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On fire for the Lord in China

Author: Bible Society, 7 July 2023

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In Feicheng, from a group of just two, there are now more than 20 groups consisting of 240 people using Bible Society discipleship materials. Photos: UBS-CP

Thanks to your kind giving, we've sent discipleship materials to the Chinese city of Feicheng. Their impact has been huge.

Elder Wang

Elder Wang keeps a white notebook with the word ‘Shepherding’ written on the cover. In it she records the names of churches, group leaders and believers in the Chinese city of Feicheng who have participated in small Bible-learning groups. She makes notes of each person’s progress.

She also has another list of believers who are eager to join a small group. It’s 700 names long right now and growing all the time. These people are waiting for leaders to be trained up.

Wang, who oversees a church in Feicheng, says all of these people have one thing in common – they are yearning for discipleship, hungering to grow into maturity in Christ.

‘It’s the work of the Lord! This is the first time we are having the small Bible-learning group format in our churches using the discipleship materials The Abundant Life and The Abundant Grace donated by Bible Society. And we are seeing lives change, which is what only God can do,’ says Wang.

Lack of leaders

Millions across China have come to faith over the past few decades but not all have a clear understanding of the Christian faith. Like many other churches in rural China, the believers in Feicheng are village farmers and labourers. Due to the severe lack of pastors and spiritual resources in China, many rural Christians are not properly discipled. So they remain either as ‘baby Christians’ or become nominal, apathetic believers.

Revd Chen Yiping, a veteran pastor from Fujian province, wrote in the preface of The Abundant Life and The Abundant Grace: ‘The churches in China are growing but there is a potential crisis. As the number of believers keeps climbing … there are many sheep without shepherds. Whenever I visit rural churches, I come across many believers who are not clear about their beliefs. Some are just blindly following. As a result, they are also susceptible to the lure of cult groups.’

This has happened in Wang’s church. ‘We have members who only come on special occasions like Easter and Christmas, and also those who have backslidden and stopped coming altogether.’

When services at Wang’s church were suspended due to Covid, she organised visits to the homes of church members. One woman was struggling badly with her faith so Wang’s coworker, preacher Zhen Shasha, visited this person regularly, praying and holding Bible studies with her.  

‘Then we knew that more of our members needed materials that would guide them,’ said Zhen. ‘The materials from Bible Society were just what we needed. The material designed for small groups comes with a leader’s guide. It brings a young Christian through foundational teachings like repentance, assurance of salvation and importance of Bible reading and prayer.’

‘God surprises us’

The Abundant Grace

Wang and Zhen later began using the resources in small groups at the church. 

‘God surprises us! From one small learning group, we have grown to more than 20 groups now consisting of 240 people. And from our church, we have gone to share this small learning-group format using the Bible Society discipleship materials to 14 other churches in Feicheng.’ 

The resources, provided through your kind giving, are so popular that Wang’s church once ran out. Small group members responded by making handwritten copies.

‘In small learning groups, people find it easier to ask questions, open up and share,’ said Wang. ‘More have also stepped up to serve in church. People are on fire for the Lord now. They are bringing the gospel to their family and friends. Backslidden believers are also coming back to the Lord. We truly see God at work amongst us. Praise the Lord!’

The task ahead 

Wang and Zhen encourage those who have attended small groups to become leaders of their own groups and they build from there. 

‘The need for shepherding is great,’ said Wang. ‘What we want to do is to bring this small discipleship group format to the more remote villages.’

You can share God's word in an amazing range of ways as a member of Bible a Month. Your donation of £10 or more will put the Bible in someone's hands, whether that's a Chinese Christian or a prisoner in England and Wales, every month.

This story appeared in Bible Society’s magazine Word in Action. It was adapted from content provided by United Bible Societies–China Partnership. Find out more about Word in Action.  

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