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Sichuan Pastor’s Retreat


Chinese pastors often work in isolation with few resources for many years.

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Pastor’s retreat in Chengdu gives pastors a chance to learn together.

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February 13, 2009
-Jeanette Hanson

Vancouver — In China large congregations with several thousand members are served by only one pastor who receives little or no support from external sources. Graduates from seminaries across China accept this as part of their job description and work alone for years, without the opportunity to meet, learn from, or share with others.

On November 1-5, 2008, church leaders provided the opportunity for pastors to come away and rest, just as Jesus invites his disciples to do in Mark 6:31. Ninety-six grassroots pastors and church leaders gathered in Chengdu, Sichuan to worship, pray, and share their experiences with each other.

Guest speakers addressed issues of church administration, strengthening the connections between rural and urban churches, and the development of a church-run social service projects.

Retreat organizer Peter Yuan wrote that the presentation on Church Administration shared a great deal of how-to information for engaging believers in activities of the church. He observed how the retreat discussions offered encouragement to pastors who often rely on their own strength to carry out all necessary tasks within their congregations.

One of the speakers, Pastor Sun, referred to Jesus’ teaching about salt and light, saying, “Care for the poor is at the very heart of the message of Jesus Christ.” Sun said that in today’s Chinese churches, there is a large disparity between the urban congregations and the rural congregations in every aspect, from material conditions to mission and Bible training. “Our church is one Body in the Lord. We must aid and assist each other.”

Both speakers drew from their experiences in church leadership, offering encouragement to retreat participants, most of whom have never had the opportunity to engage in practical ministry training and theological teaching. Yuan said that most participants urged leaders to hold a similar event at least every two years. “Everyone also expressed that this type of retreat not only gave their bodies rest and refreshment but more importantly tended to their spirits,” he said.

For only the cost of bus tickets, food and lodging, these pastors received a gift that will encourage and refresh them for further work in their congregations. For those pastors without adequate resources, Mennonite Partners in China was able to provide assistance with the support of Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Mission Network, Eastern Mennonite Missions and Mennonite Central Committee.