China (MNN) — 10 years ago, there were 1,000 Christians in the prefecture-level city of Yibin. In 2011, there are 4,000.
The church in China has been booming over the last few years, and Yibin area churches (located in the southern Sichuan Province of China) are no exception. When Yibin Church's Reverend Zhou first came to the area 16 years ago, only two churches existed in the area. Now there are 18.
Reverend Zhou's church averages about 200 people per Sunday, over 110 new believers were baptized last year alone. Clearly God is moving, but Zhou believes that an even greater revival is yet to come.
Currently China Partner is conducting training in Yibin for 50 lay pastors in rural surrounding areas. It's been only about eight months since China Partner's last visit, but they were so well received then thatReverend Zhou asked that they return quickly.
China Partner president Erik Burklin is in China for the training. In a recent interview, Zhou told Burklin that although the last time trainees had a little trouble following through on what they had learned, they are all now ready for change.
"This time there are people reflecting to me saying, ‘We ought to get into action. We ought to do what was taught,'" said Zhou.
He added that with "the partnership between some of the overseas organizations, and also with our effort together, I think–say, for example, in the next 10 years–there is going to be a revival."
Zhou said revival is possible because of a relatively good (in comparison to times past) religious policy in China at present. Beyond that, though, he listed the major needs in Yibin as the training and shepherding of leaders, as well as the need for volunteer workers.
China Partner is taking care of the first need as best they can. Their tried and true training methods have successful taught hundreds of lay pastors who do not have the means to attend seminary, or who simply want extra training.
The second need, however, could potentially involve you.
"During the cultural revolution era, many churches were damaged or destroyed. So as far as getting the church buildings back to a working situation, this area can use some help," noted Zhou. A couple of buildings are already in construction, but more hands are needed to speed up the process.
Zhou welcomes brothers and sisters in Christ to come to China, but foreign organizations or churches could also just help to finance a church building. Either could be a huge blessing to rapidly growing churches in China. Your help could be the extra push needed to move the region into full fledged revival.
If you're interested in helping with the Yibin region by sponsoring a church or possibly even going to China, contact China Partner at their Web site.