Big Things in Henan

It’s an amazing thought: a country with fewer people than Sydney and a Lutheran Church smaller than the NSW district hearing God’s mission call to China.

Mind you, if it comes to Singapore you expect it to be well thought through and well executed – and it is. The LCS decided to focus on Henan province. With 93 million people it’s the mostly heavily populated province in China. Why Henan? Because in the years between the World Wars Lutheran missionaries from the United States and Scandinavia were active there.

When the missionaries left with the coming of the communists, there were 70,000 Christians in Henan. Now there are 3 million registered with the Three Self Church and most likely an equal number who are unregistered (ie members of house churches).

Things happen in a big way in Henan province. The churches are big. The welcome is big. The commitment of the members is big. The sacrifices people make are big. The thirst for the word of God is big.

And that’s where the LCS plays its part. Every year two teams travel to the province to teach people who will become leaders in the church. In October 2007 LCS Bishop John Tan taught a class of 160 students at Zhou Kou Church Bible Training Centre about the theory and practice of preaching the law and the gospel. His wife Jean led classes on music and worship.

The students were from the September enrolment, and they were joined by another 260 in the November enrolment! That means crowded classrooms, unbelievably crowded dormitory accommodation with double bunk upon double bunk, meagre food, and Bible study upon Bible study.

Other courses taught by LCS pastors have focused on books of the New Testament, Christian education, counselling, church history and biblical interpretation. The thirst for learning is amazing and the willingness to sacrifice unbelievable – like that of the student who sold her hair for 80 to help pay her fees.

The teaching ministry is a great gift that the LCS brings to the people of the Henan province, and the LCA is grateful that it can work with such a partner church in its outreach.

This story was also published in the July 2008 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

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