I was born and grew up in a Tibetan area. Interacting with Tibetans and experiencing a Tibetan way of life was unavoidable. From a young age, I learned the Tibetan Buddhism teaching—life is suffering and no one can escape it. So the present life is to gain a better rebirth after death. To achieve this goal, believers must work hard to overcome their sinful nature and gather merit with the guidance of their spiritual mentors. I also witnessed that many male Buddhists left their families behind to pursue pilgrimages as they were encouraged to do so. Among these pilgrims, some arrived at what they consider their holy land, Lhasa, and decided to become monks for good; Some died on the pilgrimage due to the severe weather, hunger, and disease etc.. However, they were seen as holy figures and assured a heavenly rebirth. Such a view of Buddhist beliefs burdened me for a long time since merit is the result of constant good behavior and actions, and rebirth is determined by this life’s performance, but the difficulty is that our sinful nature can keep us from doing good things and being good people all the time in our own power. This uncertainty of a good rebirth hardly brought me joy and peace in my life.
As grew up, I started doubting the Buddhist teaching was true. While in university, I spent vast amounts of time reading some philosophical books in order to find a different meaning of life to conquer my fear of death and rebirth. All my attempts were in vain until I found God. One day, I joined a friend’s family gathering where a pianist simply introduced a Gospel story and then led all participants to sing a hymn called, “I Receive Your Love.” Its peaceful melody profoundly touched my restless heart and intranquil mind, and the lyrics spoke to me and comforted my unsettled soul. It was my first time hearing that God loved us so that He has laid down His life for us regardless of our sin. His love was not a shackle to limit one’s freedom but an invitation to follow Him and live an abundant life in this world. Immersed in this unconditional love, I could not help crying, in tears I let go my deepest fear, burden, and uncertainty of afterlife to God, and found healing, freedom, and peace in Him. After that moment my life transformed and pointed me towards seeking a deeper understanding of who this Lord is and how to follow Him. I participated in the discipleship training facilitated by the Canadian missionaries in my hometown. When they left, I opened my apartment for believers’ gatherings and started Bible study with other church leaders.
The more I served, the more I realized that I knew so little about the Bible. I started praying that God would grant me an opportunity to better equip myself to serve His people better. The Lord answered my prayers and graciously opened the door for me. In 2006, I got an offer to study theology with scholarship in Hong Kong. There I grew my Biblical knowledge and deepened my relationship with the Lord. Near graduation, however, a tragedy almost crushed me and took away my faith in God. In 2008, an earthquake hit my hometown tremendously and took away my parents’ lives. As a survivor, I witnessed millions of people who lost their homes, families, and communities. The continued exposure to the disaster caused me to suffer from distress and mental health problems. In this difficult time, my seminary friends and teachers compassionately supported me and walked with me out of the darkness. Many church leaders in mainland China were passionate to help me and those who suffered from the disaster but they were unaware of the appropriate coordinated approach needed for effective trauma response as their basic training was mainly focused on preaching God’s Word without noticing the practical part of how to walk alongside with the Word of God.
Their inability to support those who had suffered opened my eyes to the importance of providing Chinese church leaders with a holistic theological education to prepare them to be Biblical teachers, scholars, ministers, and counselors—who are able to preach the Word and apply it to the lives of the people of God by walking with them. In other words, a holistic training would enable them to counsel parishioners, lead funerals, deliver sermons, and lead unbelievers to a faithful understanding of Christian faith, not just preach the Word (though it is still crucial) and is always highly valued and emphasized by the Chinese church. After recognizing this need, I found my calling and have joined an institution with the same vision. It is committed to offering an affordable and holistic online theological education for Christian leaders and educators from the global South to strengthen and integrate their faith and practice. Unlike the traditionally residential education model where students have to suspend their ministries and leave their home or home countries to pursue theological training, this online education model allows them to continue their ministries and theologically or Biblically reflect their ecclesial concerns in their own contexts and sharpen their practical skills. This project for Chinese Christians has just started, 12 Chinese ministers and educators have applied for the MMin and DMin programs. Many more are interested in these programs and expect to be admitted. I’m grateful that our gracious Lord has opened my eyes to see the Chinese church’s needs and placed me in this position to serve Him and His people. I pray that both Chinese and Western churches will pray and support them in various ways to expand God’s kingdom. God bless you!
I Receive Your Love*
On the cross
A holy light tender and so kind
Glowing with your love’s great might
shine O Lord, in this life of mine
Here is my heart take every part
I give you my all
Let your love wash over me
Come free me and make me whole
I surrender all
I surrender all
Ever in your arms of love
I surrender all
Jesus, you are my Lord
Jesus, you are my Lord
Ever in your arms of Lord
Only You, Jesus, You are my Lord
*The Chinese hymn is taken from this website 基督教中英文流行赞美诗网站 Classic Christian Hymns Site (English and Chinese)