BEIJING, China – During the Holy Week, a group of third and fourth-year students from Yanjing Seminary were out preaching in various churches in Beijing. It is an annual practice by the regional seminary to expose their senior students, who have been taught Biblical Studies, to preaching in churches. Song Yu, 27, who comes from Lanzhou, Gansu province, was one of them.
“I understand that after the Cultural Revolution, it was common that there were some self-professing, well-intentioned preachers who went around teaching incorrect doctrines because they have not been trained. So it’s important to be equipped and have sound doctrine,” said Song Yu. (Photo: Song Yu, at the Yanjing Seminary BRR)
Keeping abreast in learning
For Song, one of the ways to be equipped is spending time at the seminary library. In fact, he serves as a student librarian and was heavily involved in helping to set up the Bible Resource Room (BRR). BRR is a Bible resource funded by donors from the United Bible Societies (UBS). These Bible resources include hard copies books as well as Bible software, furniture and fittings. “We appreciate very much the new resources provided by UBS. These resources keep us in touch with more current development in scholarly Biblical research.”
The BRR in Yanjing Seminary is one of the five BRR in the regional seminaries established with the support of UBS. The other four are: Huadong Seminary (Shanghai), Dongbei Seminary (Liaoning Province), Zhongnan Seminary (Hubei Province) and Sichuan Seminary. These five regional seminaries serve North, East, Northeast and South-central and Southwest China respectively. Besides regional seminaries, UBS has also helped to set up BRR at provincial seminaries including Jiangsu, Fujian, Guizhou, Heilongjiang and Hunan.
Bible resources create interest, speed things up
Another beneficiary is Pi Minghui, 41, a third-year student at Jiangsu Seminary. “I really appreciate the resources at the BRR as they stir up my interest to go deeper in my study of the Bible and help equip me in my home church ministry. My sermons now have more depth. It is no longer just based on my own suppositions.”
Not only do students find the hard copy books useful, they are also benefitting from Bible software like Almega. “I use Almega for research on historical background and geographical setting of the Bible. It makes researching very convenient and each Bible passage I study leaves a deeper impression now,” shared Sun Haijian, 29, who studies at Jiangsu Seminary. Sun holds a degree in culinary and worked as a chef previously.
“I find the features of the Bible software very helpful. It not only helps me to save time but also in searching accurately the content I need. When preparing for sermons, the resources at the BRR has become part of my inspiration,” said Ren Feiqing, a second-year student at Huadong Seminary at Shanghai with a burden for youth ministry.
The effect of these Bible resources is not only limited to the students and faculty of the seminaries. “Estimated thousands more will benefit when these students teach or preach at their churches and as the faculty continues to teach each new batch of students. Some might become researchers and scholars who would contribute to the scholarly work in the Chinese context. The influence is deep, far and wide,” explained Ellyn Chan, the UBS China Partnership program manager of BRR.
Indeed, these students are looking forward to applying what they had learnt at the seminaries to their churches, where pastors and preachers are in dire need. In China, the national average ratio of pastors to believers is 1:6200.
“In the district I come from, there are only two pastors, one lay preacher, and a few elders. They serve tens of thousands of believers in 128 churches and meeting points. One of the pastors is already 86. My church, which has about 1000 members, does not have a pastor. We rely totally on lay preachers and invited speakers,” said Pi Minghui who left her accounting job of 20 years to enter into full-time ministry. She comes from Pukou district where she goes back every weekend to serve in the church and spend time with her husband and 13-year old daughter.
Song Yu added, “There is an increase in young believers in Lanzhou these days. Churches located near the universities are seeing more young people coming to the church. There’s a revival and I am excited to use what I have learned to guide and teach them!”
It is our prayer that when these students leave their seminaries, God would use the BRR to have a lasting impact on their lives and the lives of those they minister to.
Story: Cynthia Oh
Interview and Photo: Ellyn Chan
Edit: Pamela Choo
2016 © United Bible Societies China Partnership