Shandong, China - It is amazing how joining a Bible learning group can prove to be life-changing. Lu Fengqing, 61, is among the first batch of group leaders in a church in Feicheng County, Shandong Province, who participated in a small Bible learning group. Little did she realise that it would change her life and many around her.
The Bible learning group was based on the Abundant Grace and Abundant Life discipleship curriculum published by the China Christian Council/ TSPM. These discipleship resources were distributed to the church by Shandong Christian Council/ TSPM with the support of United Bible Societies (UBS).
“Since the very beginning of our study, believers have tasted the grace of the Lord. We come to appreciate that the Word of God truly is more valuable than gold, sweeter than honey,” Lu explained. She also shared how the local churches witnessed the benefits of the small group discipleship study and started to scale up their efforts.
However, as there weren't enough copies of the textbooks initially, the church managed in a variety of ways. Lu's groups, for example, used pencils to fill in the students' books so people in other groups could recycle the books. Still, other groups hand-copied the materials!
Like a Christian Faith Literacy Class
A strong sense of eagerness was felt among the participants. Lu said many expressed that it was a pity that they hadn't studied this discipleship material earlier. "Now that I am 61, it’s difficult to remember a lot of things. I think if we had studied this material a few years earlier, we would have a better understanding of our faith."
“For some of us, our understanding of the Bible is limited to what we have picked up in the church. Some of us don’t know, for example, why we need to tithe on a regular basis. We didn’t have a clear biblical perspective,” she said with a smile.
"The group study program was like a Christian faith literacy class. Through this study, we now understand the significance of giving offerings in the church."
Energized to Serve in Church
Furthermore, a renewed hunger for Scripture has developed among them. Bible reading used to be considered a spiritual checklist item by believers, she said. It's different now.
As Lu introduced the books of the Bible to the Abundant Grace study groups, people listened with great interest and fascination. They would say to Lu, “Please slow down,” as they diligently took notes.
Now, believers enjoy reading their Bibles. They began to examine the meaning of a certain passage with tips introduced in the discipleship books and shared their insights to mutually encourage one another.
With this, believers' lives are edified, and they become inspired to serve in the church. “Praise God that my group members have now taken part in some church ministries. On Sundays, you can see them arriving early in anticipation of their opportunities to serve.”
More amazingly, some have begun to lead their own small Bible learning groups. Lives are changed, and positive energies are overflowing in the church through these small Bible learning groups. Praise God!
Personal Life Change
Even as a group leader, Lu continues to experience the transforming power of the biblical truths taught in the discipleship book.
An example is her relationship with her husband. "In the past, I used to think I was always right, and I had hardly said anything good about him.” Lu confessed with a delightful laughter that being competitive in her personality, she seldom admitted she could be wrong.
"The topic of repentance, however, convinced me that pride is my spiritual stronghold and one of the areas I need to work on."
Now she would seek out her husband and other people for advice and apologize when necessary. “It’s not shameful to admit I could be wrong after all,” she grinned.
“This course not only helps us to serve better in the church but also makes us better people and family members.”
"Thank God! We appreciate UBS for making the Abundant Grace and Abundant Life series available to us! I am really grateful."
Story: Marcus Xiao and Cynthia Oh
Photos: UBS CP
2023©UBS China Partnership