September 8th, 2014

What’s the Needs of the Church in China?

Jim has been coming in to Guangzhou, China every 3 months or so to lead a few groups through CRM’s Focusing Leaders curriculum. He comes for two or more weeks at a time for teaching and coaching participants. He is partnering with another coach from a Christian organisation who has vast influence serving the leaders of churches in China for more than 30 years. This partner facilitator is talking with us about joining CRM staff. He loves what we do.

You see, the current urgent need of the church in China is for building up spiritual, godly leadership. Not Bibles. Not theological training. Not even resources for specialized ministries like marriages and family or youth. What China’s spiritual leaders are still dangerously lacking is maturity and godliness, which can’t be taught in a course or with a book or a DVD. Chinese leaders need godly mentors and role models. When Jim starts these groups it’s with the intent of multiplying. He tells these men who are asking him to be their “spiritual father” that he is not merely coming to mentor them, but to build them up to also be mentors. The multiplication of his efforts in Asia has been slow. He is weary of doing these groups over and over again. Since 2001 he started in Singapore, then China, then Philippines and Vietnam, with few national leaders stepping in to also be mentors and the ministry multiplying in any of these countries. Perhaps this Asian partner will be a catalyst for figuring out how multiplication will work in Asian contexts.

Until now, I’ve not joined him on these trips to China because, frankly, I’ve felt the costs to go to China are prohibitive. The single entry visa for an American is over $250 US dollars! And then we add to that airfare, and hotels, and meals. The cost is less than most summer mission trips outside North America; we’re traveling from a nearby Singapore and not USA, and the two star hotel costs are reasonable. However, I have been loathe to spend that exorbitant amount for a visa for me to come along just to be his moral support and a sidekick.

But this trip last May might be my last chance to come. So I made arrangements to join Jim and see what help I might be. The Chinese coordinator was so happy that Jim’s wife was coming that he apparently told the women that I was a counselor and would meet with the individually.

The Chinese coordinator of the men’s mentoring group had told the couples that I was a counselor and would meet with the gals individually if they came along this time. I’m not a counselor, and don’t do a very good job counseling, even in English. I don’t have much of any mercy or discernment spiritual gifts. I often I find myself putting my proverbial foot in my mouth when I try. 

I’ve taken the CORE coaching training, and though not ICF certified, I have become a better listener. In recent years I have been more willing to put myself in daring situations that require faith to navigate. I can see signs that I am finally getting a little more mature in my 50’s. This experience “counselling” the pastors wives in Guangzhou have shown me that my spiritual ears are better now at hearing the voice of God to guide me when I’m in the dark. 

And that’s where I was as I counselled these young Chinese pastor’s wives without a translator. In the dark!


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