The Church in China and the Lancaster Family

Installment 8 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

In the last installment of the history of The Outreach Foundation in China I spoke about the development of the Mini-Library Project, a proposal to provide thousands of lay leaders serving the Church in China with biblical, theological, and pastoral resources for their ministry. It was approved by the Presbyterian Women of the PC(USA) at the end of 2001, and we received over $175,000 from their Birthday Offering. The Outreach Foundation raised a similar amount of money over the next few years from within our constituency. A key family with a long history of connection to The Outreach Foundation played a pivotal role, and this is their story.

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"This is the Golden Age for the Church in China": Opportunities for The Outreach Foundation at the Beginning of the New Millennium

Installment 7 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

I closed my last blog with this reflection:

“As the 21st century dawned, The Outreach Foundation was ready to make a strong commitment to the Church in China. We needed more insight on how to work well with the Church, whose top priority was leadership training. The next trip would lead to a huge breakthrough for The Outreach Foundation.”

In this blog I want to highlight how that 2001 trip led to The Outreach Foundation’s first national-level project in China. I begin with the following summary of the trip:

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Early Outreach Foundation Mission Vision Trips to China: Learning by Doing

Installment 6 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

By early 2000 The Outreach Foundation was well into a major project in Northeast China, the Hallelujah Church in Harbin. Construction had begun, and we were receiving photographs of the progress of the new sanctuary. Our primary mission strategy for China, however, was not construction, but the development of leaders, and to that mission we now turned our attention. Our next trip to China would be an exclusively Outreach Foundation trip and would be to discern which of the Bible Schools and seminaries we should support. Naturally, we also wanted to see the progress on the Hallelujah Church.

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When You Follow Jesus into the World: Transforming Mission in China

Installment 5 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

In my previous blog on the history of The Outreach Foundation in China, I emphasized how meeting Chinese Christians has impacted the lives of American Christians. In this blog I want to share a two of those impact stories. 

David Bridgman, the son of missionaries who returned to China on our 1998 trip after fifty years away, wrote a journal of his experiences entitled “China 1998: An Opening Door.” Our time in Harbin was especially moving for him. This is what he wrote on the meeting our group had with two of the church leaders, the Rev. Lü De Zhi and the Rev. Li Mei Lan:

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The Outreach Foundation in China: the Heilongjiang Initiative

Installment 4 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

Heilongjiang Province, located in the northeastern corner of China, was an unlikely place for The Outreach Foundation to begin its first sustained mission involvement. Historically, it had no Presbyterian missionaries; instead it had a Russian heritage dating back over 100 years. But it did have a “Presbyterian Connection” through its 2,000,000 Chinese of Korean descent. 

Among the Christians in the Church in Heilongjiang were Korean Chinese, and one of the Korean Chinese Christians, the Rev. Li Meilan, was a leader in the Church in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province. Pastor Li was used by God to build the bridge to American Presbyterian mission efforts when she met two American Presbyterian missionaries serving in South Korea. This is how it came about.

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The History of The Outreach Foundation in China: Built upon 150 Years of Relationships

Installment 3 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

The Outreach Foundation was a new missionary movement within the Presbyterian “family” when the churches in China reopened. When the time came for us to work in Mainland China, we looked to those within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who already had connections with the Church in China. In this blog I want to highlight two of those people, Dr. Insik Kim and Dr. Donn McCall. Dr. Kim opened the way for us to build relationships with the Church in China, and Dr. McCall gave us confirmation of the mission strategy we would pursue. 

The Rev. Dr. Insik Kim was Coordinator for East Asia and the Pacific for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 1973-2008. Prior to the opening of the churches in China, Dr. Kim was part of a China Working Group at the National Council of Churches in the United States and Canada (NCCCUSA) that was tasked to explore what they could do collectively in China when the churches would be permitted to open again.

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When the World is at its Worst, the Church Must be at its Best

by Marilyn Borst

Lessons from the Church Past and Present

In the early 2nd century, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote seven letters as he traveled to Rome to answer to the charge of being a Christian. Since he knew that he would never recant his faith, he also realized that he was traveling forward to his own death and indeed, St. Ignatius was one of the early “high profile” martyrs of the Church. His letters, which date from around 107, are addressed to one fellow bishop and to six congregations most of which lay along his route through Asia Minor (modern Turkey), such as at Ephesus, Smyrna and Philadelphia. In those letters, he not only sends a message of encouragement but also speaks words of correction and concern over issues within that particular church which Ignatius, because of the respect in which he was held, knows will be heard. His pastoral words still resonate with power and truth today:

“For the work we have to do is no affair of persuasive speaking; Christianity lies in achieving greatness in the face of the world’s hatred.” (Letter to the Romans)

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The History of The Outreach Foundation in China: My Personal Introduction

Installment 2 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

The year that the Executive Director of The Outreach Foundation, Dr. Howard Chadwick, visited Taiwan and saw the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, he also came to South Korea where my wife, Megan, and I were missionaries. Dr. Chadwick led a retreat for the Presbyterian missionaries and told us what was going on in Taiwan as well as introduced us to the newly-formed Outreach Foundation. 

Around this time, we also began hearing about the reopening of the churches in Mainland China. Some of our denominational leaders had visited China and shared what they had seen with us when they stopped by Korea on their way home. Their stories interested me, and I hoped for an opportunity to see the Church in China one day.

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Pray the Way: the Power of Prayer in Mission

by Marilyn Borst

I constantly remember before our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…Paul’s opening address to the Church in Thessalonica resonates with similar beginnings to his other epistles. …Without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers… [you are] always in every prayer of mine …constantly mentioning you in our prayers…  Paul was as much a man of prayer as he was a man of action. Remarkable, that his intimate knowledge of the Church of his day and its congregations scattered around the Mediterranean basin seems, in many ways, far superior to our own in this day of the Internet and Facebook.

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Some GOOD News for World Refugee Day - June 20, 2018

by Rev. Dr. Nancy T. Fox
Chair, The Outreach Foundation Board of Trustees

When we hear that this world of ours holds 65.6 million refugees and forcibly displaced people in 2018, most of us cannot fathom the reality. That massive number becomes more comprehensible when we consider that it is just slightly more than the entire population of France and just slightly less than that of the United Kingdom, this year’s twenty-first and twenty-second most populous countries. One in every 116 people in the world is currently displaced from their home by persecution or violent conflict such as war; over half of them are children. Twenty more are displaced every minute. How many members does your church have? With a little math, you can figure out the equivalent proportion of your own community that would be displaced. 

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China and The Outreach Foundation: A Strong Global Partnership

Installment 1 of the History of The Outreach Foundation in China from 1993-2018

by Jefferson Ritchie, Mission Advocate

In 2019 The Outreach Foundation turns forty years old. Over the next few years I will be telling part of our history in those areas of the world where I was involved as staff liaison from 1998-2018. I will be drawing on insights of other staff and trustees, friends from both U.S. churches and the global church to tell the story of our missions in China, Egypt, Brazil, and parts of Africa. My hope is that others will add to this history by sharing what God has done through The Outreach Foundation in other countries.

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An Inviting and Abiding Relationship

by Juan Sarmiento

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”   Matthew 11:28-10

With sixty-two Brazilian congregations serving an estimated population of eighty thousand people that trace their origin to that country, the Orlando area was the location for a mentoring retreat for Portuguese speaking pastors from May 14 to 17.

The purpose of the gathering was to seek spiritual renewal and to acquire skills for preventing and dealing with the reality of burnout in ministry. Within an environment of grace, trust and mutual support, we shared about, among other things, the challenges associated with ministering interculturally and among highly mobile immigrant communities, dealing with family conflict, physical exhaustion, and depression. Participants came from five different U.S. states as well as Brazil.

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We Have Come Together - Tumekutana 2018

by Caryl Weinberg

Tumekutana is a Swahili word meaning “We Have Come Together.” Founded 11 years ago, the Tumekutana conference began as a gathering of Presbyterian and Reformed Women’s leaders from 16 countries in Africa and 26 denominations. This year’s conference, the fourth Tumekutana gathering, will include women from 23 countries and 33 denominations.

Each conference focuses on a theme identified by the African women, relevant to the setting of the gathering. During the conference women receive training, are challenged and encouraged, and establish friendships and networks that go far beyond each meeting. Whether leading women in a denomination of five million people or “only” 250,000, these women leaders have important roles with the potential for significant impact on the women and families in their churches and countries.

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What the Birds Teach Us: A Reflection for Earth Day

by Jeff Ritchie

My father loved to watch birds, and he passed on that love to his four children. Dad always had his eye out for red-tailed hawks and owls as we drove down the highway or walked through the woods. One day we were out in the country on a quiet, two-lane road when he pointed out a bird I had never seen: “There’s an indigo bunting!” Now that was a bird to behold. Such exquisite blue in a bird I had never seen. I became a bunting fan for life. (Many thanks to my college classmate, Brian Smith, and to Mr. Jack Zievis, a fellow resident of Atlantic Beach, for permission to use their photos).

My wife, Megan, and I enjoyed indigo bunting sightings when we lived in Tennessee. Now in Florida, we have discovered another bunting, the painted bunting. When one frequented our bird feeder over several days last week, we shared the joy with our grandsons, Alex and Matthew. Now they are bird fans.

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Turning the World Upside Down

by Camille Josey

In one generation God used the small house churches of the early Christian movement to turn the world upside down. By the 4th century, Christianity had spread across the width and breadth of the Roman Empire. No master plan, no vision statement (aside from “Jesus is Lord.”), no CNN. Why, then, do so many small churches in the West today feel so insignificant, as though they do not have the resources to continue the spread of the Gospel?

It’s all a matter of perspective. If your measurements are the traditional budgets, buildings and butts in the pew, a small rural church of 70 members is bound to feel inferior to a 7,000-member church. But take a look from another angle. The first map, labeled >1000 members reflects a total membership of approximately 309,000. What do you notice here? Do you see all of the geographical territory of the U.S.A. that is not reached by these congregations?

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The Day the Revolution Began

by Jeff Ritchie

My wife and I spent a week in Washington, DC recently. We saw many museums and monuments during our stay. The theme of “revolution” was very prominent in the Museum of American History. A different kind of revolution, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, was exhibited in the relatively new National Museum of African American History and Culture. A third revolution, the revolution of travel through air and into space, was showcased by the National Air and Space Museum. Megan and I were profoundly moved by what we saw in the museums and monuments of Washington. 

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"Take and eat; this is my body": An invitation to new life

On the third Sunday of March 1557, in the bay of what nine years later would become known as the city of Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Pierre Richier officiated over the first Reformed service of communion on our continent. Richier was one of the two pastors sent by John Calvin to serve a group of 500 French colonists and to share the Christian faith with the Tupi people who inhabited the area.

The events that we meditate upon during Holy Week remind us that through Christ’s life, death and resurrection we are received into communion with God and God’s beloved people. 

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Connections, Relationships, Discernment and Dedication

Eight countries of origin, 63 missionaries, nine species, 300 churches, 1979 and 13,447,000 people…. what do these numbers mean? They represent connections, relationships, discernment and dedication in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus! Outreach’s Executive Director Rob Weingartner shares some fascinating facts about mission, witness and The Outreach Foundation. Enjoy!

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When Jesus Passes By: Thoughts on Worship and War Psalm 29

Some people say that Jesus passes by…. while the dough is rising for the “awamet.” It was Baptism of the Lord Sunday in Tripoli, Lebanon (a city of sweets) where the syrupy “awamet" (meaning, “to rise out of the water”) pastries were being passed around. As the platter was quickly emptying we were told that this traditional sweet is served in celebration of baptism. The dough, which is made the night before, is left to rise and later formed into small balls which are fried in hot oil. Watching them sizzle and skip in ‘baptismal’ oil, they float to the top, rising to new life, and a drizzle of syrupy sweetness.

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The Lord's Prayer and God's Mission

Some years ago, I began to look at the Lord’s Prayer and how it relates to our missionary calling as disciples of Jesus. This Lenten Season the church where Megan and I worship is studying and reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer, and it has become an opportunity for me to think again how Jesus’ prayer can form us, his disciples for our worship and work. 

The prayer starts off “Our Father.” The God to whom we pray, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus, is “our Father.” He is my God and the God of people from every tribe, tongue, and culture who have turned to the living God through faith in Jesus. 

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