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Called and Faithful

Embracing Identity in God’s Service

Forty years ago, I found my faith and was baptized in a house church in Guangzhou, a community that was conservative, where women were expected to be obedient and not assume leadership roles. Yet my drive to serve was strong, which somewhat troubled the church leaders.

Thirty years ago, in Shanghai, I met Sister Yuan Mu’en (袁沐恩老姐妹),1 a student of the esteemed Chinese theologian Jia Yuming (贾玉铭) and an alumna of Chinese Christian Bible Institute (上海灵修院). Despite being imprisoned for over two decades due to her faith, she continued her unwavering service to the churches after her release. Her formidable ministry greatly inspired me! She prayed for me to mature into a wise and competent pastor. This inspired me to embark on a missionary journey to Hainan where I led many to faith in Christ.

Two decades ago, I witnessed the ordination of my New Testament teacher, Rev. Wang Ping (王苹) at Singapore Bible College. Rev. Wang Ping had nurtured a church of over 500 members from its beginning as a modest student fellowship. Her ordination was nearly unanimously approved, reflecting the congregation’s support and affection. This experience encouraged me and set a benchmark for my pastoral aspirations.

My internship supervisor, Rev. Lau Fongmeng (刘凤明), who was also a female pastor, possessed exceptional astuteness and skill. Her guidance was invaluable. She shared that while the Presbyterian Church accepts women pastors, their ministry can be particularly challenging in certain contexts. Hearing about her experiences was eye-opening. But in any case, during those four years in Southeast Asia, witnessing numerous women serving as pastors, preachers, elders, and deacons dismantled my earlier notion that women could not be church leaders.

After graduating from Singapore Bible College in 2003, I began pastoring at Guangzhou Blessed Land Church. At that point, I was battling cancer and felt compelled to dedicate myself fully to the Lord’s work. Under my leadership, we became the first church in Guangzhou to transition from private homes to public spaces. The church grew not only in numbers but also in spiritual strength, evidencing the pastoral and teaching gifts I had received from God.

Our congregation then began to navigate the formal establishment processes. However, in China at that time, formal ordination systems were scarce; male pastors were few and far between, not to mention female pastors. The Chinese church had faced severe setbacks post-1949, with many religious figures being imprisoned. This led to a discontinuity in China’s clerical tradition.

Yet, the church persisted and grew in those difficult times.

After 1979, when the older generation of church leaders were released from incarceration, they played a pivotal role in revitalizing the church. Nonetheless, they seldom emphasized formal titles, preferring familial honorifics like “uncle” and “aunt.” The famous pastor in Guangzhou, Rev. Samuel Lamb (林献羔), was always honored as “Uncle Lin” throughout his life. Consequently, the subsequent generation of preachers often found ordination to be a complex issue.

In 2007, after five years of battling cancer, I experienced a recurrence of metastasis and reached the terminal stage, with doctors estimating a survival period of about half a year. The co-workers of the church respected and cherished me and wrote a letter to the Singapore Bible College in the hope of ordaining me as a pastor. At that time, Singapore Bible College had never ordained a domestic Chinese graduate as a pastor, but due to my unique situation, the request from my co-workers coincided with the retirement meeting of the Hong Kong alumni of Singapore Bible College held in Hong Kong, where Emeritus President Maak Hay Chun (麦希真) was present along with a number of incumbent leaders of the college. After careful prayers and discussions, they decided that I should be ordained as a pastor by the alumni chaplaincy group of Singapore Bible College.

The whole church voted openly, and although I did not receive unanimous approval as Rev. Wang Ping had, the vote passed by a significant majority. At the time of the ordination, I had just ceased chemotherapy and my hair had not yet grown back. I prayed to God urgently, “Lord, please grant me the time to fulfill my pastoral duties beyond my ordination.” To date, I continue to lead my church in good health, by God’s grace.

Rev. Maak Hay Chun, at my ordination, cautioned me about the challenges and opposition I would face as a female pastor. Yet he affirmed the divine calling of my ministry. It is true that, apart from my own church, there are indeed many people who are against women pastors. Some even accused us of sinning against God, and some brothers directly told me that they would not address me as a pastor, but only as a “sister.” These words, however, do not sway me. Over the decades of my ministry, the clarity of God’s call and guidance has been unwavering. If God does not question my role, why should I heed the doubts of others?

In recent years, the church in China has undergone significant changes, marked by the rise of many formally ordained pastors, including a substantial number of women. This development is likely the result of numerous pastors completing formal theological education.

Upon my arrival in the United States, I observed that North American churches are less receptive to female pastors compared to their Asian counterparts. It is apparent that many theologically trained women, despite feeling called by God, often serve in supporting roles next to their husbands, their own autonomy seemingly overshadowed.

Scripture forewarns us of life’s trials, and Jesus’ words in John 16:33 are a beacon: “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The path of pastoral ministry has its own inherent trials, and as a woman, these can be distinctive. Yet Galatians 3:28 reminds us of our unity in Christ, transcending all divisions, including those of gender. Holding firm to this promise, I am empowered by Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who strengthens me.” My service as a pastor is a joyful fulfillment of the calling God has placed on my life, steadfast in the faith that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Editor’s note: This post was originally written in Chinese and translated by the ChinaSource team.


  1. See 《当代大陆教会复兴史略(1900—2000) 中英对照》, December 30, 2023, accessed March 5, 2024,
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Image credit: Courtesy of the author.
Dorcas Du

Dorcas Du

Rev. Dorcas Du is the founding pastor of Blessed Land Church in Guangzhou, playing a pivotal role in China's emerging urban churches. Armed with a theological foundation from the Singapore Bible College (新加坡神学院) and the China Graduate School of Theology (中国神学研究院), she is presently pursuing a doctorate in pastoral theology …View Full Bio

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