Busy Intellectuals: Interview with Shenyang Academics

Editor’s note: This interview with two Shenyang believers was originally published in 2019. Brother Li and Sister Cai are lay leaders in their church, which is made up of busy graduate students at one of Shenyang’s prestigious science institutes. Because they minister mainly to scientific intellectuals, finding time for both evangelism and discipleship are big challenges. They also find that many of their friends respect their faith, but personally reject it.

This is the first of a two-part series.


Pressed for Time

China Partnership: Can you briefly tell us about your church? 

Sister Li: We are from a house church in Shenyang. The church has been around about seven or eight years. Because the church began as a small group, it is difficult to pinpoint when the church itself officially started. In the beginning, a couple who were visiting scholars from the U.S. helped us lead the group. After they left, the person who later became our pastor arrived. He was graduating, and had just become a Christian then.

That was 2007, but our church did not begin in 2007. When the visiting scholars left, most people who came with the goal of learning English left as well. Only a few remained. They were true seekers. I think that was when our church slowly began to form.

CP: When did you commit to serve this church?

Brother Cai: We left our hometowns and came to Shenyang to study about five years ago. Since then, we have stayed at this church. The pastor almost views us as staff. We are able to sit in on church administrative meetings and share our suggestions.

We are all quite busy, and have little time to connect and fellowship with one another.

CP: What are some of the current challenges your church faces?

Brother Cai: I think we could do better in the area of evangelism. Most of the people in our church are working professionals, and the rest are studying in graduate school, with some of us getting our PhDs. We are all quite busy, and have little time to connect and fellowship with one another.

Because of pressure from work or studies, our challenge is mainly how to better fellowship with one another. We are also trying to spare effort on discipling others and sharing the gospel. We have no time for these things, and discipleship and evangelism can become pretty exhausting to do. In the same way, when we do go and share the gospel on the campuses here, those we are trying to do outreach to are also very busy people. It takes a lot of effort to invite them to a meal or to any activity. At times, it feels very difficult to be involved in these ministries, because we are always so pressed for time.


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CP: Do you have someone in mind, then, with whom you would like to share the gospel?

Brother Cai: Mostly my former schoolmates. They are people I try to stay in touch with. I have been sharing the gospel with them, but most of the time they respond by saying that they believe in science, because we all went to the same science institute.

These people would say that they respect what I believe. But, we are still continuing and developing these friendships.

It feels very difficult to be involved in these ministries, because we are always so pressed for time.

Sister Li: Right. Actually, ever since we joined our church, we have had many gospel activities. For the past few years, every year we have held Christmas and Easter events. We invite our former schoolmates, those we have known since our first year in grad school. We have kept developing our friendships with them, hoping to lead them to Christ, but the road is long.

So, our focus now is mainly on maintaining and building relationships. When we share the gospel, more often than not we get rejected. We can only take it slow and do our work little by little.

Hard Soil

CP: Have you succeeded at all? Have you seen anyone come to Christ so far?

Brother Cai: Not anyone from our research institute. There have been some people who approached us on their own and became Christians. She [referring to Sister Li] is a success story.

I sought out the church on my own. God was leading me to seek him when I first got here. I came to this church almost at the same time I became a believer. However, among those we have evangelized, so far none has come to faith and become a serious disciple.

Sister Li: Right. I sought out the church on my own. God was leading me to seek him when I first got here. I came to this church almost at the same time I became a believer. However, among those we have evangelized, so far none has come to faith and become a serious disciple.

CP: It sounds like you have been tilling hard soil. Can you share more about your context? What kind of research institute are you at? What is your field?

Sister Li: Our school is not like a regular university, where there is a large student body, and where students have relatively more free time for after-school activities. At our institute, we are all either master’s or PhD students. One thing to understand about our school is that everyone here is really stressed out. It is generally very difficult to invite people to any social activities.


Sister Li and Brother Cai are pseudonyms for two Chinese intellectuals based in Shenyang.

Pray for God to move in the hearts of Shenyang academics and lead them to seek him out for themselves.

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Further Reading

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Qingdao: How to Pray
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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Qingdao: Good Soil for the Gospel
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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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