Explosive Growth

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear’. 

Matt 13:3-9

One TSPM training school is located in the capital city of an eastern province. When I visited this school, it was in its second year of operation. It had four full-time faculty members and 34 students who ranged in age from 16 to 48 years old. The school’s key purpose is to prepare ministers for the rapidly growing church in this province. In 1984 there were approximately 50,000 believers in the province and only six churches. At the time of my visit (1998), there were well over 600,000 believers and over 106 churches. Church leaders estimate that in this province alone 20,000–30,000 new believers are added to the church every year. The need for trained ministers is truly staggering. In 1994 there were 33 ordained pastors in the province, two-thirds of whom were over 80 years of age. It was a profound privilege to be able to teach a series of special courses in this setting. I was impressed with the students, who were keenly aware of their need for God’s power and eager to do the work of the Lord. Their eagerness to study the Bible, in spite of the long hours and difficult conditions, was especially encouraging. 

The stories the students and faculty told of church growth in this region were amazing. One faculty member spoke of a young lady whose home village is located in the northern part of this province, an ‘unreached’ region without any believers or Christian witness. The young lady travelled to Beijing to pursue college-level studies. During her time of study she heard the gospel message and became a Christian. After completing her studies in 1984, she returned to her home village. She was the only Christian in the region, but began to testify to her family and friends. As a result, by 1987 (just three years later) there were 2,000 believers in this previously unreached area. A little over ten years later, there were over 20,000 believers in this area. One of the faculty members at the school, a tiny but powerful lady, goes regularly to this area to minister since it is without pastors. She once baptized 700 believers in one day! 

Many in the remote mountainous areas are coming to Christ. One young man came to the capital city to buy Bibles. When local Christians asked him how he had heard about Jesus, he indicated that it was through radio broadcasts. He said that he needed 800–900 Bibles for the believers in his area! 

The faculty and students reflect the spiritual vitality of the region. They responded warmly to my teaching on the power of the Holy Spirit and sang an indigenous Chinese song based on Acts 1:8. There was a sense of excitement, commitment and joy in the school that was truly inspiring. I left in awe of what God is doing in this region and, more particularly, in this school. 

Lord, I rejoice at the power of your word. I am amazed at the way in which it transforms and produces change. As I reflect on the impact this one young lady had on the lives of so many, I am greatly encouraged. I am reminded that someone shared the gospel with her in Beijing and yet that person will probably never know the process that his or her words set in motion. I too do not always know nor will I always see the fruit of my witness. And yet you are at work, seeking, wooing and finding the lost. Lord, help me not to become discouraged if some reject your message. Help me not to grow weary when I do not see visible results. Allow me to rest in the confidence that your word is powerful and that it will produce fruit: thirty, sixty, even a hundred-fold.