By Rev. Dr. Patricia Donahoo, executive director, Disciples Women’s Ministries
As part of the Woman-to-Woman Worldwide (WWW) ministry of Disciples Women, a delegation of fourteen women returned from China on Saturday, November 16, 2012. Disciples Women works in partnership with Global Ministries to participate in a ministry of presence with sisters all over the world. Xiaoling Zhu was our partner for this journey and arranged for us to meet a wide variety of people doing amazing and varied ministries.
We had the opportunity to visit the projects and programs of the YWCA/YMCA in Shanghai as well as having time to meet with the women who are instrumental in those programs. We also met with the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China and the China Christian Council.
In Nanjing we attended the 100 millionth Bible printing ceremony, toured the facility where these Bibles are printed, and heard how the Good News is spreading rapidly. We learned the story of the Nanjing Massacre and the self-sacrificing life of Minnie Vautrin, a Disciples Woman, who went to China in 1912 as a missionary and teacher. She helped build and found Ginling Girls College. When the Japanese army invaded in 1937, the College became a haven of refuge, harboring up to 10,000 women in a college designed to support between 200 and 300. We also toured the Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital founded in partnership with Disciples which is about to celebrate its 120th anniversary.
In Xi’an we met with the Shanxi Christian Council and Shanxi Bible School to meet with women pastors, students, and leaders. While in Xi’an we attended worship where we were blessed by the ministry of music even when we did not understand the language.
Our next stop was Zhengzhou where we met with church leaders and students at Henan Seminary. The following day we spent time at Zhoukou Church projects including a village where people with HIV/AIDS are cared for.
When we arrived in Beijing we had the rare opportunity to meet with a leader from the State Administration of Religious Affairs and got a tour of the grounds that is not open to the public. We spent time in conversation with a government official discussing the partnership between the church and the government in China and how it is mutually beneficial.
We were the recipients of abundant hospitality and care in every venue. We discovered that what we had heard about the church in China was inaccurate and very different from our experience there. The church is growing much like the Pentecost of Acts and they are struggling to train clergy and leaders fast enough to meet the needs. We heard about the need to care for the families of migrant workers, HIV/AIDS patients, infants and children, women, elderly, and other at-risk groups. Our sisters and brothers of China are open and ready to be in partnership as the church continues to grow.
The women who participated in this journey will be speaking often and in many venues to tell more of the story than this brief itinerary can begin to cover. The story of the church in China is one of joy and hope and excitement. If you would like to invite one of the participants to come and share the journey with your church or group, contact Disciples Women at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with Donahoo, participants included: