Like the Power of Water

Editor’s Note: This August, we have been praying for the area of learning for the church in China. Sister Xu has spent the last year in systematic theological study, and speaks eloquently of how intentional and devoted study changed her and her relationship with God and others.

While theological education is not the only type of learning Chinese Christians are pursuing, it is an important area which CP has covered extensively in the past. This reflection gives an important window into the impact on-the-ground theological learning is having on modern Chinese believers as it shapes their worldview and outlook.


Thank you to all the pastors and colleagues for their leadership and hard work this year. It is a miracle I actually graduated; last year, when I was about a third of the way through the course, I was struggling and suffering. I felt I had overestimated myself, and wanted to give up.

But God shows his power and strength when we fall and when we are weak. After I prayed, God himself led me forward with determination. That is why we are so joyful today. I would like to share four aspects of what I have gained through my studies: a renewal of knowledge; a change of life; a methodical reflection on evangelism; and finally, spiritual transformation.

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“Through these courses I have come to realize theology is actually study, reflection, and response to the message God has revealed.

Renewal of Knowledge in the Faith

This course lasted one year. During that time, we covered the Old and New Testaments, the creeds, and biblical theology. Taking this course was like taking an aerial photo of the Bible, as our eyes were guided by the Holy Spirit. Yet at the same time, we also had an in-depth introduction to the Pentateuch and the Gospels. We saw not only the forest, but also the trees. This strengthened the foundation of our faith.


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The Bible is God’s word, the absolute truth, and is God’s message to humanity. Our faith is and must be based only on Scripture. I realized even more how important the Bible is as a divine instrument given to us by God. The world we see through the Bible is completely different from the world we see with our blind eyes. In front of this divine, God-given instrument, lies have no place to hide.

These classes have also given me a new perspective on theology. I always thought theology was the study and reflection of God. But through these courses I have come to realize theology is actually study, reflection, and response to the message God has revealed. Research and reflection are important, but response is also imperative. There is no way for us to actively think about God except through his own willingness to become an object of our thought. We also have no way to directly study God, because he is completely beyond the reach of our reason. The only thing we can do is respond to him in faith after we have received his self-revelation in the Bible!

Life Change

It is clear to me God has shaped my worldview through this year of study. This is a wonderful feeling. The silent power of these courses is like the power of water, which gently washes over a piece of rock, and slowly changes its shape over time.

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“The silent power of these courses is like the power of water, which gently washes over a piece of rock, and slowly changes its shape over time.

In particular, certain lessons on early history left such a deep impression on me that I felt as though I experienced a visible change in my vision. Suddenly I was able to see the world from a higher dimension. It was as if I had grown eyes in both the front and the back. The greatest miracle in a believer is a changed life.

Methods of Evangelism

I came to faith more than a decade ago, but this was the first time I systematically studied theology. These courses not only showed me the beauty of biblical theology; they also helped me build a Reformed theological perspective. As you know, evangelism is for all kinds of people: both the godless and the godly. Every person has their own preexisting, position, whether that is godly or ungodly. Evangelism is preaching God’s glory, manifest in the salvation of man through Jesus Christ. But it is more than that. It is also a way to express our theological positions to the other person.

Because I have experience in Three-Self churches, broadly evangelical churches, and also in Baptist churches, I was confused and uncertain when it came to theological views and positions. This created great confusion in the process of evangelism. If a seeker had questions because they received different messages from different denominations, I felt very powerless. Many of their questions were actually the same questions I struggled with. It was impossible to give them answers when I myself had none.

But about halfway through these theology classes, I realized I now had a comprehensive and solid theological perspective. This made evangelism much easier, and many questions which seekers asked became simpler for me to answer. God used this new perspective he had given me to help me help others. As seekers slowly followed and reflected on my words, they were able to carve a new path in the midst of their confusion. This experience was as exciting to me as Columbus’s discovery of the New World, because I discovered how God was using me as a conduit.

Spiritual Growth

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“When I became a Christian, it is as if God turned my radar on again…God constantly makes adjustments to this radar, correcting my thoughts, actions, and emotions. These courses have been one of the ways God has adjusted my radar.

If we compare spirituality to a radar placed by God in the human soul, then God turned the radar off when he expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they sinned. But when I became a Christian, it is as if God turned my radar on again. As my spiritual radar scans the range of input coming from the kingdom of heaven, it takes in both small and large information. I am beginning to understand what he has done in human history, both the simple and the deep. As time goes on, God constantly makes adjustments to this radar, correcting my thoughts, actions, and emotions. These courses have been one of the ways God has adjusted my radar.

According to God’s timing, at some point our spirituality will break through the bottleneck and make a great leap. God leads each person differently, and the experience is very personal to each of us. I so hope everyone will taste the Lord’s grace and have the same surprise I had. Give God time, and he will surprise you.

Again, I thank God for the way he prepares all things. I also thank his servants, who worked so hard to lead this course. I look forward to growing together with more brothers and sisters in the year to come.


Sister Xu is a pseudonym for a Chinese believer who lives in the Chengdu area. Sister Xu is a member of Early Rain Covenant Church.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for more Chinese believers to have opportunities to engage in systematic study of God, so they may come to know and love him more.

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Further Reading

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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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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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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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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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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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