A leading international Chinese Christian ministry looks to set a strong foundation for an education program for missionary children in Mainland China after the first group of 400 children has been successfully sponsored last year.
Targeted on the families of some financially poor native Chinese missionary or believers, Christian Communication Inc. U.S.A. (CCIUSA) Seedling Development Project (SDP) is a special program launched in summer 2005 that aims to provide education to the second generations. Today, over 10 coworkers from CCIUSA are working in a few rural and remote areas in China to operate SDP in collaboration with local underground churches, according Lillian Chen, general director of CCIUSA.
Since the goal of sponsoring 400 children and youth for last year was achieved, CCIUSA will now focus on reinforcing the current sponsorships in the first half year of 2006. Then CCIUSA will start another phase of the project with a higher quota- possibility doubled- of families to be sponsored. The goal and development plan for 2006 are not confirmed until the next project meeting.
To maintain a long-term and consistent sponsorship for each child is the main concern, Chen said. Chen pointed out that a very common problem of a sponsorship program is the lack of follow-up system for each case and CCIUSA is trying to reinforce this aspect.
"CCIUSA is now collecting and organizing the detailed background information of each family and child being sponsored. The database of profiles can be shared with donors so they can know the need of the children better," said Chen.
Chen suggested that in case the living standard and external environment of the sponsored family has changed significantly, the donation can be shifted to others who are more in need. Sometimes, there are also cases where the family is living in an unimaginably poor situation.
CCIUSA expects to launch massive fundraising campaign in August. Rather than individual donation, CCIUSA aims to mobilize Chinese churches or Christian communities in the U.S., especially Sunday schools, to support the project. CCIUSA plans to show them the profiles of the families or children in need, so they can make a budget.
The Project consists of five key areas of work: providing funds for schooling, Sunday school, family visits, organizing summer and winter retreats as well as general life education. CCIUSA sponsors poor missionary children’s basic education such as paying their school fees and textbooks. Since the churches in rural areas are lack of Sunday school teachers or necessary study materials, CCIUSA sent overseas Sunday school teachers or well-trained local ministers to these underground churches so that missionary children can receive spiritual education. General life education is also very vital for children. They are taught how to maintain personal health and hygiene, as one of the ways to improve their living standard and living environment in rural areas.
When asked if there is any obstacle in organizing Sunday school for children in China, Chen commented that the extent varies depending on the area. Under the existing religious regulation in China, preaching about religions to people under 18 years old is prohibited.
"The Constitution in China does guarantee the freedom of religions for all citizens, however, the existing religious law appears to contradict the Constitution. In terms of religious belief, there is no standard policy in China and different regions have their own practice. Local policemen receive orders from the authority and take immediate actions," Chen said, adding that in case of persecution from the authorities, the Sunday school will be forced to close down or sometimes pay penalty.
Chen emphasized the close collaboration with local churches. As it is very sensitive for a foreign organization to carry out big works openly in China, CCIUSA forms network with local churches and they invite CCIUSA to support their Sunday school.
"Instead of a foreign organization doing some great works in China, CCIUSA supports local churches with all kinds of resources according to their needs," Chen explained the local church-orientated approach.