On November 26, the mainland site Christian Times published a long interview with a house church pastor in Shenzhen who has been leading short-term mission trips to Burma and other neighboring countries for several years. The title of the piece is “Shenzhen Pastor Talks about the Joy and Pain of Cross-Cultural Missions, Calling on the Church to Have the Courage to Pay the Price."
In the interview, Pastor Jimmy shares about his passion for missions, the experiences and lessons he’s learned by taking short-term mission trips, the significance of missions, and his hopes for the Chinese church in the area of missions. We have translated the article in full, but are publishing it in two parts due to the length. Part one was published on February 3. This is part two.
Shenzhen Pastor Talks about the Joy and Pain of Cross-Cultural Missions, Calling on the Church to Have the Courage to Pay the Price (continued)
Chinese Church Pastors and Preachers Need to Be Good Missionary Role Models
Pastor Jimmy spoke urgently and resolutely, saying, "'China's Mission' is not just something we sing and that's it. We really need our pastors and preachers to lead by example. Your identity is first of all as a Christian, a missionary. If you do not evangelize, do you expect brothers and sisters to rush forward?"
"If a grain of wheat does not sink into the earth it dies, it remains a seed. If a general dies on the battlefield, it is an honor. Hiding away at home and dying peacefully would leave no scars." This is Pastor Jimmy's understanding of missions and the Great Commission.
He stressed that as soldiers of Christ, as his special forces, we must go to war. Therefore, the preacher and pastor need to take the lead in missions. They need to live out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in their lives, not for show, but to continue to lead brothers and sisters together into the fight. In this way, they will ignite the passion for missions in their brothers and sisters.
When he mentions this, Pastor Jimmy could not help but share about the poverty of the Wa people.
When we stayed at the church there was no hot shower, so that we had to bathe in cold water, even in the winter. Sometimes we would only bathe once a week. One time we were careless about the cold and got very sick. When we left we donated a solar water heater to the church.
The local people all bathe using cold water. Men and women, young and old all take turns kneeling on the ground outside, washing from an outdoor spigot. Very few people have installed solar energy equipment. The region is poor and backward. The only method of transportation is motorcycle. The mountain roads are very dangerous because they are rough and surrounded by steep cliffs; it's very dangerous.
"But for me, our team, and our church, missions is non-negotiable because it is the Great Commission of Jesus. We can't just share the gospel with our friends and family and call it good," Pastor Jimmy emphasized again.
He also spoke about Western missionaries to China.
Think about it, a hundred or two hundred years ago Western missionaries came to China when their own country and countrymen were not completely saved. Moreover, their living conditions were much better than ours are now, but they were still willing to leave their country, go across the ocean, and come to the ‘Gospel Wasteland’ of China. Many missionaries shed their own blood here. They did not say, ‘we will do missions once all our own countrymen in the U.S. and U.K. believe in the Lord.’ They followed the Spirit's call to come to China.
Our church is the same. Whenever we go on a short-term missions trip, we usually have a few people and not much funding; however going out to minister and coming back to share about God’s grace always stirs up the fire in our brothers and sisters. They see evangelists in the church fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus. Even though we are short on resources and personnel, they are still willing to go. That is both an example and an encouragement for many weak limbs of the body.
At the same time he added, "serving is using one's life to influence the lives of others, to use one's life to shepherd one's flock. A sermon does not depend on eloquence, but on the testimony of one's life, so that when you stand on the stage you will naturally exude the love of Christ. Only then will you touch souls."
Expectations for the Church in China: Emphasize Missions to Neighboring Countries
In Pastor Jimmy's view, Shenzhen is a very blessed city. The church has abundant manpower and financial resources. But, unfortunately, there are only a few churches that truly have a vision for missions. Many churches can often organize special conferences and exciting activities, but he hopes more pastors can see the importance of going out to do missions.
"Many people are like I was in the past; they are handicapping themselves. Many preachers feel their own churches are too small. They feel they must first take good care of their own churches before they can go out to do missions. But if they fear difficulty, death, and hardship because of what their church lacks and cannot move forward to the extent that they cannot fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus, then that type of life needs to be adjusted," Pastor Jimmy frankly pointed out.
He believes that church revival and breakthrough must first start with pastors and preachers. If those who lead do not have faith, if they are unwilling to pay the price and continue to live in a weak condition, then their lives cannot break out in renewed growth. Further, they have no way to ignite a fire in their co-laborers.
In recent years, God has placed a burden in Pastor Jimmy's heart for missions to neighboring countries where the culture is very similar to Chinese culture. These include Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, which are all Buddhist countries. He thinks we should not just think of preaching the gospel to far away places or waiting for missionaries from the United Kingdom or the United States to bring the gospel to these nearby countries. God measured out these neighboring countries for the Chinese people. For so many years, the gospel has been taking root and growing in China. The church in China has been blessed with many resources, so when the time comes to go out, we must accept this greater blessing of God. It is more blessed to give than to receive, and when we go out we receive an even greater blessing of God.
"The poor state of mind in the Chinese church needs to be broken," Pastor Jimmy stressed.
It is true that our church is small, and not particularly wealthy, mature, or influential; however I don’t think God looks at these things God looks to see if we are willing to offer our hearts. The Chinese church has a responsibility to send missionaries to these neighboring countries. This is the expectation he has for the Chinese Church.
We should not be too ambitious. We can first look after our neighboring countries. To bring them the gospel is also God's grace. If we can go out for missions then God will also make us into a blessing for other ethnic groups.
Pastor Jimmy also shared his own perspective.
When Western missionaries came to China in the 1800’s they primarily used education and medical treatment as a means to begin ministering to people. Afterwards they began to preach the gospel and build churches. These poor communities where we minister also lack education and health care. There are few schools in the mountains and teenagers can only complete junior high school before they drop out.
In the future, we can learn from this and use education and medical treatment as a way to gain access to care for them and love them, and build trusting relationships. This is an effective way to do missions among the people.
Pastor Jimmy truly believes that this is the only way to have any lasting significance. Short-term influence is limited and cannot take root in the long-term, so there needs to be preparation for long-term missions.
Finally, Pastor Jimmy sums up his sentiments from his short-term mission trips and issues a call to the church in China.
In recent years, God has given me a burden for missions to neighboring countries. In fact, we need to not only shout the slogan about missions to the Middle East and taking the gospel back to Jerusalem. Of course, God gives each person a different burden, but God also wants the Chinese church to truly and steadfastly love our neighboring countries; to diligently study the languages, customs, and cultures of different people groups and be among them; to truly love them and care for them; and to take the gospel to them.
Original Article: 【专访】深圳牧者谈跨文化宣教苦与乐 呼吁“教会敢于付代价” (Christian Times) Translated and posted with permission.
Image Credit: Burma/Myanmar: Wa State by European Commission DG ECHO, on Flickr