Bringing What Has Been Hidden to the Light

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Editor’s note: In honor of Women’s History Month, CP regularly dedicates the month of March to highlighting the voices of women in China’s house churches. Visit our blog throughout the month for a special glimpse into the ways the gospel is impacting the hearts of China’s women and check out previous blog posts, videos, and prayer guides.


The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. Those words proved a trustworthy saying as I recently traveled to the other side of the world to serve a group of Chinese women regarding sexuality and sexual brokenness.  

Seeing a Need

I am a part of a ministry with a twofold mission: to bring the truth and mercy of Jesus Christ to individuals and families affected by sexual struggles and to provide resources that address biblical sexuality with individuals and churches. My primary work is with women who themselves struggle with patterns of sexual brokenness and with wives who are hurting as a result of the betrayal they experienced from their husband’s sexual sin. I teach women on the topics of sex, sexuality, and gender. I also teach parents and church leaders how to raise sexually faithful kids in our current cultural mine fields.

A group of Chinese pastors and elders were introduced to the teaching of our ministry through an American church. After hearing about some of the pastoral blind spots in women’s ministry, these pastors recognized they needed help in their ministry to the women in their congregations. 

In addition to ministering to women in one on one settings where we talked deeply about some of these sisters’ struggles, we also taught on a long list of topics: 


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– Women’s ministry to the sexually broken and hurting
– Ministry to wives in marriages where sexual betrayal in present
– A seminar for pastors and elders about blind spots that may be present in their ministries to women
– How the traumatic effects of sexual abuse can impact a woman
– Ministry to parents seeking to raise sexually faithful children in a culture where sex is idolized 

These Chinese brothers demonstrated a wise and gentle humility in their desire to serve the sisters in their congregations. We would love to see more American pastors demonstrate the same kind of humility in their ministry to women! They recognized that the women in their communities needed other women to come alongside them as teachers and mentors. This was already happening in some of their churches, but the male leaders wanted to see such work replicated across their entire network.

Bringing What Has Been Hidden to Light

Around topics of sex and sexuality, it is not uncommon for conversations to be steeped in shame and fear. The enemy uses these emotions and fears to keep hidden that which God desires bring into the light. 

Many women approached us and thanked us for boldly and beautifully bringing these topics into the light. I can’t say with certainty whether they received messages from the church to remain quiet or whether it was their own shame that kept them quiet. But what I can say is that these sisters were open with us and open in their questions. They expressed a sincere longing to understand God’s design for them as sexual beings and what it looks like to steward the gift of sex. 

While I can’t speak for the larger Chinese population, the women we met were encountering challenges similar to those faced by American women. There appeared to be particular pressures from both their families and the church on “older” single women in their late 20s and early 30s to marry. 

I was also aware of gender stereotypes that seemed to emerge in our individual sessions and in some of the questions raised during our teaching. To reiterate, I don’t presume to speak for all Chinese women in the church. But some of these stereotypes also appear in the conservative, American church. The most significant stereotypes arose around 1) issues of submission in marriage, and 2) the expectation that women ought to be virgins prior to marriage, but that this did not apply to men. For women who had sexual encounters prior to marriage, they expressed fear in becoming involved romantically with the Christian men in their church community. They feared once their sexual pasts were confessed, they would be shamed and rejected.    

Among the older women, I encountered a hesitancy to open up appropriately about the sin in their past with the younger women. There was a real tension on their part to both want to protect their reputations as women esteemed in the church, while longing to be transparent with their lives to encourage and help the younger women in their congregations.  

Noticeable Differences

Though there were many similarities, we did experience obvious cultural differences within the church and among the people concerning sex and sexuality. For example, my colleague and I noted that the Chinese culture is not as LGBTQ embracing as American culture. We shared with the Chinese church that the American church was unprepared for how quickly the cultural tide changed and turned against orthodox teaching on biblical sexuality. We desired to give the leaders advance warning and to invite them to prepare their flocks well with teaching on sexuality and gender rooted in biblical truth rather than cultural terminology.

Another significant difference is that most of the people we encountered were first generation believers. Very few of them came from a long lineage of Christians. This fact seems to be having both a positive and a negative impact on the larger church. On the one hand, their love of Jesus is new and fresh. Yet on the other, there are not many older believers who can serve as mentors to the younger population.

My Prayer

As I reflect on my trip, I pray that the tools we left with the women and their leaders would be useful and effective in teaching and discipling one another in the beautiful truth and freedom that we experience living within God’s boundary lines. We pray that the language with which we spoke about these topics would continue to be spoken so that sex and sexuality can be talked about with grace, compassion, and without shame.

I also pray that the Lord would keep these brothers and sisters “invisible” before the eyes of the authorities. As with many churches in the country, we met men and women who had been interrogated by the authorities in their city. I was deeply encouraged by them as I witnessed the great courage and faith the Lord has given them in the face of uncertainty.  

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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

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