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Building a Biblical foundation in China

For four years “Bingwen” has served the Chinese Church as an itinerant preacher, ministering to congregations across nine provinces. He is just one of the Chinese church leaders studying with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life (OCRPL), the academic branch of Barnabas Aid.

In China, as in many other lands, there are few opportunities to undertake pastoral and theological study. Those opportunities that do exist can be prohibitively expensive, sometimes amounting to thousands of pounds per year. Even theological books and Bible commentaries are hard to find.

The need is great. Many Chinese churches lack trained pastors, ministers or lay leaders who can serve and disciple the Lord’s people.

OCRPL provides formal training at low cost, thanks to the generous donations of our supporters and the use of online teaching. There are currently ten church leaders from China amongst OCRPL’s student body – three undertaking a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree and seven a Master of Ministry (MMin) degree. God willing, 30 undergraduate students will be added in October 2022.

Bingwen is one of the DMin students. His research focuses on comparing different Bible translations, both English and Chinese, and exploring the benefits of using multiple Bible versions to gain a fuller and deeper understanding of God’s Word.

Bingwen experienced the love of God following some dark and difficult times. Growing up in a non-Christian family, he suffered first the death of his grandparents, then his father. The grief was compounded by the financial difficulties faced by Bingwen and his mother, who struggled with irregular employment and chronic illness.

It was when things looked most dark that God reached out. Bingwen’s mother was admitted to hospital and came close to death. At this time some Christians shared with Bingwen the eternal hope found in the Gospel of Christ. Both he and his mother accepted Christ, and she experienced an almost miraculous recovery from illness. On their first day attending church after she was discharged, the sermon was based on Psalm 68:5 – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

Now with a wife and young son, as well as responsibility for his mother’s medical bills, Bingwen felt God call him to leave his employment and take up his full-time ministry, despite the financial risks. He and his wife now support themselves by doing laundry for other families.

The training of leaders such as Bingwen is intended to strengthen the Church in China in several ways. Lay church leaders will be equipped to serve the flock and build a strong Biblical foundation for the Church.

Their training will assist them to correct the false doctrines and heresies that can so easily take root, especially via the internet and social media, in a context where Christians often find solid, Bible-based teaching difficult to come by.

In turn, Church leaders will train others, equipping more believers for ministry and service as the Church continues to grow.

At this time some Christians shared with Bingwen the eternal hope found in the Gospel of Christ. Both he and his mother accepted Christ, and she experienced an almost miraculous recovery from illness.

Project reference Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life 64-1118

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