JIANGSU, China – China is facing a big shortage of pastors and preachers. Take Rev Xu Fei (left) and Rev Luo Peisheng for example. Both hail from Yancheng city of Jiangsu, where they have been serving as pastors for seven and eight years respectively. Rev Xu is one of five pastors overseeing 50,000 believers in the Xiang Shui County, while Rev Luo is one of five pastors overseeing 100,000 believers in the She Yang County. The ratio is one pastor to 20,000 believers for Rev Luo. One can imagine how busy these pastors must be.
While the needs of shepherding are enormous, what is equally if not more important is shepherding the shepherds. For this purpose, Rev Xu and Luo were at the recent inaugural Pastors’ Bible Teaching Course held at Jiangsu Seminary, organized by Jiangsu Provincial Christian Council/TSPM and supported by United Bible Societies. A total of 45 participants, representing 14 counties across Jiangsu, spent one week, from 3-7 March, learning from Bishop John Chew who taught on Experiencing the Shepherd’s heart of Jesus from the Gospel of John and Canon Titus Chung, Looking at the Revelation of God from the Bible.
It was a rare get-together for these pastors, most of them with at least five years of experience in ministry. Special arrangements had to be made in their churches so that they could take leave from ministry and travel to Nanjing where Jiangsu Seminary is located. Despite the trouble, many of them treasure the opportunity to receive further training and rekindle the passion in discovering the Word anew.
Rev Xu said, “It is a rare luxury for us to pull ourselves away from ministry. There are always lots of work and no time to think about training or being “shepherded” but it is so needful that we as pastors should take a short retreat and recharge ourselves.” This is the first time Rev Xu has taken leave from ministry. Rev Luo added, “The past few days with the two teachers have broadened my perspective. There is much to reflect on.”
Another participant, Pastor Zhen Fangde of Lian Yun Gang, was very appreciative of what she had learned over the past few days. She felt the topics covered by both speakers complemented each other very well. Bishop Chew taught about what it means for Jesus to be a good shepherd and also ‘the Lamb’ while Canon Chung elaborated on how God reveals himself, in nature, in art, and the Word becoming flesh. Zhen said the sessions have broadened her horizon and have given her much food for thought.
Kua Wee Seng, UBS CP Director, said, “We are privileged to support and partner with Jiangsu CC/TSPM in their inaugural Pastors’ Bible Teaching Course. I’m so thankful to the Lord that UBS can contribute towards the Bible understanding and teaching of such influential pastors who will impact hundreds of thousands of believers throughout the Jiangsu Province. As Mr Gu Chuanyong, Jiangsu Religious Affairs Deputy Director-General, aptly expressed, “UBS has not only put the Bible into the hands of the people but also placed it in their hearts through such Bible teaching courses!”” Praise the Lord!
Story: Cynthia Oh
Photos and Interviews: Jock Foo
Edited: Angela Teo
2014 © United Bible Societies China Partnership