He is the one we proclaim, admonishing & teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Everyone in China, Hong Kong, & Canada must be following closely with the news update on the Novel Coronavirus. There were a lot of people traveling between China & Germany during the Lunar New Year, therefore, in mid-January, our church already provided health/hygiene awareness guidelines to the congregation. Instead of the dumpling festival that usually took place on the Lunar New Year, we changed the gathering to a fasting prayer meeting. There were already 12 confirmed cases of nCoV in Germany. On one hand, we must do our due diligence to prevent the spread of the virus; on the other hand, we must continue to strengthen believers to stand firm in our faith despite the many trials in life. Let’s continue to pray earnestly together; praying for all the patients & their families; praying for all the front line health care professionals; may the Lord heal & have mercy on us; may the Lord bring peace & guard our spirits!
When a Strong Academic Commits to Christ…
Studying theology because she has an interest in it
Believers often perceive seminary students as having a special, intimate relationship with Christ. However, she has a different story. Initially, she was a student in China, who pursued a variety of studies in literature, philosophy, & science. She was looking for an answer to life, but couldn’t find it. After graduation, she applied to an evangelical Bible college oversea, searching purely for the truth in life. At the time, she was the only non-believer at the school. In the beginning, she felt awkward & pressured to become a believer. However, the teacher told her, “No rush, when you understand more, & hear His calling, you can respond then.” After one year at the school, she finally decided to commit to Christ. She returned to China for awhile. She wanted to pursue the study of the Bible further, so she applied for religious studies in a German university. In the beginning, she was intrigued by the many scientific based, philosophical debates. However, she later discovered that the debates did nothing in terms of spiritual growth. (Note: Religious studies in Germany are mostly non-evangelical.)
Thankfully, she has a seeking heart. When she arrived at our fellowship, she has a goal in mind: Commit to Church, Grow in Christ! Though she was a green believer, her background as an academic in theology was intimidating to some brothers & sisters. They were afraid of discussing topics of faith with her. However, instead of the analytical sharings & discussions in class, she actually cared more about practising faith in the church community, to share about the triumphs & the defeats in life’s journey. What we appreciated most was her humility: she was willing to attend the classes in Felain’s program for early believers, and joined other brothers & sisters in the many training sessions instructed by Lewis. In her serving (cooking for others in the kitchen), she learned to retreat to a less apparent position. At the same time, she humbly learned to lead Bible study, to further develop her gift. When a strong academic committed to become Christ’s disciple, what she aimed for was beyond the academic knowledge, she wanted to respond to Christ’s calling, & live out the truth in faith!
The Challenge from an Academic Critic
Another brother who also began to reflect on the meaning of life during his undergraduate studies, has a desire for the Truth like the deer who panteth for the water. Although, spiritual resources were limited in China, he still managed to read a large number of spiritual books by authors oversea. Moreover, he has an amazing memory & can recite verses referencing the direct source easily. He even left his country to pursue further theologian studies, as he has a strong interest in this area.
His first year of masters studies in Germany included language courses in Greek, Hebrews, & Latin. Adding to the challenge, all courses were instructed in German! The first semester was certainly difficult, but the most painful part wasn’t learning the languages, rather, it was having to listen to a non-Christian professor criticized the Old Testament. He was laughed at when he reviewed the Bible in class… Thankfully, the Spirit guided him through the experience & reminded him to reflect on his journey of faith: What is the foundation of my faith? How is my relationship with Christ? Was my faith built upon academic knowledge or spiritual growth? When a strong academic commits to the Lord of life, he discovered that he actually yearned for more than what the books can bring. He surrendered to the Lord, seeking His will: instead of “I want to study Theology.”, he learned to ask, “What does God want me to study?”; restarting his journey by seeking Him first!
PhD Graduate’s Journey Back to China
One PhD graduate returned to China 1.5 year ago, due to tension in the country, it took several referrals before she could find a spiritual home to settle. She spent 10 years studying oversea, & returned to China to become a University instructor. The cultural shock of her return was immediate, she shared, “Deceitful relationships, misleading conversations, & unethical politics; academics can also be corruptive & sneaky in practice – competing to release thesis paper ahead of others… May the Lord deliver me from temptations, & teach me how to be wise as serpent but innocent as doves.” As a recent believer, she has yet to learn to lay her burdens on Christ & pray to Him for all things. Praise the Lord, for all of His love & faithfulness flow to those who need them, despite the spiritual state of the believer. She heard the Holy Spirit in many instances, e.g. (1) “You must go to Bible study today.”At the same night, her apartment caught fire, & her unit was damaged. She escaped from a fire! (2) “Bring your dad to see the specialist”, then she found out that her dad who’s a chronic-diabetic patient received the newest pharmaceutical treatment, & greatly improved his health.
At the end of an academic semester, one student came & showed appreciation, “Our class sees the passion in your teaching. You are different from other professors, as your lectures have depth, & you taught with your heart.” Not only did our Father gave her a solid confirmation, He also guided her to a mission as an educator: share her gift as an educator, love the students, & practice the love of God.
Although circumstances only allowed her to be a hidden Christian, yet when a strong academic committed to Christ; God will use her to bless those around her. Her profession allowed her to reach out to different academics. Through the sharing of life experiences & the transfer of knowledge, she would refer them to other local family churches to further explore the faith. The greatest grace of all was the fact that she guided 3 family members to Christ herself!
Germany is of no shortage of excellent academics, doctorals, & visiting faculties. We are seeing God’s work in them, raising a generation of Paul’s & Apollo’s (people with great knowledge & great gifts). However, when God molds His workers, He will chisel & hammer to shape them up for the journey. Göttingen & Kassel may only be a small part of their growth journey, but May God use & equip those who belongs to Him, in His timing.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me & I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
- New Ministry Coworkers & Small Group Leaders: Both locations have a total of 4 new co-workers on the ministry team. May the Lord unite all in one Spirit, so the new & old members can adjust & learn from each other, in preparation of those who will be graduating & leaving in the later half of the year.
- New Year, New Direction: The limited resources in the field, the high turnover of people in the congregation, & our limited time & energy, made it challenging when prioritizing amongst the many initiatives: Evangelical programs, Follow-up courses, Student/Family/Children Ministry, & Individual mentorship. We don’t want to be drained out; we need our Heavenly Father to give us strength physically, emotionally, & spiritually.
- Believers’ Commitment to Christ & Church: Many members are working on their graduation paper & will start job searching soon. May God give them wisdom to glorify Him on their academics, & may the Lord prepare the appropriate jobs for them. Most importantly, may the Lord guard their hearts & minds, so they may prioritize their time correctly for God & for Church, despite the stress & high workloads.
- Upcoming Series for Adult Sunday School – “Sexuality was originally Holy” Through this series, may the Lord takes believers back to the Bible teachings, to correct the wrong social values on sexuality. [If] those who are married, in a committed relationship, or in general personal life are weak & have sinned against God, may they come to realization & repent. May they have strength & grace from God to live a life of holiness.
- 4/9-13 Easter Germany Chinese Christian Discipleship Camp: May God motivates believers from each city to rise up, & commit as disciples, responding to Christ’s calling in their young years. Felain will be leading a workshop in the Retreat – Discernment of Spirits. Each time she prepares sharing on this topic, she faces spiritual attacks. Please remember her in your prayers, may the Holy Spirit guard & protect, be present to remind the congregation of reverence towards God.
- Start of a New Semester Beginning in mid-April, may the Lord lead new believers & those interested in our faith to church, & use our brothers, sisters, & fellowship to bless the students in Germany.