Andrew was born into a Christian family and was raised going to church, with his mother serving as a preacher there. After finishing high school, he moved to a neighbouring province for two years to work, hoping to find joy and satisfaction through work and money. This period only resulted in emptiness. Only upon going back to his hometown and resettling at church did he feel peace and joy, committing his life to the Lord.
He went on to study English in a nearby city, then after a year of studying theology at a church overseas, received a clear call from the Lord to become a pastor. He was fortunate enough to be able to receive some additional training in China and from a bible seminary in another part of Asia. After serving and leading in various small churches in China, he moved to one of China’s megacities and began working as part of the leadership of a congregation of about 100 people. His main ministries included preaching, training & discipleship of small group leaders, membership and pastoral care, as well as overseeing missions, children’s ministry and the worship team. A big task for a young pastor.
I met Andrew not long after he began serving there, not long after my family and I also began attending this congregation. Although my Chinese was limited, Andrew and I became friends, and as we got to know each other, we could see that we both had a heart for discipleship, and shared a desire to see young men trained up in the Word. Together we began a small discipleship ministry, meeting weekly with a small group of men from our church who showed leadership potential. We were greatly encouraged to see this group of men grow in their understanding of how to read the Bible, how to teach it to others, and the importance of living gospel-shaped lives. As we met one-on-one on a weekly basis, we’d talk about many things: life and church, ministry and family, problems Andrew was facing and that people in the congregation were going through. One day, after about one year of meeting up, Andrew started to cry. He said:
‘This past year or so we’ve been meeting up has been such a blessing to me. You know I’ve been a Christian now for more than 10 years, but only now do I understand what it’s all about. It’s all about the gospel.’
This epiphany transformed his ministry. Although previously a passionate preacher, he began to preach with great power, because he began to preach the gospel – clearly, courageously. It transformed the way he walked people through their problems. Whereas before he felt his words were useless and powerless, by pointing people to Jesus, to the gospel, he realised that it was the only thing that could transform people and relationships and bring healing – and with it he felt empowered to help people and see their lives be changed by it.
Andrew and I we were talking one day about how the church outside of China, could be of help. He said:
‘What’s the best thing you can do for us? Walk alongside us. We need role models – open up your life to allow us to see how you do marriage, how you do faith, how you live a Christian life, how you love each other… The journey for the Chinese church we must walk ourselves. But I pray that you will walk alongside us.’
He is #oneinabillion.