Seminaries reopen in China – but where are the students?

China (MNN) — While most of the world is still in the trenches with COIVID-19, some regions are starting to look to the future. China, once ground zero for the pandemic, has seen loser lockdown restrictions and fewer cases as the country attempts to move back toward regular life.

That includes seminaries that China Partner is in contact with. Teachers are preparing materials for the fall, schools are discussing safe opening plans, and pastors are ready to get back to training a new generation of Christian leaders.

But will they have anyone to teach?

An unfriendly climate for new leaders?

China Partner’s Erik Burklin reports that students are actually difficult to come by. A combination of COVID-induced uncertainty and new, tighter restrictions on Christians have led parents to become nervous. Rather than sending their children to become new leaders and teachers, they’re encouraging young people to hang back and pursue other career opportunities.

Photo courtesy of China Partner.

“That’s concerning, of course, to all the schools because fewer students means less money,” Burklin says.

And it’s a bad time to have less funding coming into seminaries. COVID-19 restrictions saw churches closed and many families taking in less income, so donations have been down for some time.

“In fact, the seminary in Wuhan is doing a special fundraising drive because they have not been able to pay their staff and their professors have had hardly any income,” Burklin reports. “They’re far behind in.. their budget. We need to pray that God will sustain them that He will provide.”

A Church built on prayer

But even in the midst of uncertainty, the Church in China is looking outward. Local believers are conscious of the fact that while China may be recovering, countries like the United States are actually seeing a resurgence of cases. In response, Chinese believers are praying.

Photo courtesy of China Partner

Although the Chinese government is restricting international travelers in an effort to prevent further breakouts, the Chinese Church is still finding ways to stay connected to their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. The Church is meant to operate as a single body with many parts, and China’s believers have decided their role is one of prayer and long-distance support.

“It kind of gives me hope,” Burklin says. “They’ve survived, they’ve been through it, and they’ve come out on the other side. We just need to be patient and wait for our turn.”

Pray for the continued challenges facing the Chinese Church. If you want to come alongside them in support, you can connect with China Partner directly right here.

Header photo courtesy of China Partner.

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