The Leadership Riddle

Just read a report that says that the ratio of Christian workers to church attenders in our province is 1:10,000! The need for workers here is absolutely unbelievable! When I preached at the underground church on Sunday, my translator, J., told me, as many others have told me already, that the biggest need in China is training for laborers. J. told me that he had gone to a city many hours away to study at a house seminary for two years. There were only twenty students at this reformed seminary. Several of his teachers were foreigners (from other countries in Southeast Asia); a couple of them have since been expelled from China.

The eighteen Three Self seminaries are hardly up to par, both with the liberal theology that they teach, and also with the number of students that they allow to enroll. Tony Lambert’s “China’s Christian Millions” says that in all of China in 1999, there were only 1,200 students in full-time ministry training. Very bleak for the largest nation in the world. The limited number of spaces at the TSPM seminaries are hotly pursued; one seminary reports fifty applicants turned away for every one that they accept! Theology at the TSPM seminaries varies, but as a general rule, they adhere to their seminaries’ stated goal: to train “people who love the Fatherland, accept the leadership of the Party and the government, resolutely follow the socialist road and have religious learning” – in that order. Still, there are many who proudly point to the Three Self Movement and proclaim the religious liberty and freedom of China. I’ll take time in another post someday to talk more about their characteristics and the manifestations of the government control.

Last night, I studied Acts 13 with A. He was so curious about Paul and Barnabus being separated to fulfill the Great Commission. Pray for the next generation of Chinese leadership! What if God truly wanted to raise up an army of Chinese Christian leaders? Where would they go for training? Who would mentor them? What if God wanted you to train them? These are the questions that we must begin to ask ourselves if we are serious about making an impact in China.

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