Guangzhou, China — Chen Ruifen, a 25-year-old preacher, was deeply encouraged by a recent Bible equipping course on “The Chinese Bible – From Manuscript to Chinese Union Version” for alumni of Guangdong Theological Seminary. It was organised by the seminary with the support of United Bible Societies and conducted by UBS Translation Consultant, Dr Simon Wong.
“God has amazingly preserved the Bible these past few thousand years throughout the history of manual copying and translation of the Scriptures. After learning about the biblical text development, I have more confidence to approach the variants in the different Bible translations. When interpreting the Bible, I could select the appropriate Bible translations for references and supplement my understanding of the text,” shared Chen.
Chen is one of China’s 48,000 preachers assisting pastors in shepherding of millions of believers across China. In light of the need for continuous theological reflection and learning, UBS is partnering with seminaries and Churches in China to conduct relevant Bible equipping courses for her full-time ministers and Bible teachers.
Due to the lack of workers in church, preachers like Chen often find themselves serving in multiple roles. Besides preaching on Sundays, she also sings in the choir, serves as the pianist, leads Bible study, does writing and editing, and facilitates various fellowship groups.
Therefore, being able to attend Bible equipping courses is important and refreshing for Chen. “Through the understanding of the biblical background, I could better explain the original intention of the authors and help believers to apply the Scripture more aptly. I will certainly recommend this course to my fellow preachers and co-workers,” Chen said. She also hoped that more equipping courses on the historical, religious and cultural contexts of the Bible could be taught to preachers like her to gain a deeper understanding of the Scripture.
Whilst being equipped, Chen had doubts about her own abilities to serve the church. But God’s comfort and reminder always come at the right time to her through 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV), “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ ”
“Serving the church is not dependent on my limited self but trusting that God will work with and through me,” Chen humbly shared. Another Bible verse that keeps Chen pressing on in her ministry is 1 Peter 4:8 (ESV), “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Like many preachers, there had been moments of discouragement when Chen felt misunderstood or overwhelmed by challenges in her ministry, but thankfully God always reminds her of His truths from His Word at the right time and helps her adjust her mindset.
With a national average ratio of ordained pastor to believer at 1:6700 and frequent suspension of church services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, please pray that more training could be organised for the Churches in China to nurture their leaders.
Story: May Ang
Photo: UBS CP
2022@UBS China Partnership