Nowadays, many mainland church workers study overseas. The price of studying abroad is family members not being able to meet often. Some are separated for years. Let us pray for these who are abroad and for their families who have stayed in China, especially for those who are debating whether to stay abroad and not return to their churches in China. "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)
It is trendy for young Chinese to study abroad, starting from high school, especially those from families with financial means. Many Christians also borrow money so their children can study abroad. Couples often argue about the increased financial burden of such study. We pray for the marital tensions created by this predicament. May the Lord give them peace and the resources they need, and above all the spiritual health of their children who are away from home.
Many pastors from China who have gone abroad encounter the dilemma of whether they should return to their home church and train new pastors as they promised or stay abroad. They wonder if this is a betrayal of their initial commitment or a new door God has opened for them. We pray for wisdom, integrity, and God's direction for pastors who are in this difficult situation as well as their churches.
Church workers in China have become very busy. They have little time for their families and sometimes even for God. Many pastors complain that their church members see them as tools or service providers. Many believers falsely see pastors as therapists for all of the family problems. We pray for those who must minister to one or two hundred families. May the Lord give them wisdom and the ability to balance their own family needs with those of the church.
It is not unusual for a pastor in China to be over-burdened and then invariably to become "burned out". Their own families complain they are neglecting them and the pastors feel helpless. Very often these pastors themselves do not to have a healthy family life and there are no resources to help or provide counseling. May the Lord be merciful to pastors in China and raise up ministries or people who will devote their efforts to help all of the weakened pastors there.
Although there are some church workers in China who say that loving God is greater than loving family, one must never forget that God's word says that those who take care of the church should first take care of their own households. (I Timothy 3:4) We pray for those pastors who have the opportunity to study abroad that the Lord will use their training to benefit His church whether back in China or abroad and that people will honor their commitment to their churches and to God.
As more pastors in China go abroad for theological training, it is more common for those pastors to be shepherding a church abroad while their families stay in China or even join them later. Our prayer is that pastors can have a ministry that is balanced and healthy. May the Lord give pastors spiritual and relational renewal.