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A famous technology CEO said Chinese students "must return to China before it is to late!" if they want to start their own businesses. It is still beneficial for Chinese students to get an American education but the advantages are getting fewer every day. The new crop of successful Chinese entrepreneurs is by and large not foreign-educated. Let us pray for those who have accepted Jesus while they were studying abroad and are deciding whether to return to China or stay abroad. The choice is difficult to make. We pray especially for those who want to return to be able to use their profession as a way of sharing Jesus or helping churches in China.
This year another Chinese received the Nobel Prize. The education and training of a Nobel Prize winner is always closely scrutinized and technically none of the Chinese laureates so far has been granted to a person who took his/her higher education or did research in China. Historically, most of the Chinese theologians and seminary teachers are also educated abroad. Chinese seminaries are totally occupied in the training of students and faculties have little time for anything else. Let us pray for all those who are involved in teaching and training those preparing to serve the churches. May the Lord give each of them the heart of both a scholar and a shepherd.
After the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970's millions of high school students and young intellectuals were sent to the countryside to be reformed. Those young people from the cities who were of a marriageable age were told to marry the farmers and settle on the farms where they were serving. A great majority of those marriages ended in divorce. Couples cite irreconcilable differences as the most common reason for divorce and we know that many Christian couples struggle with this problem also. It is never easy to practice the love we find in 1 Corinthians 13 but let us remember to pray for the marriages of all believers, especially those that are on the verge of divorce.
How do students from Mainland China measure up against students from Taiwan? According to an expert, Taiwan still has an advantage in the educational process with more experience in training talented students. However, he also says that students from Taiwan do not work so hard and have less drive than their Mainland counterparts. A similar comparison can be made between Bible school students in the two places. Let us pray for all those who are in various stages of training for church ministry. People are always amazed at how well the Mainland students can recite Bible passages. May the Lord mold their characters, shape their personalities, and conform them to be more like Christ Himself.
In China it is not uncommon to see one pastor shepherd multiple congregations. Such disparity in the pastor/member ratio creates a situation where pastors are unable to meaningfully care for the needs of belivers. Pastors are extremely busy because they have the responsibility of administration (paying utilities, rent, and other expenses) for multiple meeting sites. A common problem for many churches is the lack of a team of co-workers since many churches are run in a very centralized and closed fashion. Let us pray for all the churches as they seek to find people who are willing to commit to and build up the leadership team.
To impove both the quantity and quality of pastors is one of the biggest challenges of churches in China. Many have answered the call but lack systematic theological training. Many also lack the concept of how to properly minister to the congregation so these are sent out to do a task that is very demanding and for which they are inadequately equipped. We must continue to beseech the Lord to strengthen the shepherds and send out more workers. In the mean time we are committed to pray for those who badly need encouragement refreshing and equipping. We pray, too, that their sheep will empathize with them and be appreciative of their pastors instead of being critical and demanding.
Frankly speaking, house church pastors in China get most of their training in Biblical knowledge so they are able to preach effectively and Biblically but we know that ministry is far more than preaching on Sunday. It also includes prayer, visitation, counseling, and discipleship to help the believers hone their spiritual gifts. The fact is, however, that pastors in China can focus only on preaching because many of them have to have another job to support themselves. We take this time to pray for all the workers who must balance their income-producing jobswith their service in the church along with family life. May the Lord give them insight and wisdom as they prepare to feed the hungry sheep.