April 9, 2018

Easter in Beijing


He is Risen…in Beijing!...and Everywhere!!                                           April 2018
Easter morning over 600 in Beijing International Christian Fellowship Zhongguancun joined the global Church giving praise to our Risen Lord Jesus. Six new family members – from USA, UK, China, and Thailand - professed their faith through baptism. One very sweet and powerful moment was when a 10-year-old boy who was baptized shared his testimony, “I know I have broken all 10 commandments except maybe for the adultery one”! His sincere gratitude for God’s gracious redemption brought tears to all our eyes. After the service many of us enjoyed a celebration lunch…


Easter Night many students gathered for a worship celebration followed by Ceilidh dancing!

Good Friday night we again heard the Words of the Savior from the cross as people from Uganda, USA, Ghana, The Netherlands, Uruguay, Canada, and China shared their reflections on His saving love.

Text Box: Coming to California!
It has been 3 years since we have visited family, friends, and churches in California. We are eager to see many of you this summer – June, July, August. Please let us know when it might be convenient to share with your church, home meeting, or people interested in ministry.
Pregnant! Not married!!
 An ancient global challenge. In our church full of University students, it probably happens more than we know. It is not unusual for our African students to put on heavy winter coats in the Fall and not take them off until Spring. They have never felt cold like our Beijing winds! But eventually someone noticed a bit more to skinny Sally (not her real name).  She and Roger (not his name either) are country-mates from a faraway land. They gained the courage to share with some of our African church leaders who eventually guided them to me. After sharing, crying, and praying I asked if they wanted to confess to the church.  They did. So, as I stood behind the communion table on the first Sunday of 2018, I invited them to come stand with me. I shared they had given me permission to let the church know they are with child, and not yet married. That’s one way to get people in the pews to stop looking at their cell phones! Then I handed the mic to Roger and Sally. They both humbly, tearfully, and clearly shared their love for God and their sorrow about letting Him and the church down. Then I asked the assembly if someone among us had never sinned to raise their hand. Not one hand went up! I asked again, but none. So, I told Roger and Sally we are all on the same ground before the cross – guilty and grateful! And I prayed for them and the baby. After the service there was a long line of friends to give them hugs. They then contacted their families back home in Africa. They expected problems because they’re from different tribes. But both families showed their Christian character by quickly replying with love, understanding, and acceptance of the other. They
joined our marriage course with several other couples. They also attended a Tuesday Training class on “The Gift of Life.” Sally shared candidly, “When I realized that my sin lead to creating a child I feared I would not love the child. But as I have received forgiveness from God and the church I am so grateful for this child and eager to be a wife and mom.” One Sunday in March they were married. One week later they were parents! Roger is finishing his PhD and Sally her Masters this semester, God willing. Now they plan to go back home to Africa this summer, married, parents, and graduates!
  
Bible Teaching
This month Mark will teach a BICF Seminary class on the book of “Hebrews.” After preaching through this book last year, he has really gained a deeper appreciation of this important New Testament book. The course demands most of two consecutive weekends. Pray for God’s strength and leading and for students to be able to make this time sacrifice amidst everyone’s busy schedules.


 It was a great joy to host our good buddy that introduced us many years ago, John Svendsen. Chinese New Year, when schools close and students are free, is a great opportunity for ministry training.  Here was the last day of a Bible week that he taught. We had a wonderful time considering the “Christ-Centered Bible”and the “Christ-Centered Believer.”



Being someone’s Instagram friend gives a sometimes interesting glimpse into their lives. Stuck in the middle of this class is vibrant sister from Uruguay that we baptized 3 years ago who often shares prayer requests for her classmates. Just one of our faithful members shining God’s light and love with friends from everywhere.

We hosted a 5-week “Alpha” Marriage Course with a great group of newly married and to-be-married couples in our church from Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Romania, Costa Rica, China, and USA. Now we are in the midst of 2 courses with another dozen couples. We’re hosting one and our dear colleagues in the far left of the picture are hosting another.

We rediscovered the power of pizza recently. We bought a bunch of “New City Catechisms” to share with our church families. Yet, we wondered how could we get parents to focus for the hour we needed to introduce the idea of catechism and the tool itself…with all their little kids keeping them busy! So, we enlisted our high schoolers for small-kid-crowd-control for the price of a pizza lunch afterwards. It worked!


During the Chinese New Year break we had the joy of seeing our own kids in Oregon. What a blessing to watch Nathan and Heather dedicate KaMakanaOKeAkua “the gift of God” to the Lord in their church in Portland. Makana is 1, and brother Kekoa is already 3! We also enjoyed a few days with Aaron who came up from Eugene. Even after all these years, it never gets easier to be family stretched across Kazakhstan, Beijing, Hawaii, and the 48. So, we praise the Lord for the times we can be together. We also went to Chicago for a few days to celebrate Dayna’s 40th anniversary of graduation from Moody Bible Institute.


We are very grateful for your faithful support and prayers as we have a wonderful opportunity to declare and demonstrate the Good News amidst 70,000 International students from 120 nations in the capital city of the world’s most populous nation.

In the joy of Him who Died and Rose Again for us, Mark and Dayna Blair
Our Mission  Pioneers - 10123 William Carey Dr - Orlando, FL 32832 USA   

Checks to ‘Pioneers’ – with attached note: ‘Mark and Dayna Blair, Beijing.’                     
(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)


Blog  www.blairstan.blogspot.com  Skype  blairstan  New Site  www.pastormarkblair.org

Our Ministry Beijing International Christian Fellowship www.bicf.org/zgc
                                                                                                                     
BICF Sermon App for Apple or Android: www.bicf.org/#app   (ZGC Sermon Tab)


December 30, 2017

Christmas in Beijing


Warm Greetings from Chilly Beijing,                                            December 2017

Like many of you, we have been on intensive holiday mode since before Thanksgiving. In a city of 23 million, nearly everything – including holidays - are on steroids! Actually our “days” of Thanksgiving and Christmas are normal work days here. Members of our church carry on their normal duties of work and study. Yet it seems the “forbidden fruit factor” makes people yearn even more for these holidays they cannot have – believers and not yet. So, holiday time is gospel harvest time!


Christmas Eve Sunday was a wonderful day at Beijing International Christian Fellowship ZhongGuanCun! Our Lord who came to save was praised all day long – in Mandarin, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese and twice in English. Each service was filled, some came for the first time, and many who had long ago memorized the carols.
Arriving Sunday morning we were greeted by a squad of policemen with scanner wands sent to “keep us safe” (thanks, guys!) and a Muslim couple from Bangladesh who said they always wanted to attend a Christmas service if that was alright with me? “Of course, welcome!” A highlight of our morning English service was Pacific Islanders (from Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Hawaii, and Haiti), including Mama Dayna, dancing to “The Christmas Star.”



Afterwards the entire church was invited to a University dining hall across the street for an 11-course Chinese lunch for  $ 6 usd (40 RMB)! About 200 happy eaters joined in. Then our “scouting carolers” set off!

We’ve heard a lot in the local news about how “western traditions” i.e. Christmas! must stop being imposed. So, we wondered whether caroling near the busy mall might end with new prison epistles? As we sang our carols a couple dozen people quickly gathered, nearly all of them taking pictures. The security guards concluded we were blocking foot traffic. But they just asked us to move slightly aside. Then the manager of the mall came and invited us to sing on their center stage that night! So after the evening service a big group (above) went to sing, and handed out lots of Christmas tracts and candy canes!   
More than 150 people scurried in from campus and workplace to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner on November 23rd. We gathered in “Café Heaven” - operated by members of our Korean congregation. Since Turkeys are expensive here, and we do all we can to keep things cheap for our many students, we wonder if the pilgrims also enjoyed spaghetti and fish sticks? We did! Best of all we enjoyed the rich fellowship of brothers and sisters and seekers from 50 nations!


Thank you for praying for our trip to Kazakhstan in early November. We had the privilege of introducing John Ensor the President of Passion Life to friends and former colleagues in ministry there. His message of life in Jesus –  beginning at conception – was much appreciated in that land so badly scarred by abortion. John and Mark had a full day sharing with many of the pastors of Almaty, a number were our students back in the last century! It was also a joy to introduce John to the current staff and students of the Tien Shan International School where Dayna taught for a decade and our three sons graduated. See more at www.passionlife.org (Of course, we loved being with Josiah and Maylee for a week there!)


Thanks also for praying for the teaching Mark led in November. He modeled “Leadership” in getting other pastors to teach 2 of his 4 classes – a fellow BICF pastor and a seminary classmate we had not seen for many years Pastor Tom Kenney. Then, since nobody sent suggestions of how to re-brand his course, “Life and Work of the Pastor” we went with “Thriving in Ministry.”  Here are the people we tried to fool, but they soon discovered behind the new brand was the same old teacher with the same old notes!

In October Dayna and over 50 ladies had a great 3-day Retreat studying through the Book of Ruth.

Every year BICF is one of the host locations for the “Global Leadership Summit” from Willow Creek Church in Chicago. This conference seeks to encourage and instruct leaders in church and society. Each year we share this equipping opportunity with local leaders in churches, business, and government. Depending on the winds of change, sometimes it has been labelled too much “foreign religion” and numbers are limited. This year the wind was favorable and we were able to host the 2-day program in our largest auditorium, nearly filling its 2000 seats with many who said it was their first time to hear the Good News. It was great!

One of our members, a doctoral student from Tanzania, said he had a few of his classmates from South Asia – India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh – Christians and Muslims, coming over for an exploratory Bible study group and time of fellowship. Here is what those few friends – fields ready for harvest – looks like…
We were again welcomed by the Haidian Christian Church to hold our International Christmas program in their large auditorium. For 2 nights, December 8 and 9, we shared with almost 2000 people that “Jesus is our Peace” in songs, drama, dance, and preaching. Each night we invited people to join discussion groups to ask questions and think more, more than 300 lingered. Those who hurried off took Christmas tracts and the Gospel of John in Mandarin and an apple (the Mandarin word for “peace” is like “apple”!) This was the 7th year we have had this marvelous opportunity to share the Christmas Gospel in this large church open to all people. Our teachers were allowed to invite all their students and our students were able to invite all their classmates. Lots of them came. Pray for the Gospel seed to bear much fruit.

Preaching through the last chapters of Genesis have been a vivid reminder of the grace and mercy of God for us and our families. If it were me, I would try to find the most noble people possible to steward the blessed promise to Abraham for the blessing of the nations. Maybe God did. But it is painfully evident even the noble fall so short of his glory! Dads who play favorites. Sons who sleep with Dad’s woman, kill all the men in town, and sell their brother off as a slave! But God’s relentless grace does not quit before all those bad boys have bowed their knee to him and made their peace with each other. What man intends for evil, God can use for good, and the saving of many people! 4000 years later, He still holds the world in His grip.  

We pray that the year ahead will be one of great blessing for you and your family. The promise of Abraham is ours in Christ. As we now sojourn through earth, may your hope be fixed on that City where all of us in Jesus will gather with great joy!

In the joy of Him who has Come and will Come Again, Mark and Dayna Blair
Our Mission  Pioneers - 10123 William Carey Dr - Orlando, FL 32832 USA   

Checks to ‘Pioneers’ – with attached note: ‘Mark and Dayna Blair, Beijing.’                     
(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)


Blog  www.blairstan.blogspot.com  Skype  blairstan  New Site  www.pastormarkblair.org

Our Ministry Beijing International Christian Fellowship www.bicf.org/zgc
                                                                                                                     
BICF Sermon App for Apple or Android: www.bicf.org/#app   (ZGC Sermon Tab)



October 11, 2017

Double Door Opening in Beijing

Autumn Greetings from Beijing!                                                                October 2017
We are encouraged by the Lord’s double blessings in recent days – our work visa was extended and permission for our church to operate was granted - both for one more year. (They only give one year at a time!)  We praise the Lord and thank you for your generous prayers and support which have kept us going strong here. We have entered our ninth year in Beijing…


In Beijing International Christian Fellowship our sign of Autumn is lots of new people! Students from many nations, coming to attend the 82 Universities in our neighborhood, are finding out there is a church in China! Some who hid their Bibles in their luggage weep tears of joy when they can openly gather to sing His praises. Not-yet-Christians who never dared investigate Jesus  and the Bible at home are coming to find friendship.

We just finished our first International Student Camp. October 1 is China’s “National Day” and the whole week is off for most of the nation. Isn’t God wonderful to slot an empty week for these students cooped-up from their first month of studies, ready to bust out and have some fun!
We had 63 people from 31 countries, about 10 seekers. One student said, “Jesus is the gateway to ultimate success. He is the ultimate success.” Another who is not yet a follower of Jesus said, “if this is the Christian life, to be so peaceful, one has to be Christian.” Praise the Lord for this time of gospel growth.

Having the motto “Gathering, Growing, Going” has helped focus our church. Though good-byes don’t feel good sometimes, we can rejoice that we’ve had a small part in equipping many for
Kingdom-service in distant lands for many years, we pray. It was bittersweet to bid farewell to Chukwunweike Okeke. He returned home to Nigeria a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, a Church Elder, a faithful expository preacher, and a dear brother in the Lord. We will miss him! On a happy note, faithful Daniel from Ghana who served in every possible ministry during the four years of his Bachelor’s program, is back for his M.A for three more years of studying, serving, and growing in the Lord.!

 Dayna has led “Sister2Sister” for more than three years now. Each month women from different nations and generations share life together. The group has been a catalyst to start a Book Club, Guitar Class, and a Read-through-the-Bible group. Later this month they will hold a retreat.


Pray for them as they plan for Bible teaching and fellowship. Mark recently photo-bombed them…
This Fall Mark is preaching through Romans on Sunday nights and Genesis 37-50, in the mornings. We started Genesis 1 in 2010, the end is in sight!

Later this month we plan to spend a long weekend in another city in China. A family from our church here moved there several years ago. As they left I shared with him that since their city had no international church, they should pray about getting one started. They had served here faithfully - teaching Sunday school, small group leaders, an excellent Preacher, Deacon… Well, the new international church there has been meeting for several months! A team of leaders has formed. And, now we’re invited to come see and share! Jesus is still building His Church!
Next month we hope to visit our son Josiah and granddaughter Maylee in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We connected church leaders there with the founder of www.passionlife.org who became a friend through his visits and teaching here. So, he’s asked us to come along and make some introductions for the Gospel-focused, Christ-centered, Pro-Life teaching he will share with leaders there in November. We are happy to do so – it is wonderful news! We look forward to sharing again with dear friends in the churches we served there for eleven years.


Mark is also scheduled to teach two classes in November, “Leadership” for our Tuesday Training program and “Life and Work of the Pastor” for our BICF Seminary. (We’re scratching our heads trying to “re-brand” that course since everyone knows Pastors don’t work…or have a life! Suggestions appreciated!!)  


In August we saw our sons and grandsons and daughter in law Heather. Here Kekoa (3 in January!) is with his dad Nathan while his brother Makana (6 months now!) enjoy time with “Funcle” Aaron. (“Fun Uncle”!)
In these days of storms, earthquakes, and rumors of war it is so good to know Jesus and the eternal promises of His saving grace. We are privileged here to have a front row seat to see “the blessing of Abraham” transform peoples of all nations. Be encouraged friends, Jesus wins!

In the joy of our King, Mark and Dayna Blair

Our Mission  Pioneers - 10123 William Carey Dr - Orlando, FL 32832 USA   

Checks to ‘Pioneers’ – with attached note: ‘Mark and Dayna Blair, Beijing.’                     
(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)


Blog  www.blairstan.blogspot.com  Skype  blairstan  New Site  www.pastormarkblair.org

Our Ministry Beijing International Christian Fellowship www.bicf.org/zgc
                                                                                                                     
BICF Sermon App for Apple or Android: www.bicf.org/#app   (ZGC Sermon Tab)




July 12, 2017

Mao's Home Town

Dear Brothers and Sisters!
 We are so grateful for your prayers and support that keep us going here in Beijing. We praise the Lord that He is doing wonderful things in our midst.
 
 As is normal for our church, about a third of our members are leaving in these summer weeks. The only way we can keep ourselves from inconsolable grief is to remember that’s why we’re here! Our motto is “Gathering, Growing, and Going”! With 82 Universities and more than a million students (100,000 Internationals from over 100 countries) in our neighborhood, we have a big pond to fish from! We see our mission as equipping young leaders from around the world who are getting higher degrees here to be Kingdom workers in their homelands. But it is hard to say good-bye to loved ones we have served the Lord with, some for 7 or 8 years….Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD’s straight through…
 Here are some specific praises…
 
 Dayna was part of a small team to the home town of our church Administrator to share the love of Christ with hundreds of young students. Terry, our Administrator grew up in this city which is the hometown of Chairman Mao. There is no church there! So no gospel witness! Our invitation was to come and share English language. Our little team of four was from Hawaii, England, Ghana, and China. But how can you share “English” without citing the Book that has most-shaped the English language/civilization? 😊 So, they had lots of friendly and well-received times of sharing about our Lord.
 The leaders of the four schools they visited are eager for us to send more teams! Pray for our future relationships.





Other things going on here that we ask you to pray for…

Praise for the new connections we have made with one of the migrant schools in Beijing. Pray for wisdom as to how we might best meet their needs with our church’s skill set and time allowances.

Praise God for the 40 people who attended the “Ready to Return Home” seminar in late June. Pray they and all those leaving Beijing will transition well back into their home cultures and get connected to healthy churches.

The small Portuguese Bible study group has been meeting. Pray for Lidia leading, that they'll keep going and support one another.

The French “Alpha” group has also been meeting. Pray for Ruth leading this, that students will turn to Christ and grow in him.

Pray our Int’l Students “Summer Fun” will build community and reach students outside our fellowship.

Pray for our 2 International Student Ministry interns, Yueying and Heather, who are doing a 6 week summer internship - that they will grow in Christ and their love for international students.


Here are with our “daughter” from Uruguay. She met Jesus in our church two years ago. I baptized her. She is a vibrant, enthusiastic, always-talking-about-Jesus, growing believer! She often brings not-yet-Christians to church and small group meetings. She just received a scholarship from her University for her program next year (majoring in Mandarin!). She is translating a Christian book into Mandarin for her graduation project. This is creating lots of good discussions with her professors.


Gratefully in Him, Mark and Dayna Blair