It was grey and drizzly that day in March of 2020. I was holding my 3-year-old’s hand and wearing my baby as other parents swarmed outside the elementary school, waiting to pick up our kids. Swirling rumors had solidified: due to spreading Covid, our school, like others across the nation and eventually the world, was shutting down.
The apocalyptic scene will probably be burned in my mind for the rest of my life. On that dreary Friday, I realized my husband and I were ultimately responsible for learning within our family. Since then, a confluence of circumstances (not merely Covid) led me to begin homeschooling.
This month China Partnership has intentionally prayed for “learning” in the church in China. Over the last two and a half years, this topic has been at the forefront of my mind. While learning is more than formal education, it is not less. Learning also seems to be the topic over which many Chinese friends are spending the most time, energy, and concern. I am praying for learning for the church in China in three main areas: childhood education, structured theological education, and evangelism and discipleship among students in China and abroad.
I began formally homeschooling a year ago, which has inspired me to understand the educational choices others make for their families. I do not believe homeschooling is God’s call to all believers, but I have become curious why so many Chinese brothers and sisters are going to great lengths to pursue a Christian education for their kids.
I recently exchanged messages with a dear friend in China who is also homeschooling. She said belief in God has helped her and her husband understand that good education is not being crammed with more knowledge – instead, it is having fellowship with and loving different kinds of people in their own areas of strength. She desires to weave learning and faith together as a whole, teaching her kids to know God and to use his words as the basis for their worldview. She does not want an atheistic education, like the one she received, for the next generation.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
This beautiful vision comes with a steep cost. For many Chinese families, that price includes visits from government officials, intimidation, threats, lack of job security for parents, and an uncertain future. When I pray for learning, I pray for my friend and the many thousands of families like hers seeking to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. May God protect these families, guide them, and give them wisdom as they make difficult decisions and painfully count the cost.
I also prayed for theological education. Due to the growth of the church over the last decades and political reasons influencing the theological education available within Mainland, this is an area of great need for the Chinese church. It is also an area of great promise, as Chinese have the chance to integrate intellect and application in a way that is not typically done in Western seminaries.
This month Sister Xu, a sister in a Chengdu church, shared her reflections on how formal theological education has blessed her life and ministry over the last year. As she has come to understand how God has moved throughout human history, she has also fine-tuned her own spiritual radar and begun to taste the grace and love of the Lord in a new way.
The Chinese church is in desperate need of lay leaders and full-time Christian laborers who have depth of training and understanding. I pray more and more churches across China are able to offer their people opportunities to deepen their learning so they may come to know and love the Lord more.
Chinese Students at Home and Abroad
One month ago, our family welcomed some long-time Chinese friends to the States as the husband began graduate studies here. Our friends are believers, and are eagerly hoping to join a local congregation. Their arrival reminded me to pray for Chinese students to come to know Christ – both within China and overseas.
As the new school year begins, students are arriving at their campuses, settling in, and trying to figure out how to begin a new life. As they devote years to intellectual exploration and preparation for their long-term future, many will also be open to exploring questions of faith and the meaning of life. Ministry to Chinese college students faces many obstacles these days, and is an area in desperate need of prayer. Within China, many campuses are not open to outsiders, and students are inaccessible and hard to get to know. Even overseas, the Chinese student circle can often feel like an unwelcoming and closed-off group.
Pray that God will open doors and make a way for more students to hear of his love and mercy. Pray for those seeking to reach college students to have creativity, authenticity, and above all a spirit of discernment. May God reach those he is calling, and may more and more students come to know his love.
E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for God’s guidance on Christian education, for more opportunities for theological education, and for Chinese students to come to know and follow him during their time in school