Monthly Archives: December 2012

Report from China – Mark Pritchard

From October 25th to November 13th Keep Believing Ministries had staff and supporters ministering in China and South Korea. Each day this week you’ll be taken on a journey to apartment churches, city walls, and into the heart of Christianity in Asia. We hope you’ll join us back here each day to read the stories, see the pictures, and rejoice in what God is doing on the other side of the world!

Mark Pritchard lives in Dallas, Texas where he is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary while working on staff at Keep Believing Ministries. Join Mark at a table with Chinese missionaries who have a vision to bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem.

An Unlikely Beachhead

Three miles from one of the most visited sections of the Great Wall of China, tucked away in a non-descript office building, twelve twenty-somethings toil away learning English, video editing, web-design, and app design. From all outward appearances, they’d pass for studious employees working hard to fulfill the entrepreneurial dreams of their leaders.

What you wouldn’t realize is that these twelve workers have already spent a year of intense Bible training in hotel rooms, basements, and barns throughout China.

What you also wouldn’t realize is that these twelve workers have left their families, friends, and homes to learn computer programs in a complicated language they can’t yet speak.

Finally, you would have no idea that the training these twelve workers receive will allow them to be “tentmakers” in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

In an unlikely place, God has established a beachhead just thirty miles from Beijing, where these twelve twenty-somethings are preparing to transform China along with the rest of Asia.

These were the students Vanessa and I met on a hazy November day.

At a Table with Giants 

Aaron is one of the few male employees at the center. He told us how God told him to bring the Gospel to the people of Northeast India. Though he’s never met an Indian or eaten Indian food and can’t speak Hindi, he believes God has called him to India, and He will take care of the rest.

Teresa is 24 years old. With a red face and an embarrassed smile, she asks us to pray for God to bring her a good and godly husband. With great candor and great sadness, she speaks about her loneliness and her sense of feeling incomplete. She is heading to Pakistan husband or not, but she longs to have a partner in life and ministry.

Joy hails from a region in China known as the birthplace of Kung Fu. At the age of 18, she is the youngest of all the students. She tells us that God has laid the people of Burma on her heart. She hopes to relocate there permanently to work with orphans. Through broken English and choking back tears, she asked us to pray for her parents who aren’t Christians and don’t support her calling.

People often call older men and women of faith “giants” because the strength and evidence of their faith so easily dwarfs our own. While we met and prayed with these students, I felt like I was sitting at a table with giants of the faith. Yes, these students are young and have much of life to experience, but it’s not as if their faith was born inside the relative safety and comfort of the American church. Having endured loneliness, loss family, poverty and persecution, these young men and women are still unflinchingly obedient to wherever God calls; even if it means taking up residence in areas that our government is afraid to go.

It’s easy to be impressed with their faith.

It’s easy to be challenged by their faith.

It’s easy to see why God has chosen them for this task.

As our short time wrapped up, I reminded them of the words of Peter to the scattered, lonely, and discouraged believers in Asia Minor from 1 Peter 5:9.

“Stand firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

I told them that though our struggles and trials are not the same, we would remember them in prayer and in our testimony to others about what God is doing in China.

If you’ve read this far, you just realized that I promised your prayers to that small band of eager missionaries.

I hope you’ll remember them often.

I hope you’ll lay their lives, their families, and their ministry at the throne of God.

I hope you’ll join them in transforming Asia for the glory of God.

Three miles from one of the most visited sections of the Great Wall of China, tucked away in a non-descript office building, twelve students eagerly wait for the day they’re sent out to bring the Gospel to those who do not have the hope of eternity with Christ.

I promised to tell their story. Would you join me in praying for them?

Report from China – Wesley Wildmon

From October 25th to November 13th Keep Believing Ministries had staff and supporters ministering in China and South Korea. Each day this week you’ll be taken on a journey to apartment churches, city walls, and into the heart of Christianity in Asia. We hope you’ll join us back here each day to read the stories, see the pictures, and rejoice in what God is doing on the other side of the world! 

Wesley Wildmon lives in Tupelo, Mississippi and attends Mississippi State University. This is Wesley’s second missions trip, join him as he recounts meeting a house church pastor in a hotel room.

I am back home from China and could not be any more excited in what I experienced and could not be any more thrilled with the blessings that our trip to China will bring to the people we came in contact with.  This trip means so much in my everyday life and for what my future holds. Because you and other friends and family made this trip possible, I wanted to write you this brief letter and let you know what happened.

We serve a God who understands every language, different cultures and different races because he created them all. In the words of Dr. Ray Pritchard, who lead our trip, “The things that unite us are far better, more important and outweigh the things that divide us.” To hear testimonies in person from people that are being touched by Ray’s radio ministry in China via Trans World Radio was an immense blessing. The church of Jesus Christ is growing inside China despite being an atheistic country.

While in China, I wrote a personal journal each day. To give you sample, here is what I wrote on Day Four:

“We woke up in Xi’an and went to see the Terra-Cotta soldiers. Then we meet in secret (in a hotel) with Chinese Christians from all over China. I learned that for every 7,000 Christians there is only one bible teacher and he is most likely untrained, works at least two jobs because they get paid hardly anything (if anything) as a pastor. In that hotel room meeting, one guy who listens to Ray, in his early 20s, had a mother-in-law who was telling him to quit pastoring and get a job so they could afford to have a kid and begin a family with his newlywed. Then after she overheard him listening to Ray’s sermons that were translated (on the radio) she told him keep preaching and also placed her faith in Christ. She even told her son-in-law that she would try and pick up the slack so he could keep pastoring.

“Another guy who came to meet us was a school teacher who rode a bus 15 hours just to meet us at our hotel room. He too listened to Ray’s broadcast. We had to come into the hotel room two at a time so we did not become suspicious to government authorities. This man had shared about the Lord with two other teachers at school who overheard him listening to Keep Believing Ministries and they both came to faith in Christ and KBM has been their number one tool in their discipleship. It was a special night and sweet time in Xi’an.”

The one major thing that I learned from being with my Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ is that with all the reasons in the world to complain because of their persecution, government, etc. they never complained as if to say Gods grace is sufficient. They even went so far to not just avoid complaining, they were thankful for what they did have and that being their salvation. They were content with their salvation and you could see their joy stemmed from that. They understood that what made them weak is what also made them strong. This was hard to understand at first but brought to mind the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:1-10.

Well, that gives you a little taste of our time in China from my Journal. It was a true missions trip. Thanks so much for all your prayers and for being a part both in spirit and in truth in the movement of Jesus in China.

Report from China – Mike Maynard

From October 25th to November 13th Keep Believing Ministries had staff and supporters ministering in China and South Korea. Each day this week you’ll be taken on a journey to apartment churches, city walls, and into the heart of Christianity in Asia. We hope you’ll join us back here each day to read the stories, see the pictures, and rejoice in what God is doing on the other side of the world!

Mike Maynard lives in Tupelo, Mississippi and this trip to China was his 45th mission trip including one to Africa with Keep Believing Ministries. Here is his recounting of a worship service in an apartment in Beijing, China.

This was my second Keep Believing Ministries missionary trip and it gave me the opportunity to watch Ray minister to people that face everyday circumstances unlike anything we face. Situations that make it difficult to keep the faith and keep believing in Jesus.

We attended a secret church service in Beijing in an apartment with about 10 adults, both male and female on our first night in China. We met for about 2 hours, singing old hymns which we all knew, like “Amazing Grace” & “Victory In Jesus”. As they passed the hymnal around and they asked us to pick out our favorite hymn and then we all worshipped together accompanied by a piano & violin. I asked them if they were afraid to be heard. They told us that they weren’t afraid because they knew their neighbors who lived next door.

What impressed me most was their enthusiasm for singing. They sang with gusto! Their enthusiasm was infectious and we joined in with loud voices. Then they served us our first “home cooked” Chinese meal and then Ray preached a sermon for about 30 minutes as if he were preaching in a huge church. They loved on us and kept telling us how appreciative they were than we would come all the way to China to worship with them. They told us how they were encouraged to
keep the faith through Ray’s radio ministry and to share Christ with others one on one.

Report from China – Nick Pritchard

From October 25th to November 13th Keep Believing Ministries had staff and supporters ministering in China and South Korea. Each day this week you’ll be taken on a journey to apartment churches, city walls, and into the heart of Christianity in Asia. We hope you’ll join us back here each day to read the stories, see the pictures, and rejoice in what God is doing on the other side of the world!

Nick lives in Chicago, Il and has been to China 3 times including living in the Hebei province for a summer while he taught English. Join him on a bike ride along the city walls of an ancient capital of China.

 

 

 

 

 

Jason (our guide for the trip): “We’re going to ride bikes on the city wall.” (said in a plain and matter-of-fact tone)

Nick: “What?” (trying to find a frame of reference for this statement)

Jason: “We will rent bicycles and you will ride around the city wall.” (same matter-of-fact tone…apparently he wasn’t joking)

Nick: “What?” (currently expressing some incredulity)

This exchange pretty much sums up my experience in China. It is a country that constantly laughs at our US frame of reference. There are more people, buildings, cars, mopeds, and flashing lights in China than you could imagine. On top of that, it has a history that dwarfs anything in the western world. Seeing and experiencing the vast expanse of China firsthand is what makes explaining it to those who have never been so difficult. Where and how do you even begin? Given that, it should not have been surprising when we were told that we were going to be riding bikes on one of the oldest and most intact city walls in the world. And yet, it was.

The current wall around the city of Xi’An has been around, in some form or another, since the Ming Dynasty in 1370. The wall measures about 8.5 miles in circumference, 39 feet in height, and between 49-59 feet in thickness at the base. No matter where you stand within the confines of the city wall you can feel its imposing presence. And there we were, standing on top of this massive, ancient structure about to go for a bike ride.

It cost us about 8 US Dollars to rent and ride bicycles on top of the wall. The first thing you notice, besides the hundreds of uniformly white bikes waiting to be rented, is the cobble stone paving across the top of the wall. The second thing you notice is the lack of shock absorbers on any of the hundreds of uniformly white bikes waiting to be rented. You wouldn’t realize it at first, but you’d be wishing you had the shock absorbers by the time you made the final turn to head back to the rental office.

About a mile into the ride I realized that this was one of the coolest things I had ever done and that I would likely never do anything this unique ever again. The beauty of the ride was that it gave me a passing view of some of the more unexplainable things about China.

  1. The ride around the city only reinforced the size and sheer expanse of China. The total area within the wall is about 5.4 square miles but what stuck out to me during the ride was how many square miles the city of Xi’An expanded beyond the city wall. Every direction outside the wall boasted tall buildings as far as the eye could see. So what if some of the vision was blocked by the haze that constantly covers the city?  There are so many buildings everywhere that you constantly find yourself playing the skeptic. There cannot possibly be enough people to inhabit these buildings. China currently has 94 cities with over 1 million residents – compared to the 9 in the United States. Sound ridiculous? By 2025, that number is supposed to jump from 94 to 221 cities. According to Chinafaqs.org, by 2025 nearly 1 billion people will live in China’s cities. Maybe if that isn’t completely mind boggling then this might be:  Conservative estimates show that approximately 25% of the world’s cranes are located in China. Very liberal estimates put this number closer to 50%. It is all so absolutely incomprehensible.
  2. You cannot visit Xi’An and not be immediately hit with China’s storied history. Xi’An is China’s former capital and has a history dating back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). In the middle of the city are both a drum tower and a bell tower. Both towers were erected in the late 14th century and were used to tell the citizens of Xi’An what time of day it was. Both towers were visible throughout the entire ride. There is also a museum on the east side of the city that boasts ancient stone tablets that are over 1,000 years old. The stories on the tablets range from the mundane (a draft of a letter) to the historical (a Nestorian tablet on the history of Christianity in China). These towers and tablets have been around and preserved longer than anything we, in the US, can claim. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in China — to speak nothing of the Terracotta Soldiers or the Great Wall. So when people ask what China is like I always hesitate because I am not sure there is an answer that would do the country justice.
  3. There was something spiritually moving about biking around the city of Xi’An. As we made slow right turns around the wall I kept thinking about God’s statement to Paul in Acts 18:9-10:

     “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

It was encouraging to think that God also has His people in Xi’An. In a city that expands beyond where the eye can see and in a country with people too numerous to count, it was a great reminder that God is doing work in a complex and unexplainable land. As we rode I prayed that God would continue to raise up more people from within those city walls. To raise up men and women that would call Him “Lord.” To raise up men and women that didn’t put their hope in historical structures or a vast history but who put their hope and trust in a God that sustains those things with a breath.

The ride concluded without much incident. It would take days for my body to recover from the constant shock of the wheels over the cobble stones. The lasting image from the wall, however, was not one of pain but one of hope. God has his people inside those walls. Let us rejoice at such an awesome thought. Then let us ask God to use us to make His glory known to a people in an unexplainable land.