July, 2004, was the year for Virginia Baptist
administrators and church leaders to visit China, to re-establish
relationships with Chinese Christian leaders, to introduce staff and
church leaders to the new officials of the China Christian Council, and to
learn about the current issues and thinking of Chinese Christian leaders.
Jerry Jones arrived first so he could go to Nanjing
to meet with Amity staff about current and future opportunities for
cooperation. Then, John and Deborah Upton and Jim and Debbie Baucom
arrived for a combined meeting with Rev. Cao Shengjie, president of the
China Christian Council and Rev. Deng Fucun, vice-president of the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement organization. Perusing the selections in the
CCC bookstore, we found copies of the recently released Jesus film in VCD
form, with stand-alone disks as inexpensive as 65 cents, and a version
with disks and bilingual book of Luke only slightly more.
Following the meeting at the national headquarters
of the CCC were sightseeing excursions and church visits in Shanghai. Our
guide, a minister of Community Church, took us to a public Christian
bookstore near downtown Shanghai.
Then came a trip to Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang
Province, which has a large number of Christians, necessitating church
building, a new seminary, and the development of many new pastors and
leaders. We put on hard hats and had a tour of a church building under
construction. When completed, it will seat 5000 worshippers. A companion
building will serve as a major training center for the province.
Suzhou also is a city of great beauty and tradition,
as well as being one of the cities in Jiangsu Province with a training
school and many believers. John preached in the Sunday morning service
before the group went on to the BWA meeting in Seoul. A sightseeing
excursion took us to Zhou Zhuang, a traditional southeast China village
built in the Ming Dynasty style, with water transportation being the main
means of getting around.