” Burklin says. The United States is not the savior of the world. Jesus Christ is. And there is a higher kingdom that is at play. And we as Christians need to be looking forward to that kingdom, not the kingdom that we live in. And that’s what’s happening in China.”

Pray for China Partner as they continue to be invited back into China to train and equip local pastors

Pray for wisdom for the Chinese church leadership and that God continues to bring people to Him, in China and around the world. 


Header image courtesy of Ruth Kramer. 

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