When Glenn and I returned to the US after our years in Hong Kong, we wanted to stay involved in ministry related to China. We had started to serve with ChinaSource while still in Hong Kong and it was a great fit for us as we moved back, especially as several ChinaSource team members were already working virtually. One concern we had was that we would miss the day-to-day personal interaction we had had with Chinese people. We did not want to serve only online. So, we looked for a place where we could be involved with ministry among Chinese students and scholars. The Lord brought us to St. Louis, and we have found volunteering with various campus ministries to be rewarding, fruitful, and fun.
Almost immediately we became involved in the Tuesday Lunch for Internationals. As the name indicates, a free lunch for international students and scholars was available every Tuesday during the academic year. Several campus ministries were involved, and local churches of various denominations provided the lunches. It was a great place for meeting students, building friendships, and promoting the activities of the campus ministries. It was also a great place to learn about the history of campus ministry in St. Louis. We were amazed to learn that the lunch was first started over 40 years ago as an outreach of the Baptists. Over the years it had developed to include other denominations and campus groups and had changed locations several times. But it was still going and still reaching students.
To me, that was a long history. I remember wondering—who was even thinking about international students 40 years ago. This issue of ChinaSource Quarterly (CSQ) shows just how uninformed I was about the history of reaching Chinese students locally and overseas. For instance, I did not know that the first Christian student conference held in mainland China predated the start of the North American-based Urbana Conference1 by one year and the second mainland conference which was organized by China InterVarsity took place in Nanjing the following year in 1947.2 Indeed, as the articles in this issue point out, student ministry in China is well over one hundred years old—even outreach to minority students in China goes back as far.3
As we thought about doing an issue of CSQ on student ministry, we realized that not only does student ministry among Chinese students go back in history longer than many of us might think, but it is also broader and more varied than might appear. So, for the first time we are dedicating back-to-back issues of CSQ to one theme. This issue looks at student ministries within mainland China, the autumn issue will look at other aspects of student ministry—primarily outside of the mainland, with one exception. In that issue, we will also look at campus ministry in China among international students.
Just as campus ministry in mainland China is facing additional pressures today—so is ministry among Chinese students overseas. The Tuesday Lunch was already facing challenges in 2019 but all campus ministry has faced the challenges of Covid-19 and the restrictions that the pandemic brought about. As we learn more about reaching Chinese students—and other internationals—in the pages of this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly and the next, may we be better prepared to pray and participate in God’s ongoing work among them.
- “About Urbana,“ InterVarsity Urbana Student Missions Conference, accessed July 5, 2021, https://urbana.org/about-urbana.
- Zhu Zi Jian, “History of Student Ministry in China,” “Student Ministry in China” in ChinaSource Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 2, July 2021, https://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/articles/history-of-student-ministry-in-china.
- Nyima Rongwu, “Ministry among Minority Students,” in ChinaSource Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 2, July 2021, https://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/articles/ministry-among-minority-students.
Narci Herr and her husband, Glenn, lived for just over 30 years in Hong Kong. They were first involved in working with the church in Hong Kong and then for the last 20 years of their time in Asia they served workers living in China. During that time Glenn traveled extensively throughout China and Narci …View Full Bio