China (MNN) — Regulations keep rolling in for the Chinese Church, and things are getting tense. But they weren’t always like that. This fall, China Partner spent several weeks providing leadership training, leading marriage seminars, and exploring new facilities at the Jiangxi Bible school in Nanchang.
China Partner’s Erik Burklin led the team.
“In spite of some of the religious regulations that the government has been imposing on the country and some of the control issues [facing] all the people in China, we actually had quite a few open doors to be able to partner with our Chinese brothers and sisters,” he said.
Part of the smoothness of China Partner’s trip is a result of the believers they work with.
“We work with the registered Church that is legally recognized in China,” Burklin said. “We’re not doing anything illegal in China, and the government has always appreciated that about China Partner.”
While Burklin was in China, they were introduced to the concepts of “hardware and software” by local believers.
“Software basically means to invest in people and in helping equip them to become pastors and Church leaders, and hardware would be anything related to building a building or facilities for that,” he said.
The facilities Burklin and his team visited wouldn’t have existed without China Partner’s involvement, and they also find their roots in the Burklin family’s legacy.
“Nanchang was one of the cities where my grandparents ministered many, many years ago, and it’s also the city where China Partner has raised thousands of dollars to build a Bible school.,” Burklin said.
Now, on this most recent trip, China Partner was able to oversee the opening of a new library facility. Several years ago, the organization was present for a groundbreaking ceremony and contributed a significant donation toward the facility’s construction.
“For many years, nothing happened, and we were somewhat disappointed. We had no idea that God was going to have this project come to fruition, and that happened this last year. They were very proud to send us pictures immediately after the facility was finished.”
Some of the complications came from government building regulations. The Bible school didn’t get permission to build a brand new building, but they were allowed to add an addition to an existing structure. The new facility is multipurpose and can be used as a lecture hall, classrooms, a library, or a chapel. Burklin even preached there when his team visited. Thanks to patience and creativity, the school got something more useful than what they originally intended, followed the government’s specifications, and saved a lot of money in the process.
Burklin is hoping the new library and its accessible books and computers will be an asset to the local community.
“Many people in China still don’t know how to read, especially in the countryside, but many of the young people go to school, and the education level is rising all over China,” Burklin said. “It makes a huge impact on the local community there and, specifically, on the Bible students who will become the future pastors in that province.”
The Bible school can help equip pastors-in-training and allow them to have more thorough studies, thus having “a huge impact on Christian growth in that province.” But that’s not the only spiritual impact Burklin’s team made during their trip.
“[We] 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. Local believers appreciated the training so much that they asked China Partner to return to provide more training later on.
As they face more and more restrictions, pray for Chinese Christians bravely continuing their ministry.
“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.”
Burklin says regardless of leadership, pray that Christians will stay strong and respectful. He says God has promised that the Church won’t fall, and “No matter what we face and no matter what the Chinese Church faces, the Church will continue to grow, and the Church there knows it and continues to act on it, which makes it very exciting to partner with them as China Partner.”
Header photo courtesy of China Partner.