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A ministry to China invests in future leadership.

2/1/07 China (MNN) — The Chinese government may be changing tactics in its treatment of the house church movement. According to a recent report from the China Aid Association, while the general crackdown continued in 2006, the number of raids dropped, as did the number of arrests. That reflected fewer actual arrests in favor of interrogation during a raid.

Good news? For China Partner Ministries , the answer is ‘yes’. CPM’s Erik Burklin says their partners tell them the situation in China is improving. Their leaders say religious freedom is improving in areas like Shanxi Province . More house church leaders will be able to get training or start training schools for emerging Christian leaders in the house church network.

CPM is facilitating that with a student sponsorship program in the United States . “We help with their living expenses, and then we partner with seminaries, such as Denver Seminary, who have committed to pay for the tuition part of that. So together, we give the opportunity for a Chinese person to come to our country to get theological training.”

However, China Partner is re-evaluating the effectiveness of the program. So far, they have sponsored five individuals. “Our main concern is that even though this is a ministry that we would like to make available to Chinese leaders, a majority of these individuals then, once they have received the education, do not return to China .”

Even so, they’re trying very hard to increase the number of trained pastors to serve in the local churches of China with new Bible schools, conferences and literature programs. Training of pastors and Christian leaders is paramount in developing a strong Christian church in China .