This June, Mr. Kong came back to his hometown Sudian Town, Yingjiang County after completing his theological courses. Over the past several years, he has studied theology in a Mandarin-speaking environment at Longling Training Center, Baoshan City then advanced at Yunan Theological Seminary. As the only ethnic township of Lisu in the Prefecture of De Hong, Yunnan Province, Sudian Town has a large Christian population, and as the only person who has graduated from a seminary, besides bread and ministries, Mr. Kong has to face a challenge of preaching in Lisu language to Lisu believers.
As soon as Mr. Kong arrived at Bangbie village, Sudian Town, he had to figure out how to meet the local believers' actual demands. It is quite hard for a Lisu young man to be admitted by a seminary since the average educational level of Lisu people is low, and the future ministry as a voluntary preacher in this area is even harder since with very limited income, he needs a part-time job to support himself financially.
Mr. Kong has also told CCD another difficulty he has to face. When he was in Yunnan Seminary, he studied all his courses in Chinese and used Lisu language only when sing inghymns. However, he now must preach in Lisu language which he has never tried before. In order to train minority preachers and church leaders, since 1994, the Yingjiang Christian Church has offered a three-month training program every four years at the Bible training center where many Jingpo and Lisu preachers have been trained to preach in their own languages. Today, this center offers courses in Chinese, Jingpo language and Lisu language and even a Burmese Bible study class has been started here.
When reading the map of China, you may learn that Yingjiang is located in the border area in Southwest China and adjoins Myanmar along mountains and rivers. As a ethnic county in Dehong Dai & Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province and a port of entry to China, Yingjiang covers an area of 4,400 km2 and has a population of 0.32 million and a borderline as long as 314.6 km. Han, Dai, Jingpo, Lisu, De'ang and A'Chang people now live in Yingjiang.
There are 34 thousand Christians and 240 gathering places. Believers belong to various nationalities such as Jingpo, Lisu, Dai, Han, De'ang and A'chang. At present, there are 7 pastors and over 50 missionaries in total. The church in the downtown area is the only church in Yingjiang County, which accommodates over 500 members and offers three worship session each Sunday in Chinese, Jingpo language and Lisu language. Nearly half of the believers in Yingjiang are Jingpo and Lisu.
Over the past years, Yingjiang Biblical Training Center has always stimulated the local development of Christianity through training church leaders and core church members.
According to Pastor Mi's description, since the foundation of Yingjiang Biblical Training Center 20 years ago, it has offered a three-month training program to 2,500 students, 350 of whom have completed their studies. The center also offers short-term training programs to women, pastors, young people and church members all year around. Since April 2008, it has launched two two-year Chinese Biblical study programs. However, due to the earthquake on March 10, 2010, students' and teachers' dorms, classrooms and canteens were all damaged badly and all training programs had to be stopped. Moreover, since the only church and many believers' houses were also destroyed, it was almost impossible for church members to support the reconstruction of the biblical training center financially.
Because of serious damages caused by the earthquake, many believers still owe money to their respective banks. In addition, many believers lead a tough life since most of them make a living as farmers in this poor border area. However, Yingjiang Biblical Training Center is a must because many church leaders and young successors of Christian religion need to be trained. Therefore, the decision of the construction of a teaching building was made after several discussions among pastors and missionaries in Yingjiang.
At the present, the new teaching building is under construction. The project was launched last year and is expected to be completed by October 2016. The Zion Church, which was removed in 2011 because of the earthquake, was reconstructed 5 years later. It is planned to build a four-storey building covering an area of 1,800m2 with an overall budget of 3.1 million RMB. The construction fund may be raised by local churches and now, it is still far from being enough.
Besides the construction of the teaching building, Pastor Mi has also told us something about hiring teachers. In order to train pastors and missionaries in a better way, the Biblical training center is planning to pay teachers and afford a part of students' board expenses although tithes from Lisu churches are limited. Due to inadequate funds, it is difficult to hire full-time teachers, so most of teachers work as volunteers here and earn a living by farm work or part-time jobs.
Most of Lisu people live in remote villages. With little education many of them do not really understand Bible or are able to individualize religion. They become Christians only because they were born in Christian families. Therefore, Pastor Mi and other staff members at the Biblical training center plan to build a library which may offer Christian books relating to Biblical study, exegesis, church history, etc. not only to teachers, students but also to all pastors and missionaries in Yingjiang, then they may understand Christianity better and bring gospel to more people.