Sunday, November 16, 2008

Caption: International students and workers attend church conference in China. Jeffers stands at the far left with a glass in his head. Pic courtesy by Jeffers.

Papua New Guinean: President of Christain students in China

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.

International Church

One Sunday, Sandrine took four of us to a church. The church is called Shenyang International Christians Fellowship (

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.

Chinese Church

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 (, 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.

Students Ministry

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.
I go there often now and want to become an instrumental part of God's presence here in China. I have started to attend the Chinese service as well now!

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.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is officially atheist, but it has been growing more tolerant of religious activity for the past twenty years.
China's constitution explicitly allows "freedom of religious belief," and in 2005, the State Council passed new guidelines broadening legal rights for state-sanctioned groups.
In March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recognized these efforts and removed China from the State Department's list of top human rights violators
Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution says that Chinese citizens "enjoy freedom of religious belief."
It bans discrimination based on religion, and it forbids state organs, public organizations, or individuals from compelling citizens to believe in—or not to believe in—any particular faith.
In 2005, the State Council passed new Regulation on Religious Affairs, which allow religious organizations to possess property, publish literature, train and approve clergy, and collect donations as long as they have registered with the state.
According to Chinese criminal law, officials who deny citizens of their right to religious belief can be sentenced up to two years in prison.But religious freedom is still not universal in China.
The state only recognizes five official religions—Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism—and considers the practice of any other faith illegal.
Religious organizations are required to register with one of five state-sanctioned patriotic religious associations, each of which is supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA).
Religious groups that fail to affiliate with one of the five official religions are denied legal protection under Chinese law.Well, its better to start somewhere then never at all.
During the recent Olympic Games, the Olympic Committee distributed bibles to international visitors and designated venues for worship, a clear indication of China’s respect for religion.
After 30 years of economic reform and opening up, China has also progressed in religious freedom.