Skip to main content

China’s lay preachers get confidence boost through training

Author: Simon Bartz, 9 February 2023

Share this:

Students at a seminary in China study Scriptures in Greek provided by Bible Society. Photo credit: Dag Smemo

Chen Ruifen, 25, not only preaches at church on Sundays, but serves as pianist, sings in the choir, leads Bible studies and organises various activities. Filling numerous roles at a church (or more than one church) is par for the course for a lay preacher in China.

Because of the enormous number of Chinese coming to faith every year in the world’s most populous country, there is still only one ordained pastor to every 6,700 believers in China. Chen is one of China’s crucial 48,000 lay preachers who assist the pastors in shepherding tens of millions of believers. Equipping and training young lay preachers like Chen is a priority for Bible Society. It means more church workers enter the mission field with more confidence.

Guidance needed

Many Chinese have Bibles, thanks to the amazing generosity of Bible Society supporters over the years, but believers need guidance to fully engage with God’s word in order to strengthen their faith and witness to others.

Dr Simon Wong in his study in Hong Kong.

Chen was deeply encouraged by a recent Bible course called ‘The Chinese Bible – From Manuscript to Chinese Union Version’ at Guangdong Theological Seminary. The course was conducted by Dr Simon Wong, translation consultant for Bible Society and, many say, the most published living Chinese biblical scholar.

Chen said, ‘God has amazingly preserved the Bible these past few thousand years throughout the history of manual copying and translation of the Scriptures. After learning about the biblical text development, I have more confidence to approach the variants in the different Bible translations. When interpreting the Bible, I could select the appropriate Bible translations for references and supplement my understanding of the text.’

A deeper understanding

Chen said she hoped that more courses on the historical, religious and cultural contexts of the Bible would be taught to preachers like her to gain a deeper understanding of the Scripture. 

‘Through the understanding of the biblical background, I could better explain the original intention of the authors and help believers to apply the Scripture more aptly. I will certainly recommend this course to my fellow preachers and co-workers,’ she said.

Chen admits she has had doubts about her own abilities to serve the church. But she says God’s comfort is always at hand, and especially through 2 Corinthians 12.9: ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ (ESV)

‘Serving the church is not dependent on my limited self but trusting that God will work with and through me,’ said Chen. 

Like for many preachers in China, there have been moments of discouragement when Chen felt misunderstood or overwhelmed by challenges in her ministry. Thankfully, God always reminds her of his truths from his word at the right time and helps her adjust her mindset.

Chen is so grateful for the training and study opportunities that have been made available through the generosity of Bible Society supporters.

This content is adapted from an original story published by United Bible Societies-China Partnership. 

Share this:

Read the Bible icon Read the Bible
Open the full Bible