~ Erik and Kim Free
Sunday, August 12, 2012
~ Erik and Kim Free
Friday, August 10, 2012
This week has been going by so quickly. It was a new hotel every night for a few days as we ended our time in the SEP program and began our journey with the China Christian Council (CCC). Meeting so many new people for the first time, and then saying goodbye, has taken it's toll and I have gone to writing things down as my memory for names and places is becoming jumbled. Still, I am learning so much about the situation of the church in China and the CCC. It was a delight to visit the Gospel Church in Zhoukou with Pastor Jiao. There was a music class in session during our visit and we got to see their agricultural training center. It was also a surprise when our group got invited to tour the Gospel Hospital that was opened a few years ago on the church property. It has been steadily growing and has a specialist for respirator and gastrointestinal medicine. They also have an emergency room that services the community and sees around 100 people a day. They were proud to report that 80% of the hospital staff are members of the church. The doctors' and nurses' uniforms had red Chinese crosses embroidered by their names and above the doors in Chinese was a saying about God's love and the hospital's love for the patients.
The church and training center has also been seeing growth. This is a unique Christian Bible school and training center, as the government recognizes the certificates earned there because of the computer technology and agricultural technology classes that are included in the instruction. They teach this way because most of the people attending the school are coming from the surrounding farms. These classes help them to be able to live a more self-sustaining life by farming the land they live on. The school also provides continuing education courses for the lay leaders of the surrounding churches in a program that lasts 5 years. Most of the churches here do not have their own pastors and rely on lay ministers and elders to lead the church. The program offers training on running a church and Bible knowledge. This course helps to prevent heresy and cults from developing in the church by increasing the standards of religious education of the church leaders.
We still have a few more days here, more places to go and people to see. I am excited that the church is doing so well in China and look forward to coming home and sharing what we have learned.