Like dandelion seeds, pastors for the mission across regions leave their own hometowns to a new place where they become new residents and sow the seeds of the Gospel which will grow into big trees to let many souls rest.
Transregional mission refers to a Christian family being called to leave their hometown to settle in a new city to serve people there.
The concept of mission across regions in China originated from a missionary of the American Baptist Church. He introduced this idea to the students at the North China Theological Seminary in Teng County, Shandong Province. Around 2000, as many rural workers flocked to first and second-tier coastal cities, some pastoral workers in Central China as well as other provinces where the gospel was flourishing also migrated from their hometowns to other cities to preach the gospel.
Pastor Xiao Yang (pseudonym), nearly 60 years old and from the countryside of Anhui Province, is a pastor of an “immigrant mission” in a second-tier city in East China.
While in his twenties in the late 1980s, together with his Christian uncle, Xiaoyang went to a church at 3 am to attend Sunday service and came back at 5 am.
Less than a year later, he was baptized and had served in the rural church for more than 10 years. With a tide of urbanization occurring around 2005, many neighbors and folks around him went from Anhui to the coastal cities in East China and South China to work. At the age of 36 years, following these migrant workers, he became one of the pioneers of transregional mission work.
Pastor Xiao Yang was dispatched to City A, where has lived for 20 years. "In the early 2000s, the transregional mission emerged. At that time, I went to do odd jobs after planting on the land, as not enough food was produced when the crops were flooded. I went to Shanghai to help build houses, and to Wenzhou to do construction work. Wherever I went, the first thing I did was to find a church. when I felt the calling to be an “immigrant missionary”, I obeyed.”
In the beginning, he thought that he was just going to give some sermons in the city. "I thought that the local churches were mature, and I would just do the work assigned to me. But when I went there, I realized that it was not what I thought it was."
"I didn't know anyone," he recalled. "I started from scratch, looking for a cheap house at first. A pastor I knew took me to the train station of that city and asked the information about cheap houses. Then, we took a bus from the train station to a suburban town, rented a house with 150 yuan, and bought a container of oil and a bag of rice. The pastor said, ‘We will pray to the Lord to open the way for you,’ and then went back home.”
Finding several Christians there, he started the gathering in his rented house. In these years, he rented sheds, abandoned factory buildings, and commercial office buildings for worship, changing from a family gathering to a church, then to small groups.
Not long after he came to City A, his wife and children also went there. He has two sons, both got married, the elder son led a church and the younger one served part-time.
When asked if he had any regrets for these 20 years, he replied, "Looking back on my missionary work, I am a stranger here and do not have real estate and identity recognition. Though suffered a lot, I have no regrets."
Previously, we also reported another female pastor and her husband carrying out transregional mission work.
- Translated by Abigail Wu