Becoming All that God Has Made Us to Be, Part 2

Editor’s note: During the course of the CP Conference 2016, we had the opportunity to interview a variety of attendees and hear from their experiences. The following interview is with Jeanette Thomas, Pastor of Extension Ministries at Christ Community Church in Kansas City. Christ Community has been a substantial partner of CP and Jeanette’s thoughts on the church’s ministry vision and values are both a challenging and encouraging example of what CP hopes to see among American churches desiring to impact China. Make sure you also check out the first part of this interview. 

Why did you come to the CP conference and what did you hope to get out of it?

Maybe it goes without saying after having run through our values and vision, but we believe there is something really beautiful about brothers and sisters from diverse backgrounds dwelling in beauty together and loving one another. So we look for spaces to be together with our partners. I think the China Partnership annual gathering has increasingly been a place where we can share that space together. Again, in our partnership work we try to spend time with our partners, at least annually. Physically being present. We love to host them and we’re happy to visit, too, and be hosted. But we like for there to be a leadership connection with physical presence once a year if we can figure out a way to do that. And so that’s really fun.

In this case, this past year, it was especially fun because as we have continued to refine some of our strategy, we had more specific leaders in mind who we are planning to continue deepening in partnership and with ministry amongst Chinese generally. And so it was really fun to get to be there alongside my colleagues who were really interested in both being introduced and getting to see some of the relational connections that happen – more so than any other past year. And then also just really being in a place to pray about and discern our next steps. We’re in such an infant space in terms of our own implementation of our strategy. As we think about the new day that it is for the China Partnership entering into its own organizational formality, and both this stateside and China-side coming together increasingly, and that it was the first time that we had so much teaching from our brothers and sisters in China – that was just delightful for us. I mean, I absolutely loved it. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was like cake to get to come and hear from them. We came for all those reasons – so we could be with them, so that we could specifically continue working out and mapping out our strategic next steps with the China Partnership, and fellowship and prayer and all that.

What is something you learned during the conference or was a new insight that you gained?

I think there is just something so powerful about hearing a testimony from someone in another context when they testify to the grace of God and the kind of scandal of the gospel. There is something about hearing someone from another context discovering that again that freshens it for me. And also kind of exhorts me to ask how have I been taking this for granted? Or how have I been missing the gospel and trying to lead in my own strength or sort of earning God’s favor? Sometimes when we hear testimonies from our own context, maybe we’re just not listening as intently, or we share too much space in ways that don’t let us hear it as fresh. I don’t know, but for me there is something that always happens for me when there are just core fundamentals of the faith that are really alive and fresh in ways that they never would be without that testimony from a different context. So that was something that just always happens and that was really alive for me.

How have you seen God working in China?

I just continue to see, and I think we were reflecting on this throughout the conference, but I continue to see the maturation not only of individual believers in China, but also of their own churches and networks, their own theology, and theological voice and perspective. I just continue to watch that develop. And when I say watch it develop, I mean that some of it is not necessarily new growth or new development in China, but it’s my new awareness. But broadly speaking, I do think there has been the maturation of not only individual believers, but specifically their theological contributions, their own leadership in the church. So watching that has just been really awesome for me to see.

What would you say is the one, big thing that you pray for China the most?

What do I pray for most? This goes back to some time that I spent on the ground just listening to brothers and sisters in China, but I remember that one thing there has been a need for are people who can do good liaison and bridge work between networks, and also between the unregistered church and more free flowing social sector work. I pray quite a lot for people that would be unique mobilizers in China. Because that’s not just something you can “get.”


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I pray for people who God will raise up who can have a vision for some of that bridging and mobilizing work that spans some of the gaps. I think there are some unique challenges relative to the historical context and the persecution of the church. Different brothers and sisters in China have shared with me some of the gaps they feel in those places, and for whatever reason this latched in my heart a little more deeply. Such people have to have a real respect for their own contexts, and their faith tradition, and the legacy and community they come from – and all kinds of loyalty. But they also have to have a sense that there is some real beauty in coming together with others from other rich legacies, and also that there is some real beauty in connecting broadly with the social sector who maybe wouldn’t have a faith anchor. But the church could help them anchor so deeply because of the gospel. So personally that is something I pray quite a lot for.

Last question – if there is one thing you wish the American church understood about the Chinese church, what would it be?

Honestly, I probably wish for the American church to know the same thing about the church globally anywhere. And that is just that, you know, America doesn’t have the corner on the market. I would want them to understand how tall the trees are for us to learn and grow from, how rich the different contexts are. Or I’ll say it this way – how rich the gospel is as it plays out in different contexts. I guess I would want a really deep reverence for how God is working and a deep respect for all that we have to learn from and be shaped by, even as we also contribute!

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Loving People Through Prayer
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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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Stories from Shenzhen

About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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