Xie Rongbin, 28, is training to be a pastor in China, where there is currently only one trained minister to 6,700 Christians. He told us what motivates him and how to avoid writing boring sermons.
The inspiration to become a pastor comes from my grandmother. She was a beggar and brought my mother and my aunt up on the streets. She was supported by her neighbours. It was so hard. I felt I wanted to help the homeless people and to do it in a spiritual realm.
But I also want to help those who, though they are rich, are spiritually homeless. Some people have a lot of money, but in God’s eyes they are in dire need of God’s gospel. Their souls are homeless. My heart is to help them.
I also want to do this for my parents who are very serious about their faith. They always prayed with me and talked about God with me. They used to preach in villages when I was just a child and took me with them. My home became a place where people would gather together to worship God. It was an amazing start in life. They have given me great support.
There was no pastor in the town where I grew up. But there were people who were pastoral. We really need more and more pastors in China. The seminaries can’t do enough to raise so many pastors to go to the Church. The number of teachers who are qualified is restricted.
Now my parents and I serve in church. After I graduate, I will go back to serve there my whole lifetime. We don’t have a church, we just meet in people’s homes.
There are disadvantages to not having a pastor. Having a pastor would have helped me solve problems and answer questions when I was growing up, about the Bible, the world, God. No one could give me a satisfactory answer.
I think this is why heresies are popular because people don’t have a pastor to give them a biblical basis, so they will always be distracted by heretics.
The thought of being a pastor makes me feel very stressed. I’m 28. We need more young people to do more services and works, but there aren’t so many. I will have to have lots of responsibility like leading worship and leading the choir and summer camps. I’ll have to have a finger in every pie. If I don’t give my body a chance to recover, I will burn out.
But I also feel very excited. I have been trained for four years. I have learned so many things. It has broadened my horizons. I really want to share what I have learned, especially in our Bible study group. I feel so honoured and privileged to do this. I feel quite excited and hopeful.
I used to be a bit arrogant and did things for myself, but I was greatly encouraged by seeing how other pastors lived for the homeless and poor people. I would like to serve Jesus in that way.
The books we have had from Bible Society have changed my whole theological view. The different editions that we have of the Bible make me very grateful. It’s helped me learn to dig the meaning out of the Bible. A lot of the inspiration to deepen my sermons and to make them more profound, more creative and innovative comes from these books.
If you don’t dig into the Bible in a new way, your sermon will be a bit boring and tedious. After learning the original languages of Greek and Hebrew here, it has helped us a lot. It’s been so important.
If I’m honest though, we do need more dictionaries. We want the English editions. The books are always borrowed by others and it’s hard to get a chance to use them.
We all feel like missionaries, that we have to go back to our own churches and help as many people as possible.
Xie Rongbin is 28 and from Nanping in Fujian Province. He’s studying at Nanjing Theological Seminary. Find out how you can help support students like Xie and build the next generation of pastors in China.