News from China: Lisu Ministry of the Baoshan Christian Council
Baoshan, a city in the western Yunnan province of China, is located between the border of Burma and the Lancang River (Mekong).
Lisu people form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by China, and some live in Baoshan. About 80% of the Lisu in China are Christians. The remaining 20% may be irreligious or have a traditional religion. Lisu people like to build close to a source of water, if they can, for washing, cooking, and agriculture, sometimes using bamboo pipes to bring in water. Houses have dirt floors, simple bamboo and thatch walls, and thatched grass roofs. Lisu families are large and often do not have enough food, clothing, shoes, or even blankets. Some children go to the local schools, but only a few are able to read or write Mandarin Chinese, with most learning to read and write their native language. Agriculture and seasonal jobs are the main economic activities. They grow wheat and corn; however, agriculture is becoming more difficult, due to soil erosion. For these reasons, Baoshan Christian Council founded the Rock Social Service Committee in 2007 to provide social services for ethnic minorities in the area.
Baoshan Christian Council organized the government’s trained medics known as “barefoot doctors” to provide free basic health care to the Lisu community, including checking blood pressure, answering basic health questions, and providing free medicines and financial aid for seriously ill patients. They also promote public health by offering health training classes including personal and family health and common disease prevention. This program focuses on raising awareness and improves the self-treatment abilities of communities, advocating for universal health coverage, which would help to build a sustainable and healthy community.
Baoshan Christian Council has also organized 100 training classes for the pastors, lay leaders, and students of the local Christian Training Center to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS. They use games, drama, question and answer sessions, and group discussion to spread awareness and eliminate fear of HIV/AIDS patients. Church workers are encouraged to share their knowledge with church members, families, and friends to prevent HIV/AIDS in their communities. The program is highly appreciated by the local government and non-Christians.
In order to improve the farming technology and skills of the Lisu community, Baoshan Christian Council offer education and training to farmers and villagers. The current training programs include coffee, litchi, rice, and off-season vegetable planting. The Christian Council also provides crop seeds and fertilizer to 150 minority families every year.
Baoshan Christian Council supports many programs that serve and uplift the Lisu community. Since most Lisu students live far from school, 1000 Yuan (about $155 US dollars) is given to each qualified student to support them to go to school every year. Lisu families are supported in rebuilding their homes with strong materials like tile to prevent natural disasters and forest fires. Most Lisu communities do not have wells for water, so 25 water tanks were built so they don’t have to carry water from far away. Supplies are also provided including food, clothes, shoes, blankets, rice, and cooking oil. Through these services, lives have been greatly improved, increasing their confidence and hope.
In addition, Baoshan Christian Council also established the Gospel Voluntary Drug Rehabilitation Center in 2007, dedicated to providing personalized treatment to ensure the recovery of addiction using a gospel-centered approach along with nontraditional medical treatment. The center offers a program designed to foster and honor spirituality. 195 people have participated and 98 of them successfully finished the 18-month program. Daily activities include Bible study, prayer, gardening, and exercise. A “Halfway to Home” program was established for those people who graduated but had not yet returned to their homes. This program allows graduates to learn job skills, to strengthen their rehab, and to have time to restore their relationships.
Finally, the Baoshan Christian Training Center, founded in 1998, provides a three-year program to equip church workers for the city, Yunnan province, and a few other provinces in western China. More than 700 students from 13 ethnic minority groups have graduated and returned to serve their local churches. The training center also holds an annual training program for pastors, elders, preachers, deacons, and church administrations in the area to promote Bible interpretation, pastoral care, and church management. The training center report reads, “We are grateful for God’s grace and will continue to manage the church missions among the counties and villages, even those who did not reach out to us.”
The Area Executive for East Asia and the Pacific Derek Duncan and I had a virtual meeting with the president of Baoshan Christian Council, Rev. Chengyun Xu, in October 2020. We were so glad to have this opportunity to meet with pastor Xu and to learn their work and ministry. After consideration, Global Ministries is glad to be one of the mission partners of the Baoshan Christian Council this year. Please continue to pray for Global Ministries and the ministries of Baoshan Christian Council in China.
G. Lou’s appointment is made possible by gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.