During June through July, New York Theological Education Center President Timothy Chiu, Dean of Academic Affairs Anthony Chow, and Director of Research Jason Lam visited Taipei and provinces of China including Zhejiang, Guangdong, Yunnan, and more. Other than attending CCCOWE's Second World Chinese Theological Education Consultation Conference, the team also opened seminars with inland seminaries and churches, and obtaining a better understanding of the fast growing Christianity that is taking place in China today.
Rev. Chiu and Dr. Chow arrived in Zhejiang on June 20th and were invited to lecture at Zhejiang Theological Seminary. For two consecutive mornings Dr. Chow shared two topics: "Education on Personal Growth and Church Service" and "The Basics of Teaching and Learning." ZTS President Sun Xi Pei and two seminary vice presidents commented that due hopes to expand its theological education in its near future, ZTS has invited NYTEC instructors to lecture this time; this is only one of the many projects the seminary is undertaking in this development. Over 160 students and teachers attended the lecture, and the response was very positive. Many thought the lectures was fitting for the needs of Chinese churches today, while some alumni even urged for NYTEC to hold lectures in their homelands as well.
Since 1984, ZTS has held its philosophy to recruit and train prospects from church. With the direct guidance of its executives to its staff members, ZTS has received certificate to lecture, a privilege that is not equaled by other seminaries in the nation.
Zhejiang's Religious Affairs Committee Chairman Mo Xing Fu met with Rev. Chiu and Dr. Chow and explained to them that in his province there are over 170 house churches that registered with the government, and the government has permitted them not to fall under the jurisdiction of the Three Self Patriotic Church and the Chinese Christian Church Association. Although these were called "house gatherings," in reality each house church has over hundreds and thousands of believers. Rev. Chiu said that from the conversation he was able to see that "The Chinese Government has been loosing its hold on religious freedom, and would compromise according to the situation of different regions."
Afterwards, Rev. Chiu and the team visited the largest church in China, and probably the largest Chinese Church in the world: the Hanzhou First Church. The chapel can hold over 7,000 people at once. Just staff and janitors for the church, it amounts to more than 400. The construction of the church took 42 million RMB with 95% of the fund collected from donation and offerings of believers.
On June 25th, Rev. Chiu and Dr. Chow arrived at Shenzhen and gave a three day lecture at Shenzhen Christian Church. The church was constructed from the model of Noah's ark; it holds three services each Sunday and receives more than 5,000 attendants. In the afternoon, Dr. Chow opened the Team Leadership Seminar. Initially the seminar was planned for around 40 staff members of Shenzhen Christian Church, yet the believers of the church were passionate to learn, eventually the attendants grew to more than 200.
On Sunday June 26th, Rev. Chiu and Dr. Chow arrived at the Shenzhen Christian Church chapel half an hour prior to service, yet they saw that the chapel was completely filled. They could only be seated at the very last row. Dr. Chow gave lecture that afternoon planned for 50 Sunday school teachers on "Basics of Sunday School," but more than 70 attendants overflowed the small classroom. The lecture was halted in the middle and was relocated to a classroom that fits for 200.
On the morning of 27th a lecture was planned for around 30 ministers from the Shenzhen region. Although Monday is the day of rest for the ministerial staffs, yet the learning opportunity drew more than 100 people. Dr. Chow gave lecture on "The Spiritual Leaders of the New Era - A Lesson on Christian Leadership" that day.
Rev. Chiu and Dr. Chow was impressed with the passion of the ministerial staffs of Shenzhen, and said that this a glimpse of the tremendous thirst the people of China has to learn. Dr. Chiu also noted that Shenzhen is a business district in development; businesses and people from all over the nation gathers at this place. If those who come to believe the Lord here and are properly trained returns to their homeland, it would impact the growth of churches in China greatly.