Until recently, Calvin was an elder in our local fellowship.
We would meet up every couple of weeks over lunch. Being the deep thinker, there was always a theological question, a question about church governance, a question about guiding the people in his small group, that he wanted to talk through. One pervading issue for him had been the call he felt to full time ministry, despite non-believing parents. His parents very much opposed the idea – originally thinking his faith and commitment to the church just to be a passing fad, but becoming quite alarmed when they began to hear this kind of talk from their only son. Still, Calvin felt called to pursue theological studies in the US, despite realising the cost not only financially but also on the state of his family.
After much prayer and consideration, and on receiving a small scholarship to study at a school that had come highly recommended to him, he made the decision to go. At that time, he and his wife Mary had just found out that they were expecting their first child. Telling his family was not the easiest task, and much conflict ensued.
But God was at work.
His parents, eventually conceded and ‘allowed’ their son to go – even chipping in financially to help make it happen. The only condition – he was not to tell anyone in their hometown what he was going to the US to do.
Having a son make it to one of the biggest cities in China, and end up giving it all up to one day run a church was the biggest form of ‘losing face’ they could imagine, an attitude very much reflective of what many young Chinese Christians face.
It has been a year since Calvin & Mary moved to the US to begin 4 years of theological study there. They had their first child there, not knowing if either of their families will be able to visit the US over those 4 years, nor whether they would be able to come back during that time. For Chinese people, raising children without the community of extended family, is completely counter-cultural.
Calvin’s story is the same as at least three other young urban Chinese Church leaders we know, and there would be many, many more.
Pray for young church leaders like Calvin who have counted the cost – as they face their studies, a new stage of life in a new environment, all at one time. Pray that God would be their stability, their rock. Please also ask for good relationships with their parents despite the distance, and that as they raise their child in the Lord, trusting Him for everything, they will be able to show their parents that investing in the work of the Lord is never wasted.
The author lives amongst the Urban Billion in one of the largest cities in China.