People living with a disability in China often live either a life of seclusion or one of having their disability exploited, neither of which feels empowering. “In China, there are not as many services available for people with disabilities as there are in North America,” said Pastor Jerry An, who serves as Back to God Ministries International’s (BTGMI) Chinese ministry leader. “Most people end up housebound, with no way to get to church and very little interaction with others.”
Still, people like Huan (name changed) and the progress of media technology are helping others break out of that dichotomy. As someone who is blind, Huan especially appreciates the voice command feature of her smartphone as it allows her to search, ask questions, and even share what she’s learning about God with others.
Huan subscribes to many of the programs that BTGMI’s Chinese ministry team produces. Last year she reached out to An in order to learn more about sharing the gospel through media. Huan told An that she coordinates ministry for a network of Chinese pastors who are also blind. In fact, she’s made it her mission to minister to other people who are blind in China—currently over 17 million.
“She couldn’t do this type of ministry before,” An said. “But with new media, she has access to all sorts of our resources. The easiest way to reach out and pastor the blind population is through new media.”
Huan asked An to lead a workshop for the pastors in her network about the opportunities that media bring to the ministry picture.
“Being blind and living in China is very difficult,” said An. “Media ministry opens up an easy way for them to connect to a whole new community.”
In turn, An learned how this network of pastors was already using media to create virtual church services. “They offer a beautiful worship service,” said An. “Using a live streaming app, one person can play the keyboard in their living room while others sing along from their own homes. And it all sounds amazing!”
It’s not a stretch to say that for many of the men and women in this virtual congregation, this was probably the first worship service they have ever been able to participate in. Thanks to the Christian Reformed Church’s support for BTGMI, leaders like Huan have resources to help keep them on the forefront of media ministry.