What a joy to gather recently with new families from Beijing International Christian Fellowship! Several of these young parents that we married are now starting their families. Just imagine giving birth to your firstborn with a medical team that cannot speak English? What a high drama setting to put your Mandarin to the test!
God in His mercy gave new life to these 8 families from around the world – England, Nigeria, Ghana, USA, Sri Lanka/Ethiopia, India, China, Malawi….
Dayna and her team of sisters did a fantastic job hosting this “Celebration Mama’s” – encouraging young families in their high calling. It was especially happy to gather together as many of us had only seen each other on Zoom screens for the last five months.
Many thanks for your prayers and encouragement for Dayna’s surgery Tuesday. It went very well. Not only did they take out her gall bladder, but also…stones inside it! After just one night in hospital, she’s been recuperating at home. We are truly grateful!
Our Next Assignment?
As we shared in our last letter, I am no longer the pastor of the ZGC English congregation. Several factors led us to make this decision.
COVID has brought huge changes to our church that will linger for several years. So, we think it is right for a new team to lead the church forward for the next decades.
In 2019 our Zhongguancun location of Beijing International Christian Fellowship had over 1000 worshippers from 100 countries worshipping in English, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, and Indonesian services.
Now our Japanese and Indonesian fellowships are closed. Their members and leaders are back in their homelands. Our Japanese pastor who was forced out of China almost 2 years ago has planted an international church in Tokyo and many of his former members now join their services on Zoom. Our Indonesian pastor is looking for his next pastoral posting within his denomination in Indonesia. Their congregants are now joining churches across that 17,000 island nation.
Our Korean congregation is in South Korea. Some gather physically in Seoul and they post their service on You Tube. (I preached for them last Sunday: https://youtu.be/7eZ4zEAE9xQ ).
As most of our Mandarin congregation live here, they are moving forward as best they can with on-line services and leadership training. A number of their international members are stuck outside China.
About half of our English congregation are stuck in their homelands with no return date in sight. People are weary of services on Zoom, now in week 26. Most of our International students in Beijing are still locked down on the 82 Universities that surround us. Nobody is sure what the upcoming 2020/2021 academic year will look like, but few have high hopes.
There is no word when churches will be allowed to gather in Beijing. Authorities have assigned churches the same priority level as the marathon race! What a great way for the Communists to protect the Christians from the virus, no contact at all!
Our church no longer has a physical location. And with no location we technically forfeit our government authorization to meet. (We trust we can get this back whenever ‘normalcy’ returns.) As we never knew when/if the door would open, we paid for a costly empty space for over six months and now the church is in significant debt.
None of these problems are insurmountable. But it seems increasingly clear ZGC’s future opportunities will ripen after we can be here. Once our current visa expires in June 2021, it is highly unlikely for a couple in their 60’s to be re-invited to China.
We are confident when global doors open thousands of energetic and talented global Christian leaders will again pour into Beijing. And Jesus has not changed His plan, “He will build His church.”
But this will need a leadership team for the long haul that is united. I am sorry to say that after several months of discussions, our eldership team is fractured. We have hit a wall in communication/relationship breakdown. It is not heresy or immorality on anyone’s part. So, in brief, we thought it best to step down from leadership earlier than we planned.
The main thing we all can do is pray for the church to be united and faithful in this challenging season and ready to seize the great opportunities that will come when the global floodgates open again. We look to Him in hope.
Now Dayna and I are enjoying the 11 years of relationships we have with friends in our church and the dozen other churches in the BICF. Dayna recently spoke to a Filipina women’s group, I recently preached for the Koreans and the Russians and in the Haidian 3-Self church. I taught a class for preachers in another BICF English congregation. I will co-teach a BICF Seminary class on Christian Education. And we continue to meet with young leaders seeking mentoring, coaching, prayer, and encouragement.
Longer term, our hope is for the global virus picture to change, and flights out of Beijing to become plentiful and affordable. Right now, Beijing is a safe place for geezers to wait for a vaccine! We are open and anticipating our next ministry assignment wherever the Lord has for us. Our family are so grateful for your prayers and insight.
In the meantime, we humbly appreciate the privilege and responsibility of your financial support and faithful prayers and endeavor to serve the Kingdom advance here as fully as we can each day.
How Pleasant to Dwell with Brothers in Unity!
Please continue to pray for these faithful pastors in the Beijing International Christian Fellowship. It has been a joy to partner in Gospel ministry with them for the last eleven years.
We enjoyed breakfast together a couple weeks ago. This is about half the pastor’s team, others are still stuck in their homelands around the world.
Holding Unswervingly to the Hope we Profess! 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.’
Electronic transfers: https://give.pioneers.org/p-75-give-to-a-missionary-or-project.aspx
(Our Account # is 110565, Mark and Dayna Blair)
Web Site www.pastormarkblair.org
Our Ministry Beijing International Christian Fellowship www.bicf.org