[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] A new link between the Church of Pakistan and Christians in China started last month with the very first visit to the neighbouring country by an official delegation led by the Moderator of the Pakistan Church.
The Rt Revd Samuel Azariah, along with eight representatives from Pakistan, met with Christians of the People's Republic of China from 16 - 26 May following an invitation from the China Christian Council, through its Vice-President and General Secretary, the Revd Baoping Kan. The two leaders serve together on the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches.
Bishop Samuel Azariah said, “As the Church of Pakistan this was the first step in the history of the church to establish a relationship of our own with a church in the East. We wanted to reach out and see the changes in China and as good neighbours we want our churches to develop good cooperation.” Although the countries are close and many people now fly in and out of China, he said the churches have never used that fact to their advantage.
The Bishop said, “This is not only a breakthrough of a new relationship but an opportunity of learning for both churches on mission, self-reliance and development. We see China as a church which has developed its confidence recently on its own with its own resources. We believe that is something we can learn from and we hope that we as the Church of Pakistan can achieve self reliance just as they have done.”
According to the Bishop, the churches in China are celebrating a post denominational period, as there are no official Church denominations in China. They identify themselves as the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) which caters to the pastoral needs of the churches and its members, and for administrative purposes the China Christian Council, both at the national and provincial levels, take care of international relations and administration.
The Bishop hopes the visit will develop a relationship of love and prayer, caring and sharing, a joint Christian witness. He said, “ We can see the importance of how we can cooperate in terms of mission and in joint ventures in sharing the gospel, leadership training and theological education. We are looking forward to receiving a delegation from China in the next 6 or 7 months and further ahead we would like to develop exchanges with pastors, youth leaders, women’s ministry leaders and others.”