Recently I was asked to give an update on our most recent church planting training event in Hong Kong which took place in early November. The event is part of an indigenous movement of urban house churches that we at the China Partnership have helped give birth to over the last 3 years.
Here is an excerpt from my update:
The HK Grace to City Gospel Movement (GTC) conference went in early November. Nearly 400 people attended from over 160 house churches in roughly 50 different cities in China to hear 2 American pastors speak on Gospel Centered Preaching. There were also various workshops led by both Chinese and Americans on subjects such as Seminary, church polity, Legal issues and How to Be a Christian in the Work Place.
As far as I know everyone who registered was able to come except a few with either health issues or other unexpected issues. I don’t know of anyone who was stopped at the airport or otherwise blocked from coming.
The majority of the attendees (roughly 60%) have been through at least the basic Gospel DNA training given by our 3 North American Chinese pastors.
We are amazed at how God is using the ministry we are part of here. It literally has far exceeded our most optimistic expectations and figuratively had “blown our minds” to see how God has been working in us and through to see this fruit.
Monday, April 22, 2013
A quick word of thanks to all of you who have expressed concern for us as a result of the earthquake. We are all fine. We woke up on Saturday morning to a room shaking around but the tremors only lasted 20 seconds. I’m told the big quake in 2008 lasted nearly 2 1/2 minutes.
Here are some photos:
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Recently I’ve been reading a book by Paul Tripp entitled Dangerous Calling with some of my co-workers. This message of this book and some other recent events in my life have been a reminder of our need to be humbling depending on God to enable us to deal with the presence of indwelling sin. Full time ministry can often drive one to become less transparent and less willing to let others see our “dirty laundry” but the need is all-the-greater when you are serving in the ministry. It has been a fresh reminder of how desperately we are in need of daily refreshment from our Lord and Savior. I wish I could say that this fresh reminder of my need for Him has enabled me to completely stop sinning. This is not the case. As we all know the battle still rages but the extra strength that comes from knowing we are weak and need to depend on the Holy Spirit, is causing for much rejoicing and celebration.
The things that God has allowed us to accomplish over the last 3 years have encouraged us as well. We just finished the first semester of the second year of our seminary and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching a 30 hour class on Pastoral Care in the course of 5 days. I was exhausted but grateful God gave me the strength and enabled me to speak clearly despite the challenges of doing it in Chinese.
In addition we have seen the Lord bless the gathering of several churches in our city to form a presbytery for mutual strength and accountability. Despite the police coming to the opening meeting we were blessed that the work remains unhindered. We are confident that the authorities know exactly what the churches are doing but are not obstructing these meetings. We have seen him do some truly amazing things here in our city but Luke 10:17-20 reminds us that our greatest cause for rejoicing is that our names are written in heaven.
The picture on our Facebook accounts and on our recent email newsletter are from a family trip that we took at the beginning of April. The boys had one week off from school and so we went to a national park. The night we arrived it snowed and the kids were ecstatic. They haven’t seen snow since they left the US (the winter before we moved here we had a blizzard with 2 feet of snow in February). The clear blue water and beautiful mountains were a wonderful reminder of God’s handiwork. The park is situated at about 9,000 feet above sea level and the mountains extend beyond that.
Our family continues to battle the air pollution. Recently we have “fought back” with indoor air filters and face masks. These have made a significant difference. The air filters are pretty noise-free but the face masks make us look a little scary.
Sat, December 22, 2012
Recently we have been meditating on the ministry here and have been blessed to be able to talk to church leaders in other cities. In our discussions with church leaders in different cities throughout China we have been impressed that what is happening here in our city is truly nothing short of amazing. This is both exciting and incredibly humbling. The excitement comes from being able to do things we love like theological education, church leadership training and helping the local church ordain ministers and organize a presbytery.
The humbling aspect comes in two ways. One, is that we are humble that God has been pleased to include us in this work. We know that we are sinful and we are daily humbled by our sinfulness, lack of passion for God’s purposes and our own pridefulness. Why would God choose us for this work? Why would God choose any of us? It’s a huge privilege. The second reason we feel humbled is that we feel a responsibility to help those in other places who are lacking some of the resources we have here. How do we do that? We ourselves have limited resources, even though we may have more than those in other cities, so how should we help others? We need to recognize our limitations and trust the Lord to give us that help.
We are also tasked with shepherding local expats and this is a privilege and blessing as well but there are also challenges. Time and resources are always limitations in any pastoral ministry and we have to remind ourselves that our shepherding role is different than the role of our savior. We need wisdom, grace and patience in all we do. Only the Good Shepherd can provide that for us. Being in union with Him is primary.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with our friends who live in Dali and we were surprised by the wonderful meal that we were able to enjoy including ham, green bean casserole, biscuits, and pumpkin pie.
Thurs, Oct 17, 2012
I’ve discovered editing this page isn’t quite as easy in my part of the world as I anticipated. With a major leadership change going on right now internet speeds are amazingly slow. My guess is that there is extra vigilance going into monitoring the contents of the internet. I’m currently in the US at a conference. It’s nice to be able to have internet access that is both relatively unmonitored and speedy.
We are gearing up for a new semester of seminary classes. Our students are finishing up their third semester of Greek now and in November will be take a full-load of coursework beginning with Biblical Theology, moving on to Preaching, then Hebrew and finally Genesis-Joshua. Our enrollment has surpassed 50 students and our 30 student classroom limit is really feeling quite restrictive. The limit in classroom size is due to a very simple factor…our one and only classroom can only fit 30 students at any given time.
This is a good “problem” because it means the seminary is really meeting a very real need in the church. I hope you’ll join us in praying for this need.
We welcomed a new family and a single co-worker in July/August and they are now in the throws of language study. Chinese is not an easy language to learn. Pray that they would be able to learn well and apply what they are learning to their daily lives.
In addition we are all engaged in helping out with a bible study group which is an outreach to students. This bible study group is part of a local house church that we partner with in the city. Our hope is not primarily to help out with leading the group but to equip the volunteers in the group with the tools to lead it on their own. This can take a while so we are hoping that the Lord will give us patience and perseverance.
Many student outreach bible studies are independent and not connected to any particular church. We are blessed to be working with a group that is part of the local church so that when students make a profession of faith they not only have a bible study group to attend but a church family to welcome them into the Kingdom.
We’ve recently discovered an iPhone app that tells us the air quality in our city…it’s not pretty. We are regularly breathing semi-toxic air as are the other 12 million residents of this city. It’s no wonder that our two older boys have developed asthma. The good news is that recently we went to see the Chinese medicine doctor. This doctor came to us highly recommended by a friend. After the two boys saw him the doctor prescribed some Chinese medicine. Two weeks after taking the medicine they are nearly symptom-free. What a blessing.
Sat, August 11, 2012
We live in a place where the government does not like blogs. They restrict access to most blogs that are outside of the direct control of the government. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are also not accessible unless you use a VPN (virtual private network), a piece of software that allows you to connect with a server outside the country. All this is to say that if you are reading this, you probably don’t live near us which is exactly the point of writing this blog. We hope to keep you updated on the latest Mountfort news using this venue. Please make sure your comments are in keeping with the sensitivities and themes shared in this space.
Blogging is somewhat new for us so please be patient. We may not always respond directly to the things you post but we’ll try our best to interact with you somehow. In keeping with the spirit of the blog we’d like to share some “random” musings on what we’ve been up to the last 2 years.
Recently we have been struck by our own unworthiness in being called to this work. The challenges of those we serve are sometimes overwhelming and we are reminded how important it is that we have such amazing local partners whose influence and impact are significant in this city. One of our partners is a book publisher who we recently worked with to publish a translation of a text book that we are now using in our seminary. Another partner is a pastor who has significant influence through his writings. He has recently published a book on the church that is being read both here and abroad. These two men have literally been dropped in our lap and over the last two years we have developed a close friendship with them and their wives.
This has confirmed and shaped our philosophy of ministry in deep and significant ways. We realize that if anything we do here is not connected with local believers and the local church, there will be no continuation, sustainability or lasting significance. We have witnessed the affects of expats who labor for years only to come to the end of their time here with nobody to hand their work off to and no way of allowing their work to continue.
We’ll probably include more on this subject later but for now we’d simply like to express our gratitude to the Lord for putting us in the right place at the right time. We have been blessed with a truly amazing ministry opportunity and we really are greatly humbled and challenged. Please pray for us that we’d continue to operate by the power of the Holy Spirit in humility while rising to the challenges presented to us.