Tag Archives: Pray

Weekly Mind Dump: Thankful

✪ During our time in Taiwan we were able to meet with ministers working in 6 different countries. According to the CIA Factbook, here is how “Christian” each country is: China 5.1% Christian | Taiwan 4.5% Christian | India 2.3% Christian | Thailand 1.2% Christian | United Kingdom 59.5% Christian | United States 51.3% Protestant Christian. These percentages include the following groupings: Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Christianity, Protestant Christianity. [1]

✪ Chinese Bible Distribution: THANK YOU! Because many of you gave to help us buy Bibles, we were able to spend all the money and buy Bibles in Dalian, Harbin, and Gaoxiong! We emptied out the account this week. If you are interested in helping us buy Bibles in China and Taiwan to reach the Chinese, you can send funds to our Chinese Bible Distribution Fund. 100% of the funds will be used to buy Bibles! No middle man fee! A Chinese pastor asked me to tell those who gave, “Thank you!”

✪ We had a great Thanksgiving service on Sunday. Everyone brought a little something to eat and then after the main service we enjoyed a meal together and then had an afternoon testimony service.

✪ Church Update: During the organization service the church officially voted me in as their pastor. I will be their temporary pastor until the Lord raises up a Chinese man to pastor the church. Please pray with us towards this end.

✪ We had more given towards the different needs that we have! Thank you so much for your generosity!

✪ We have many new ideas for outreach in the city, but we are limited on manpower. Pray that more labourers will come and help us reach this city of millions with the gospel!

✪ We are working on organizing and laying the foundation for our “Bible College”, Dalian Baptist Seminary. We would like to start the first classes sometimes at the beginning of next year. Please pray with us about this!

One of the young men who was recently here on a short-term trip is coming back in the spring of next year for a six-month internship. Pray for him and give to help him come if you can!

✪ I am thankful for my wonderful family and wife. My wife does so much that goes unnoticed, and I am not the best at always thanking her for all that she does. Thank you, my love, I couldn’t do what I do without you!

✪ Thank you Lord Jesus for your many blessings and allowing me to partake in your amazing grace!

At a Crossroads – Direction Known

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I want to thank everyone for praying for us over the past week and a half. It has been a stressful and trying time. Through prayer, counsel and open doors we finally know the direction we are going.

First, we plan on staying in the city and continuing our ministry here. Our actual identities are not known. We don’t see a direct threat. With the information they do know; they could eventually find out who we are if they truly were wanting to know, but they haven’t seemed to pursue it at this time.

Second, we moved the church from the residential location to a commercial location. The new location means I can be involved back in the services of the church immediately. I preached both services this past Sunday. Also, before renting this new location we asked all the surrounding businesses if our services on Sunday would be a problem for them and they all said, “no.” (Renting commercial space has its benefits… planning to write more about the benefits of this in the future. The one downside is the extra cost.)

Third, for political reasons, I will still not be the official pastor of the church but will do many of the functions of a pastor until the church has one. (This is more of a word game that, hopefully, will help us with future run-ins with the police.)

Summary: The church has moved to a new commercial location that will, hopefully, help meet its needs and allow for future growth. We will continue to lead the church and train up young men as the Lord allows. We are moving forward trusting the Lord!

(We could be wrong about all these decisions.)

P.S. We have some different projects and that we are working on and if you are interested in helping the local church here with any of these financially, let me know and I can give you more details.

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At a Crossroads – Weekend Update!

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As you probably already read, the police did not come over the weekend nor have they come for a second time. The church boldly had it’s normal services. There were no interruptions. Thank you for praying!


OVER THE WEEKEND

With that being said here is a run down of the events for this weekend:

Friday: I met with the guys who are in training and we decided that it was best that I resign the church as the active pastor. Even if I end of staying in the city and going back to work at the church, this would allow the church members to honestly say they don’t have a foreigner as a pastor. So Friday evening, I sent the church members the following letter of resignation:

Dear Church,

I have been honored to be your pastor. I have seen many of you grow in the faith. Some of you I helped believe the gospel. Some of you I baptized. Some of you I helped understand the bible. Some of you I trained to preach. Together we planted a real local church.

The time has come for me to resign as the pastor of the church. The law in China doesn’t allow me as a foreigner to be your pastor. I know that we ought to obey God rather than men, and I hope that we will always do that. The Bible also gives examples of preachers moving on to other cities if they receive persecution. My continued leadership and attendance at the church will cause more problems for the church. If I resign, you shouldn’t experience those problems and can continue to build the church without hinderance.

I am praying that God will send you a pastor to help lead and guide you. I will help the church in every way possible, but I will no longer be the pastor of the church. Therefore, if the police ask if the church has a foreigner as a pastor, you can truthfully answer, “No.”

Whoever the pastor is, I will commit to training him and helping him to lead you, in the same way that I did.

I love you. Keep serving Jesus and building His church because He is worthy.

Also, two of the young men committed to leading the church and to continue the preaching and teaching until the church has a fulltime pastor (hopefully one of them with time).

Saturday: I left town and one of the guys from the church went to the police station to fulfill part of the request of the officers who came the Wednesday before. They wanted to know what we believe and wanted every who attends information. We obviously aren’t willing to give that information of everyone who attends, but we are willing to explain to them exactly what we believe. So that is what they did. At the end of their meeting, the church was given permissions to keep having services.

Saturday: The church had services with no interruptions. I was not at either of the services but in another city.


A COUPLE QUESTIONS

What does this mean? I don’t know. We are taking each day a step at a time.

But didn’t they give the church permission? Yes and no. The officer who he talked to said they could keep studying. Is there an underlying purpose for this, I hope not. But the local police station’s job is more to keep the unity among neighbors and to keep problems from arising. They don’t carry guns and they aren’t very intimidating. So the question is, what are they going to do with the information they attained? If they are required to file a report to the religious bureau, then we could have problems. That is what we are waiting to see. The religious bureau specializes in raiding the house churches and it is their job to keep the religious situation in China under control. Therefore, even if the local police don’t really care about the church, there is a good chance the religious bureau will if they find out.

What do they know about you? The local police station acquired more information about us from the talks, but nothing that gives away our identity yet. We are still praying for wisdom about our next step. Now, we are returning to our city and will continue training as we try to figure this out.

Next Step? As of now, we aren’t planning on attending any of the services but will be looking into doing something else for my family for the time being.

We still need your prayers.

Thank you.

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Weekly Mind Dump: The Up & Down

✪ Ministry in China is having its ups and downs right now. We have made some big changes to help things go forward, and we are seeing growth, but not without hindrances. To know what I am referring to, read this: At a Crossroads – Prayer Needed!

✪ This past Sunday – Tuesday we had a great conference with a visiting pastor from Harbin and several Christians from the churches there. Over the three days, we had three services, two workshops and two evangelism outreaches. We are excited to see the fruit of this meeting.

✪ I have laryngitis. I almost completely lost my voice and was down just to a whisper. It has been over a week, and I am just now starting to feel somewhat better after trying to not speak for a whole day.

✪ One of the young men that we started training has really stepped up and started serving in the church as much as he can. I am excited about what God has in store for him.

✪ Today, I am 30. Boo.

✪ We are going to be traveling this weekend to take the baby and wife to their doctor’s visit. Pray for safety as we travel.

✪ I meet with the guys tomorrow to discuss what our next step is. Pray for them and me as we try to be obedient, wise and bold. We are using these two days to consider our options and pray for God’s will to be done.

✪ In the midst of “the ups and downs” of ministry in China can I send out a plea for the need of more labourers. We need more labourers to come, preach the gospel, train men and plant churches. Will you come?

✪ Here is a two-part series I published in October of 2011 called: Foreigners Are a Problem! Here is an excerpt: “I agree that foreigners are a problem, and I said on deputation that the biggest hindrance to missions in China is me, a foreigner. I have come to China to work myself, eventually, out of a job. Lord willing, I can see many national pastors raised up in the lifetime that the Lord gives me.”

✪ Summary of prayer request for this week: (1) Wisdom in making decisions about our next step. (2) My health to recover. (3) Safety in traveling over the weekend. (4) More labourers to come to China. (5) Dalian Grace Baptist Church as they go through the trail together.

At a Crossroads – Prayer Needed!

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We are at a crossroads in the ministry. We have some hard decisions to make in the very near future, and we would like to ask for your prayer so we can continue to move forward wisely.

Here is the situation: This past Wednesday morning one of the guys who is training to possibly be a pastor in the future went to the church to study. When he arrived, there were five policemen waiting at the door of the church. Two were in uniform and three were not. They asked about the church, and they all entered together. The looked around asked some questions, told him that they church needs to register with the government, and took a few things small things that had information about the church on them. The police were nice, never said that we had to stop having services, didn’t confiscate anything and their main objection was that we are not registered.

Now, we have seen this situation played out many times. This could lead to a bigger raid by the religious bureau (which is what happened at our other church location when they confiscated the money, took people in for questioning, and told them they couldn’t have services) or it could just be a slap on the hand with no immediate consequences.

I was not there and so they don’t know me, but they do know that there is foreigner leadership in the church. Because of this, I have to believe they will not or can not agree to this and will make a reappearance at the church trying to catch us in the act of leading the church. Also, I was told by another Chinese pastor that the government is currently putting more effort into looking for house churches with foreigner involvement.

Why did they come? Most likely, it was a neighbor that called the police and reported us. I was going to write in the weekly mind dump, that I never got around to, to pray as we are in a new neighborhood, and there is always a chance of a neighbor not liking us or what we are doing. It just so happens, that this seemed to be the case. We think a little old lady reported us (you know the kind that thinks they are the neighborhood watch dog).

Anyways, this is the second time the police have come to one of the churches in our city. Both times I was absent, but they know my Chinese name and that I am involved, but that is it. They don’t actually know who I am.

So this leads us to the question, what is our next step? This is where we need prayer and wisdom.

We can conclude that being caught leading a church will most likely lead to deportation. This is a risk we are willing to take when we first move into a city because there is no church and no men trained, therefore it is our only option if we are wanting to start new local churches in China. But once we have some men trained, should our role change, and if so how? Can we take less risk once we have the ministry going, to stay and work in a training position, but not be the pastor of a church?

Also, currently, in China, the main problem in house churches seems to be foreign leadership. Our friends who were deported left churches who are still meeting at the same locations, same times and continue on without any major problems from the authorities.

So my thinking, at this time, is that if I remove myself from the church, then they can continue on in the same location without any major problems. I am not a threat to the Chinese being thrown in jail, but a threat to myself being deported from the country.

So we are at a crossroads. Here are the different ideas we have come up with:

  • If none of the men that we have been training are willing to step up and lead the church, then we can continue leading the church like normal and let things take its natural course.
  • Abandon the ministry for the sake of being able to stay in the country and start over. (I don’t think this is right and believe I would risk deportation before I abandoned them.)
  • Stop having services for several months and then start-up again when things cool down. (I don’t think this is right either)
  • One of the men that we are training will step up, be the pastor of the church and I will no longer attend regularly or be the pastor of the church, but move into a training position and give the majority of my time to training him and others who want to be pastors. This would allow them to report to the police that in accordance to registration requirements, they no longer have a foreigner as pastor. (What would my family do about going to church in this scenario?)
  • If none of the men that we have been training are willing to step up and lead the church, then we could find another young man who is finishing his training from another ministry to step into the position of pastor and I could continue in the city training him and others that are interested. Possibly, start another church in a different part of the city.
  • We could move the location of the church and chance it in another neighborhood. I would still be the pastor.
  • One of the men that we are training will step up, be the pastor of the church, and I move to Taiwan then make regular trips into the country to continue their training. I would start a church in Taiwan and have a border ministry for the mainland.
  • One of the men that we are training will step up, be the pastor of the church and I move to another city in China and start something new, but also make trips back to this city for continued training.
  • Any combination of the above ideas. (Note: We have guys that are in training, but not are fully ready like we would want.)

The hard part seems to be that if we continue like normal, that it will end in deportation sooner than later, so if that is true, what changes can we make to be effective, but also protect our ability to enter the country for training. Otherwise, if we are deported, we will be limited to training over Skype.

I told the guys here that it would be wise for us to go ahead and make plans now that would protect our ability to stay in the country and continue training, otherwise I could be deported and they would be completely on their own.

It seems that we have been given the opportunity to make a decision for our future. We are assuredly gathering their needs to be changes. Our strategy needs to evolve with the current actions and attitudes of the government toward true Biblical churches.

I asked the guys what we should do and they said, “keep meeting together as a church” so they will continue going forward, but what is our next specific role in all this? We need your prayers.

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China Church Plant Update

An update is finally here! We arrived back in the country on the 3rd of this month, and we are running at full steam. I haven’t written much or been able to put out many updates because of all the changes that are taking place. Our plans seem to keep evolving as we take each step.

I had a post drafted about the next step for our church “Grace” as they were finally going to be moving from renting a restaurant two hours a week to having their own place full-time. Then, since I drafted that post, plans changed again!

Everyone is a little confused on what is going on and which church is doing what (since plans are changing weekly) so this post will, hopefully, clear everything up.

A new direction for the churches: “Gospel B.C.” started on Sunday April 7, 2013 (17 months old). It has been the focal point of the ministry here in the city. The church started with my family and a couple Chinese contacts. It has slowly grown seeing some saved and baptized. “Grace B.C.” started on April 6, 2014 (5 months old) and was birthed out of a Bible study where we saw people getting saved and baptized. Starting this coming Sunday, September 28, 2014, Lord willing, we are going to merge these two small churches into a larger church. Gospel B.C. will be merging into Grace B.C. Therefore, after this Sunday we will only have Grace B.C., and it will be the new focal point of the ministry here.

We have wanted to do this for a long time, but the distance between the churches has kept us from going forward with it. Now, we have found a way to make it possible and we are excited about this new change.

About Dalian Grace Baptist Church: We started hosting preliminary Bible studies in October of 2013 with a group of young people who were 95% unbelievers. After teaching the gospel for several months, we started seeing people saved, baptized, and discipled. Then in 2014 we turned the Bible study into a church because of the distance it was from the other church.

Grace B.C. has never had their own building space. They have always been meeting in restaurants. When they were only a bible study, they rented a pizza place for an hour a week. Then when they became a church, they rented a banquet room in a Chinese restaurant for 2 hours.

The changes started because one of the goals, when we got back, was to find office space to be able to work from on a daily basis for studying and training. (A lot of our manpower is being raised up out of Grace and I wanted to be closer to where they lived. Previously, we were meeting outside or my house for our training time.) We couldn’t find anything suitable or affordable that was considered “official office space,” so we started looking at apartments.

We thought we might be able to find something to use as office space and church meeting space. Long story short, the last apartment we looked at was perfect for what we needed and more. The new location and size of the building we were going to rent started to cause us to think about what else we could change.

Also, since Grace B.C. was only meeting once a week, many of their members were going to the services at Gospel B.C. to get more teaching. At times, there would be more Grace people there than Gospel. This signified something needed to be changed.

The following thoughts led us to merge the two churches together:

  • Location: The new location helps meet the needs of both places. Even though, it is still considered “far” for those coming from the other part of town, we will no longer be renting a building over there and can help with the cost of their transportation.
  • Manpower: The lack of full-time manpower; I am the only one that is full-time now, therefore, I can only spend the majority of my time in one place. As a result one place was growing more than the other. On the other hand, we do have the manpower to take the church to the next level, since it isn’t only me serving now.
  • Training: We have a few young men who are considering full-time ministry. They are all from the same part of town. So I set up office in that part of town so I can be around and start training them more. We are slowly moving towards becoming a training center.
  • Fruit: We see more fruit in one part of town than the other. There could be many reasons for this, but we want to focus more of our time and efforts to where the harvest is.
  • Services: Gospel was meeting twice a week, Sunday night and Thursday night. Grace was meeting once a week on Sunday morning, for Sunday School and Worship. We weren’t able to start more at each location because of workers, but now that the churches are one, they will meet three times a week, Sunday morning for Sunday School and Worship, Sunday Night and Wednesday Night.
  • Culture: We have tried to figure out the culture of the city and see how expensive or cheap things should be done so it can be reproduced. We have started out the cheaper route but we are seeing we can do things nicer than before (and it goes with the culture of the city), so we are trying to go that route and make things more officially “churchish”.

How can you help? I am glad you asked!

As this young church takes a step of faith, we want to ask if you are willing to help through prayer and giving.

Will you choose at least one day a week to pray for Dalian Grace Baptist Church? If so, leave the day in the comments!

Will you be willing to give any amount to help this church go forward over the next year:

  • $4,800 – First Year’s Rent at $400 a month. (Can you give one month’s rent?)
  • $480 – 120 Bibles at $4.00 each. (Purchased!)
  • $308 – 44 Extra Chairs at $7 each.
  • $150 – Nursery/Kids Tables, Chairs, Furnishings.

Please sent all donations to Vision Baptist Missions, P.O. Box 442, Alpharetta, GA 30009 and write Dalian Grace Baptist Church in the memo.

Thank you in advance for praying and giving. We know that you will be a blessing as you always are. We couldn’t do this without the supporters like we have! God bless!