“These scholarly resources are wonderful gifts for the students,” smiled Liu Meichun, New Testament Professor and librarian at Nanjing Union Theological Seminary. “These are very expensive to buy and many of the students are being sponsored by their home churches, which are not wealthy.”
Ms Liu was speaking following a distribution by Bible Society visitors of New Testaments in the original Greek and the Old Testament in Hebrew. As part of their course at this, the crème de la crème of China’s theological seminaries, the students study Greek and Hebrew intensively.
The seminary in Nanjing has a four-year course and also offers a masters program, attracting the top theological students from across the country.
40 students a year
“We admit 40 students a year,” explains Ms Liu. “But in the fourth year, the top students from other seminaries join us, taking the fourth year class size up to 60. After that, 15 graduates can go on to do a masters degree here.”
“Having this Greek New Testament will greatly help me in my studies,” says Sun Tian Li, 25, who is in his second year and currently studying Greek.
“I plan to be ordained and when I return to my home church I will be in charge of management and home visiting and I will also preach.”
Zou Shu Xin, 32, a third year student from Jiling Province, was very pleased to receive her copy of the Old Testament in the original Hebrew.
“If you want to understand the New Testament you also need to understand the Old Testament,” she comments. She served at her church for seven years before coming to the seminary – hands-on experience that has stood her in good stead as she grapples with theological issues in her studies.
“Some people say I should become a seminary teacher but I love the church and want to get ordained and serve in a church,” she says.
Returns every holiday
Liu Xiao Feng, 23, is a third year student from Jiangsu province and is currently studying Greek. Her home church of 500 people are supporting her and she returns every holiday to preach and sing in the choir.
“My last sermon was on Elijah and Elisha,” she says. “I wanted them to experience God’s might in this story. Our church is growing because our members, most of whom are women, preach to their neighbours and invite them to services. We also put on special Christmas performances, which attract many people and our church is full at those times!”
By Andrea Rhodes, United Bible Societies