GWU School of Divinity Welcomes Chinese Christian Leaders for Intensive Training

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University Partners with Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for Leadership Seminar

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Two leaders from government-registered Christian churches in China visited Gardner-Webb University recently through a collaboration with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in Charlotte, N.C. Paul Yu, a licensed pastor, and Christina Zheng, a preacher and curator of the Ruth Bell Graham Museum in Huai’an city in the central Jiangsu province of Eastern China, participated in the Global Leadership Seminar.

Dr. Terry Casiño, Professor of Missiology and Intercultural Studies at the GWU School of Divinity, developed the curriculum for the intensive five-day seminar after being contacted by the project manager of BGEA Chinese Ministries. “The primary purpose of the Global Leadership Seminar is to establish strategic global affiliation by providing international Christian leaders with opportunities to experience short-term, high impact educational training and learning experiences in a university setting,” Casiño affirmed.

The seminar received approval from the Dean of the School of Divinity, Dr. Robert Canoy, and the Associate Provost for Professional and Graduate Studies, Dr. Franki Burch. The Chinese leaders attended selected School of Divinity (SOD) classes in missiology, intercultural studies, theology, and biblical studies. They joined the SOD chapel event commemorating the 500th year of the Reformation and participated in other activities on campus. They gave presentations to SOD students and also spoke at Crestview Baptist Church in Shelby, N.C. David Webb, founding president of United Christian Missions in Boiling Springs, explained to the leaders how his small organization trains national leaders in Nicaragua. Dr. Lily Xiao, GWU Associate Professor of Management Information Systems, accompanied the leaders to South Carolina, which included a visit with a divinity alumnus from Brazil, the Rev. Antonio Duarte, who ministers to the Hispanic community of over 4,000 in Gaffney.

Casiño received positive feedback from everyone involved in the program. “Divinity students and the wider University community gained new perspectives on how foreigners can establish collaborative ministry efforts through government-registered churches in a country with a population of approximately 1.4 billion,” he assessed. “The seminar was an eye-opener to the Chinese leaders. They noted especially the various teaching styles of the professors and the interactive nature of the classes, which is rare in China as many classrooms tend to have a large number of students. One participant assessed the program as a ‘wonderful learning experience’ and the other said the free interaction with students and professors was one of the highlights.”

Officials with BGEA were pleased with the outcome of this first program, and are already thinking about future offerings, Casiño noted. “I am also looking into the potential of expanding this type of program to strategic affiliations in other parts of the world.”

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University’s purpose is to advance the Kingdom of God through Christian higher education by preparing graduates for professional and personal success, instilling in them a deep commitment to service and leadership, and equipping them for well-rounded lives of lasting impact, Pro Deo et Humanitate (For God and Humanity).