Reformation 500 Conference Voices: Bill Nyman
Over the next couple of months, we will be posting reflections on our Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong by several attendees. Our first reflection comes from Bill Nyman, Chairman of the Board of Directors for China Partnership, and member of Christ Community Church in Leawood, KS.
Why was this conference important for you?
It was clear to me that the Chinese leaders demonstrated strength, courage, and a commitment to serve Christ whatever the cost. The conference reminded me that the Body of Christ is an international body, and though we have cultural differences we have Christ in common; we can learn from and encourage one another, whatever our cultural background.
What did you learn about God at this conference?
In one of Paul Tripp’s messages, he shared about some of the physical challenges he faced the past few years of his life, and how God had been his sustainer. His story provided a real life reminder that God gives us the grace we need, no matter what suffering we encounter. We cannot rely on our own strength or try to be self-reliant—true faith is hope and courage in the face of our own weakness. Several messages reinforced that my identity is in Christ, He saved me to glorify Him, and His grace is sufficient.
How are you praying this conference will impact China?
First, I am praying for the Chinese leaders as they return to their home churches–for protection, endurance, and God’s revelation of His plans for them. Second, I am praying for Chinese leaders to be a part of safe and healthy communities that are able to care for each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
What do you think about having so many believers from other countries at the conference this year?
I enjoyed being a minority in a sea of Chinese believers. It was at times overwhelming to see leaders from so many Chinese provinces and cities worshipping God, studying His Word, and seeking ways to serve Him. It is a reminder of how God is equipping and multiplying His church to serve inside China and sending His people throughout the world.
How can the Chinese church bless the church in America?
Many young men and women are graduating from American seminaries each year, but few are equipped and ready to serve in practical ways. They have lots of head knowledge, but little experiential knowledge. In some of my conversations with Chinese pastors, it became clear that the Chinese church is working to integrate theology taught in Chinese seminaries with the practical service needed for young pastors to lead churches. One pastor shared with me that while young leaders were attending seminary, they were simultaneously serving at the church. This senior pastor explained that it helped the younger leader connect the theology they were learning with everyday service, and also allowed the pastor to provide life-on-life mentoring. I think the church in America can learn much from the Chinese church as they try to combine academics, theology, and practical mentoring.
How can the church in America bless the Chinese church?
It is my belief that the Chinese church is mature and is finding its dependence on Christ, and does not require the assistance once provided by the church in America. The church in America needs to recognize the strengths and maturity of the Chinese church—the church in America needs to step back and release the Chinese church to be the church and serve without unneeded dependence on the American church. Metaphorically, I believe the Chinese church is capable of riding a bike without any assistance, but the American church continues to help in areas that may not be necessary—and the Chinese church graciously accepts the help. The American church needs to better recognize the strengths and value of the Chinese church and begin to listen and learn from it struggles, joys, and successes. My hope is that the American church will be able to develop a healthy, lasting, and mutually beneficial community.