People Seeking the Truth, Part 5: “Our Hearts Are Still in China”

Editor’s note: Grace transforms. In recent decades, millions of Chinese people have met Jesus and had their lives turned inside out. Their hopes, dreams, families, leisure, and (in some cases) occupations have changed because of Christ. This is the last of a five-part interview series with “Tim,” a Chinese ministry leader. In this series, Tim shares his story of faith.Our hope is that these interviews challenge and encourage Western believers to examine their own faith and remind them to pray for their brothers and sisters in China.

After several years of overseas theological study, your family came back to China. What was your hope for your work when you returned? 

I have a strong passion to disciple Chinese students and young workers in full-time ministry. I am very passionate about helping people with the fullness of Christian growth. I want to help them see how Christian faith can change not only their belief, but also their relationships with their parents, other people, their choice of work, parenting, marriage. I slowly realized that the process of discipleship takes time. It requires people spending energy to continually encourage others to grow in their Christian faith.

Why did you feel this need?

I saw people have moral issues, personality conflicts, emotional depression, or other things from their family background, and so they quit full-time ministry. I also saw pastors who were trying so hard to serve the church, but who were struggling with their family needs. I saw the importance of a holistic approach to Christian growth. 


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Has that been neglected in China?

Most of the younger Christians with whom I work are first-generation Christians. They don’t have older believers they can look to – their spiritual transformation oftentimes faces challenges.

A few years after returning to China, you changed roles again. 

I stepped up and gave direction to full-time ministry workers in our region of China.

There was a lot of political stress you began to go through. 

Because of the work, I was questioned by government security police more than ten times, about every other month. It was stressful.

How did that impact your family?

The visits were stressful, and there were many unknowns. In the end I was threatened, it seemed there was no way for me to find a solution. Even when I received counsel, it seemed nobody could give me a clear answer of what I could do. I continued the dialogue, but could not find a clear solution. Because of that, my wife began to experience PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].

Because of the PTSD, my wife said she couldn’t continue to live in the city where we had been, and we needed to look for another direction. We prayed, asked friends for counsel, and in the end we moved to another city in China.

What do you mean, you “received a threat”?

The security police officer told me to hand sensitive ministry information to him; to move to another location; or to leave the country permanently. Those were my only three options.

What have you been doing since you moved?

These last several years we have received counseling and tried to adjust and explore more ministry opportunities. The last two years I have been training, discipling, and mentoring house church pastors. I have been building up church planters, and teaching and preaching for the house churches.

Now your family is about to make another change and leave China. Could you tell me about that?

Tim: Through serving the house church, we have realized our family needs more stability. My child often asks if we can provide a more stable environment. My wife, although her PTSD is getting better, also feels stress sometimes. For me, I have been personally evaluating my gifts and passions, and questioning what long-term direction God is giving to us. So, we started looking for other options. Through this journey we realized that serving in another city in China is very difficult.

Jen: Because you are a known person, you feel restricted. Limited.

Tim: We feel the limitations of the things we do. There are always concerns about security, about trouble. We don’t feel the freedom to make decisions. 

Jen: The security problems have not only affected me, but also our child, who has been very angry. At a certain level, our child is anxious and fearful about the country, and the government. That is another reason we have been considering providing a safer environment for our child to heal.

Is this a permanent decision?

Tim: We both feel this is God’s timing, it is the right decision to make and it is time to move on, even though it is hard.

Jen: We don’t know that it is a permanent decision. Our hearts are still in China.This move overseas seems like a season to us – but it is still hard. It also feels permanent in some ways.

As I gradually recover emotionally, I have been able to minister a bit more. I see the need more, and I have received feedback about how God is using this knowledge to help other people. Thinking about moving overseas for me, ministry-wise, is really hard. I feel other countries have so many resources already, while China has such a huge need. It is really hard to leave.

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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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