Last month seven members* from UPPC traveled to Shanghai, Suzhou, and Nanjing, China to witness the work God is doing through the church in Jiangsu province and to discern how God might be calling UPPC to participate. We entered the country with humility and openness to see what God had in store, and left filled with wonder over the great work that God has done and continues to do in China.
In Jiangsu Province alone, there are 2.4 million Christians, 4600 churches and only 370 pastors. Each pastor is responsible for an average of 8000 members. Not only that, but roughly 120,000 new Christians are baptized every year. These statistics present a staggering challenge for the church in China – how does the church adequately disciple and care for its members when the leaders are so few? The answer – mobilize as many resources as possible into training leaders (lay or paid). And, this is where UPPC can come alongside to help…
The churches in Jiangsu Province, particularly in Suzhou, want to learn from churches in the U.S. They want to learn about what we do, how we do it and why. They also want our help in training some of their new leaders. But, this isn’t just a one-way mission ministry. There is much that we can learn from them, as well.
If our experience in China could be summarized in one verse, it would be John 1: 5 (MSG): “The life-light blazed out of the darkness – the darkness could not put it out.” God’s work in China is palatable and transformative to all those who witness it. The joy and enthusiasm that Chinese Christians have for the gospel is awe inspiring. The church in China has the opportunity to awaken us from our slumber; to remind us once again what it means to holistically live out the gospel, and to help us rethink how to be relevant in our changing context.
We are thrilled to come back from our trip with several opportunities for UPPC to engage with churches in Suzhou and Jiangsu province that will be mutually beneficial.
- Serve at an English Summer Camp offered by Suzhou churches.
- Participate in various cultural exchange workshops, with the first focused on music and arts.
- “Adopt” a seminary student or ministry in China to pray for.
- Host several pastors from Jiangsu province in October 2017.
- Provide short term lay leader training in China (tentative).
We will share more information about these opportunities, as details are finalized. We are thankful to be a part of this exciting venture and are eager to see what becomes of UPPC’s partnership with churches in China as it grows and evolves over the years to come.
*The UPPC members who traveled to China in October 2016 were Pastor Aaron Stewart, Jenny Stewart, Lisa Woicik, Zoe Pearson, Jim and Christy Lineweaver, and Suzanne Freeborn.