By Mathew Yakai, Changchun, China
ON AUGUST 19 2008, I did a commentary based on my first church experience in Changchun, China and how awesome an experience.
In any foreign land or new places one visits, any moment is an history in ones life. That’s what I have shared.
But it’s not only me experiencing the wonderful moment of fellowship in God. There are hundreds, even thousand foreigners who treat China as their second home.
In the group of these foreigners, Papua New Guinea （PNG） and Pacific islands students in China also enjoy fellowship.
One such Pacific Islanders is Jeffers Teargun Heptol from PNG. Jeffers comes from Papayuku Village in Laiagam Dist, Enga Province.
The proud son of Teargun tribe. He told me that his tribe loves peace. He was born there, just like another village boy, raised and attended Papayuku Primary School in 1988.
“Its a place where many of our great leaders like Paul Torato were trained,” he proudly admitted.
I agree because I have worked and known great educated Engans who look after important offices in PNG till today.
But Jeffers is no ordinary students in China under the Chinese Government Scholarship. He is a committed Christian and President of the Northern Region Christian Students in China.
Being a President coordinating activities for Christian students in China who come from different cultural and ethnic background is not easy for him but with Gods wisdom, he manages well.
This is beside the fact that he is doing his masters in Electronics, Power Systems and Automation at Northeastern University, one of those tough courses he can go through in Chinese language.
“Well, as PNG is taping into mining and gas projects like LNG, I know that I will be a valuable asset to contribute meaningfully to the economy of PNG. Now in this 21st century, the economies of the countries are depending on Technology.”
“I would like to be the Technologist to help my country in this Technology field. I am also learning IT and other related courses,” admits one of proud PNG sons.
Leaving home, his family, tribe and country, Jeffers believes that God is always around to take care of him. Given his special designation as President of the Northern Region Christian Students in China, I asked him to share his experience with you.
I hope his experience in China, a great nation with the fastest economic growth will be of blessings to you. Below he goes;
How I started
To start with, I had no idea about church existence in China before I came. For the first four weeks of my stay in Shenyang, I had my own worship services in my room.
It was exciting and joyous to conduct a fellowship by myself alone. I woke up every Sunday morning and got dressed not to go elsewhere.
Sometimes, I would prepare the communion just for myself. After reading a scripture from the Bible, I would explain it to myself in detail.
There were some Christian classmates in my class too. One time, I asked if they could come to my room and have fellowship together.
One Central African girl called Sandrine started attending an International Church in the city as soon as she arrived.
She knew some of her friends who were in Shenyang before and they introduced the church to her.
While I was asking them, she assured that we would be in the church next Sunday. Sandrine could only speak French so she could hardly communicate with us for the first four weeks that I have been conducting the worship service in my room.
One Sunday, Sandrine took four of us to a church. The church is called Shenyang International Christians Fellowship (www.syicf.org).
The worship service starts at 3.30pm in the afternoon until 5pm. I was so joyous to worship God with the people of God.
It was amazing. I couldn’t believe that foreigners could come in the center of a big 6th floor building to worship God.
God opened my eyes to see how great He is to establish a church in the heart of the city for the worshippers to worship Him.
There were about 70 to 100 foreigners attended the church. Now the number has increased to 200 foreigners.
As I began to attend the church regularly, the elders saw my desire and passion to serve God. They selected me to be in the leadership of the church which I am still serving even today.
The fastest growing church in the world is the Chinese church. Thousands of people come to know the Lord each day. Thanks to the government for the policy for the freedom of religion.
In Shenyang city alone, there are about 15 to 20 churches. One of the churches is the same place where foreigners’ are.
Chinese conduct their worship service from 1.00pm to 2.30pm. The church would be packed to capacity. I have attended many times and it was exciting to know people worshiping God.
The government’s rule is that foreigners are allowed to attend Chinese church while Chinese are not allowed in the foreigners’ worship.
Churches in other cities
It is indeed amazing to see churches are established everywhere in China.
We have International Christian churches in Beijing, Nanjing (www.nicfellowship.org), Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Dalian to name a few.
Most of these cities have two to three foreign churches where all the foreigner passport holders are allowed to attend.
Most of these foreign churches are made up of foreign students studying in China. Every year the students’ numbers is increasing.
Majority of these are from Africa and second to them is Pacific Islanders and other Asian countries.
Every year, we have two conference; summer and winter. Because of the student population, the northern region (includes Beijing, Shenyang, Tianjin, Dalian, Jinan) has its own conference and it also applies to southern region.
Southern part includes Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hanzhou to name a few. These conferences are funded by the city churches mentioned above.
Both north and south regions have their own executives to run at the regional level. There is only one central committee that overseas both regional executive functions.
By the grace of God, I was appointed as the President of the Northern Regional Executive. I oversee the student fellowships in some of the universities in the north.
One landmark event was that, we invited Evangelist Joseph Kingal from PNG as a guest speaker in 2007 summer conference in Shenyang.
All of us are not called to become pastors, evangelists, apostles nor preachers. But all of us are called into the Great Commission.
You have a role to play to build His Kingdom collectively. Wherever you are, be the light and the salt.
God is opening the doors into this land, and when God opens it, who is the man that dares to close it?
We must be counted in this hour. Where there seems no way, God will make a way.
Showers of blessings upon PNG. Jeffers Teargun Heptol, President of the Northern Region Christian Students, PR China.
Donald Singh's testimony. He’s from Fiji Island and studies in China.
I went to this BICF with Albert. Upon reaching the door, we were supposed to show our passports. I didn't carry mine so showed my BLCU student ID and got in.
As I looked around inside the Church from where I was seated, I saw various races, dressed in various ways.
This was unlike back at home where we have to "dress up" for Church and cannot go without plain white or very formal looking attire.
Well, I was not so impressed until the service began. The music team led very well, like the team from my Church back in Sigatoka in Fiji (Rose of Sharon AOG).
There was much power in the words of the preachers. They were preaching about real time issues. It was a real Church, which I had not expected.
Writer’s background note
According to Council on Foreign Relations, religious observance in China is on the rise.
A survey published in a state-run newspaper, 31.4 percent of Chinese adults are religious, a figure that is three times the initial government estimate.