LITTLETON, CO – While China Partner celebrates 30 years of ministry, the country is, once again, undergoing dramatic changes. As they have in the past, Chinese Christians are learning to stand firm in their faith and be willing to trust the Lord in every circumstance. China Partner is there to help them.
Erik Burklin is the leader of the current China Partner ministry. His grandparents had been German missionaries to China under the auspices of China Inland Mission until 1950 when all foreign missionaries were deported by the nascent Chinese Communist Party. Erik’s father, Werner, was actually born in Wuhu, China, in 1930.
During the Cultural Revolution, Christians were persecuted, and churches were closed. Chinese Christians had no choice but to meet clandestinely.
When China opened its borders once again in 1981, Erik’s father, now 51 years old, visited the country many times over the next decade to observe the conditions first-hand. Much of that time was spent meeting with government officials as well as Christian leaders to explain his goals and gain their trust – something that was in short supply.
Werner discovered that the greatest need at the time was training and equipping pastors and other Christian leaders. China Partner’s first Pastoral Training Seminar was conducted in Nanjing and, eventually, in strategic places throughout the country.
By the end of the 90s, the Jiangxi Bible School had been constructed with the aid and participation of the China Partner team.
Over the past decade, China Partner has:
- Held over 144 Pastoral Training Seminars in 42 different locations,
- Trained more than 12,000 pastors and Christian leaders, and
- Distributed more than 72,000 Bible study books.
Despite persecution from the Chinese Communist Party, there are an estimated 80 million Christians among the native Chinese. In 1950, there were about 700,000.
While we most certainly pray for Chinese Christians to remain steadfast in their faith while their churches are being destroyed and their leaders are being imprisoned, China Partner says that one of the greatest challenges for pastors in China is burnout.
Not losing face is a major thrust of the Chinese culture. Christian pastors tend to overwork themselves in the honor/ shame culture. Losing face brings shame upon their families as well as themselves. Consequently, they often have a difficult time maintaining a healthy balance between family and ministry. Burklin explained, “Every time we communicate with them, we notice the major stress that they are under.”
Continued government crackdowns on evangelical churches are going to make life more difficult for pastors and laypeople. In many cases, they are being put under extreme pressure to deny Christ. Pray that the Lord will enable China Partners to remain in the country and empower them to encourage Chinese Christians to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.
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