Urban Church Pastor Emphasizes Sacrifices for Believers' Growth

Senior Pastor Chen Suisheng of Dongshan Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong, gave a sermon titled "Servant of God" during the 2023 ministry conference held on January 31, 2023.
Senior Pastor Chen Suisheng of Dongshan Church in Guangzhou, Guangdong, gave a sermon titled "Servant of God" during the 2023 ministry conference held on January 31, 2023.
By Li ShiguangOctober 27th, 2023

In many western countries in recent years, the pressure on pastors has been great. Many churches have closed down, and pastors are laid off. Even though they are still serving, they suffer from both tangible and intangible pressures. How about the pastors in China?

Recently, Pastor Li Xinghua, who works in an urban church in East China, shared his heartfelt feelings of his service behind everyone’s growth and change—pastors need to bear much burden for it.

The difficulty of pastoral ministry

Pastor Li Xinghua believes that most of the time, caring for believers is just like raising children. “But what is raising children? A pastor usually has to 'raise' twenty, thirty, or more believers. Even a cell leader has to 'raise' from as few as seven or eight believers to as many as a dozen. However, now the demands of believers are very high, so it is extremely difficult to raise them. Therefore, if a pastor is unfaithful and doesn’t get enough grace from God, then caring will completely become a kind of torture—that caring will be extremely hard. The pressure on pastors is very high.”

Pastor Li continued, “However, in fact, many Christians, including many pastors and preachers, just want to have joy and glory but don’t want to experience any pain and pressure. I only want the blessing of the apostle Paul, but I don’t want the suffering of Paul. I just want glory, not humiliation. However, where can there be such a good thing in the whole world?”

The need to be taught by examples and practice

“I have three children, the youngest of whom is nine years old now. I want him to do well academically. I also want him to learn at least one musical instrument. These ideas are all good, right? The actual situation was often that, no matter how hard I talked to him, he wouldn’t listen. Finally, the trick I found out was that I played the piano first when I wanted him to play. Then, when the child saw me playing, he came over and started playing the piano.”

“So, the best way of education I learned is to teach by example, practice by example, and set an example. This is true for both your own children and believers in the church,” the pastor said. 

To Pastor Li, people are really surprising. No matter whether a person does well or not, as long as he is in a teaching position, others will follow him.

“I have asked many Christians why they believe in Jesus. Some of them said that their mothers or friends were Christians. They thought that they were good people and lived better. On the one hand, many people found Christians to be attractive and believed, and on the other hand, I heard people saying that they didn’t believe in Jesus because those who believed were not as good as those who didn’t.”

By watching many people accept their faith and become Christians, Pastor Li found that it is very important for Christians to have good testimony. Whether a Christian’s testimony is positive or negative, it will have a great influence on the people around him.

Life changing life either positively or negatively

The daughter of a female believer’s brother-in-law in Pastor Li’s church suffered from depression. The girl was in her twenties, but her IQ was only that of a young child. It turned out that her father kept her at home for many years after she became depressed. Her father did this because he saw much news about human trafficking in the media, worrying that his daughter would also be deceived and trafficked. That was how he protected her by keeping her at home.

“In this regard, we can only say that the father’s intention was good, but the methods and measures were completely wrong.” Speaking of this matter, Pastor Li felt sorry for the child.

As the girl was only in her twenties, the life ahead of her was still very long. She shouldn’t be ruined all her life. After the female believer explained everything, Pastor Li decided to introduce the faith to the girl. The pastor’s wife began to give her counseling, which was difficult as the girl had limited intelligence and her understanding of many things was problematic. It took plenty of time and effort for each session. After the second counseling session, Mrs. Li took the girl to church meetings. After three meetings, the girl began to smile and gradually became normal. Her father was very surprised that his daughter was a completely different person.

The girl has recovered well and has become almost the same as a normal person, except that her responding speed is still low. In addition to God’s work, we must also see that some people have made many efforts for it, whether it is the pastor, the pastor’s wife, the girl’s aunt, or many people who prayed for her. Perhaps it is because of the great cost paid that God’s work became possible.

If a person is eager to grow and change, perhaps first another or even more lives should be available for it. “When one life influences another positively, that life will gradually move in the positive direction, and it will gradually flourish and be full of vitality,” Pastor Li concluded. 

(The names of the characters in this article are all pseudonyms.)

- Translated by Charlie Li

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