Four Years of Sichuan Earthquake Disaster Relief Awakes China House Church to Social Services

May 22, 2012 08:56 AM EDT

"Love China Movement" was started by the house churches after the Sichuan Earthquake disaster. Pastor Lee, who was a participant of this movement and a house church pastor, recently pointed out in an interview that, since 2008, this project has awakened Chinese churches to reach out to the community and has brought about unity amongst churches.

This is a rare occasion in recent history: the Church and believers united to demonstrate the love of Christ and showed the society a different side of Chinese Churches.

In the interview with in China, Lee believes that inter-churches connection have increased during this project, allowing churches to gain valuable experiences in areas such as the methodology of community services and volunteer training during their outreaches.

Till date, "Love China Movement" has greatly influenced the churches. Lee believes the participation of Sichuan earthquake disaster relief and reconstruction project is a great awakening of the Chinese Churches in the area of community services.

Christian's Love in Action

Lee said the Chinese Church has long been focusing on witnessing, discipleship, and church expansion. Yet, this project is a public effort that focuses on disaster relief. The Sichuan catastrophe called for the church to respond with love and the believers with actions. The main theme of this project is called “Love in Action". To the church, participation in community services and care is a way for the believers to demonstrate their love, which allows the church to learn how to put love into action.

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The Position of the Church in Community Services

This experience has allowed the church to determine its position in the area of participation in community services, such as how can it participate effectively, how can it continue to work on it, and what are the areas that are covered by the government? With the gradual division of the scope of work, it will be possible to find the area which the church can participate.

The Churches Unite, More Areas Covered

Having different churches participating in the same activity is a rare occurrence. In this project, different churches rotate to lead and serve together. It increases the coordination through communication among the churches, reaching a unity among them.

Lee said that for a long period of time there was a big divide between the church and society. The Church has been ostracized while the society misunderstood the church. Through these relief efforts, the society see the faith and life of Christians and increased their understanding of the Church.

The project inspired many churches to participate in community works. Large number of churches are currently involved in the disaster relief efforts in Sichuan. Many continued to date, but have already evolved into different models. The diversity is the greatest feature in Chinese Churches. In the beginning, there was a consideration of having a common system across the project to unify the effort, believing that such a model would make the services easier. However, due to differences and the diversity, it did not materialize.

Lee expressed that when churches boldly explored and attempt to find a direction, this act should be encouraged and not judged hastily. Diverse Ministries, mutual acceptance and recognition will characterize the Chinese Churches involving in community services in the future; not governed by a single agency.

Lee also witnesses churches having different characteristics. Many believers are doing well in areas such as children ministry, welfare institutions and other beneficial foundations, and the works are lasting.

Community Services Experience Accumulation

"Love China Movement" allowed the churches to accumulate much experience in community services, especially in important areas such as volunteer training. For example, a new believer, who was inspired to go to Sichuan to help with the disaster relief efforts, ended up having to be counseled himself after working on the site for a few days. From this, Lee stated that proper preparation and training should be made for our brothers and sisters.

[Editor's note: Richardson Lau translated the report.]