China (MNN) — Over the past few days, we’ve told you about China Partner’s trip to China and Erik Burklin’s familial ties to Nanchang, the city the team visited. We haven’t told you about the marriage training China Partner sponsored while they were on the ground.
According to China Partner’s Erik Burklin, Sharon and Charlie Li, the couple that led the trainings, “have a passion for family and marriages.”
“They did a few sessions with the students on marriage and how to choose a spouse which were highly popular amongst the Bible school students,” Burklin said.
The Lis taught practical Biblical principles about being a good spouse, being part of a healthy family, and the influence of healthy marriages on family on the community.
“We’re trying to keep it very down-to-earth and practical for those who come to our training. In this case, that meant Bible school students,” he said. Local pastors and teachers also go through this training, many of whom have been married for a long time and have children.
“They did a lot of Q&A time with them, and they tried to tailor their training based on the feedback they got,” Burklin said. For example, one woman came up saying her husband was a gambler and asking how she could respond.
The course is intentionally not a set class. Rather than using prepared sessions and materials, the seminars are intended to be practical, not academic.
“Most couples came up and asked questions about their teenage sons and daughters. They had problems with them and wanted to know how to deal with those problems.”
“Whenever we do these kinds of trainings, we always try to be very practical and very based on their current needs and what they’re faced with, and then we try to answer those questions from a Biblical perspective.”
Responding to Chinese Marriages
Some of the issues facing Chinese couples are specific to Chinese couples. For example, many marriages are still impacted by the one-child policy that existed for years.
“Most couples that we deal with have only one child, either one daughter or one son. What that means is that one child is doted on by six different individuals, two sets of grandparents and then mom and dad, so what you’re doing is you’re raising a little emperor or a little queen.”
Marriages become difficult because each spouse is used to being the only child. They fended for themselves and some were spoiled, so sharing life with another person and relying on one another can be a new concept.
In addition, many couples are getting used to living away from home.
“Most young people want to make a better living because there’s a lot of pressure put on children to take care of their parents, so if they live in a rural area, they’ll usually move to a larger city away from the parents to make a lot of money,” Burklin says.
This can stress relationships with parents. Furthermore, independence is expected much earlier.
“It’s not uncommon to see little five-year-olds holding hands and crossing a big, busy street on the way to school,” Burklin said. “Especially in the countryside, you see that all the time.”
In China, the idea of parents dropping their children at school would seem foreign and strange.
The Core of the Problem
Burklin says that in China or anywhere else, most relationship problems come down to selfishness. One pastor he knows says “all selfishness is sin and all sin is selfishness,” and China Partner’s training considers that.
The solution? Learning how to serve and love a spouse unconditionally. In all of their training, whether leadership, marriage, or small group training, Burklin says it comes down to learning how to repair relationships. That’s why Jesus came, isn’t it?
“Pray for wisdom, especially for the young people who are being trained right now to become pastors, that God would give them strength, keep them faithful, keep them strong in the Word, allow them to be good communicators of the Gospel, be good role models as they get married to their spouses, and be good family members so that these things can be a good testimony to their country.”
Header photo courtesy of China Partner.