GUIYANG, China - At 33 years old, Wang Ke is a third year student at Guizhou Bible School, and he stands out as one of the oldest among his classmates who are in their early twenties.
"I started school late, at 11. When I was in first grade, I was already the tallest and oldest," he recalled with a hearty laugh. As it turns out, his delayed milestones in life helped him to grow in maturity.
Wang’s Calling to Preach the Word
One unforgettable experience for Wang took place when he attended a church camp at the age of 18. "One morning at 5 o'clock, during our routine morning prayer,” Wang shared, “I had a vision of a person holding a torch about to burn my mouth. He said to me, 'From now on, use this mouth to speak only God's words and not filthy language.' I screamed, woke up, felt convicted to stop using foul language, and to preach the Word."
“I had a vision of a person holding a torch about to burn my mouth. He said to me, 'From now on, use this mouth to speak only God's words and not filthy language.' I screamed, woke up, felt convicted to stop using foul language, and to preach the Word."
Raised in a devout Christian family, Wang had developed a desire to study theology. However, when his older brother expressed the same aspiration, he selflessly encouraged him to pursue it first. Wang knew the financial strain on their family if he were to also pursue seminary studies at the same time.
For several years, Wang took on various odd jobs, from coal mining to delivering packages, to cutting stones for house renovation. Three years ago, Wang returned home from migrant work and began serving as a lay preacher at his church. Before long, his church elders suggested he attend Bible school to be better equipped. Wang hesitated due to family responsibilities as he is now a father of three children. However, God reminded him of his calling to preach the Word. He obeyed and enrolled into Guizhou Bible School.
Having served as a lay preacher, Wang appreciates what he is learning at the Bible School where he is able to delve deeper into the Word, acquire ministry skills and learn from teachers and fellow students at the Bible School. Recently, Wang and his fellow Bible School students had another reason to be happy - they were recipients of biblical resources given by Guizhou Christian Council/TSPM with the support of the United Bible Societies (UBS).
Receiving Help to Preach the Word
The set of biblical resources, consisting of the Chinese Study Bible (CSB) and the Gospel of John Commentary Series, has proven to be indispensable for Wang who juggles between studies and some preaching duties at his church.
He shared that as a lay preacher he sometimes feels lost when interpreting the Bible, unsure of how to approach difficult passages. "We would use whatever materials we could find and sometimes we just followed what other preachers said in the sermon collections, without knowing if they were right or wrong." He added, “Historical backgrounds were seldom discussed. We would usually read a Bible passage and try to preach based on what we know."
Wang gives an example of misinterpretation: "A verse in Romans 12:13b says, '客要一味款待’ (“seek to show hospitality”)*. In the past, we took it literally as cooking dishes with only one flavour when hosting guests." He chuckled, feeling a bit embarrassed.
Wang is thankful he now has reliable and authoritative commentaries to study and refer to, and he can preach from the Bible more confidently. He said, "I will consult the CSB and other commentaries to understand the historical and cultural context of Bible passages, which is vital for faithful preaching."
"I will consult the Chinese Study Bible and other commentaries to understand the historical and cultural context of Bible passages, which is vital for faithful preaching."
Indeed, these books are particularly valuable for Bible School students from rural areas in China who have little means to buy them and where biblical resources at Bible Schools are usually limited. "I would have to work really hard and save up for a long time to buy these reference books. Thanks to our church and UBS for providing these useful resources," Wang said with gratitude.
It is heartening to see how the provision of biblical resources has impacted people like Wang, who tirelessly serve their local churches. Let us continue to make these valuable resources available to the many preachers and Bible School students in China to help them preach the Word.
*In Chinese, the phrase “客要一味款待” means “guests should always be treated well” but the characters “一味” by themselves can mean “one flavour.”
Story: Marcus Xiao
Edited by: Cynthia Oh
2023@UBS China Partnership