Buddhism was introduced centuries ago as the state religion of the Dali Kingdom of western China, by one of its emperors. This ancient kingdom existed between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Nine of its 22 emperors were monks.
One of the five most renowned Buddhist monasteries, Mt. Jizu, is located in Dali.
This is the region where, today, the Dali Bible School is located. Led by Pastor D- and his wife, it has been operating since 1999, and has been growing steadily.
Yunnan Province is home to more than half of China's official 55 minority groups. The Dali region has a high percentage of Bai minority people, as well as a mixture of other minority groups such as the Lisu.
The purpose of the Dali Bible School is to equip Christians from the various minority 'unreached people groups' (UPGs) from the local churches within this region for pastoral and outreach missions.
Dali Bible School offers a three-year, full-time study course, with a teaching curriculum consisting of more than 40 subjects including a major in Bible Studies and minors in History, Theology and ministry skills (pastoral care and outreach).
Students come from many minority groups, such as Lisu, JingPo, Wa, Lahu, Zhang (Tibetan), Naxi, Pumi, Zhuang, ChaoXian (Korean), DeAng, Miao, Hani and Han. Since 2002, there have been 181 graduations. There are currently 74 students in Years 1 and 2 of the three-year course.
Training local church leaders is a more effective method than sending missionaries from overseas to reach out to China's UPGs. They know their own culture well, and it is less costly to maintain when compared with the normal way of sending missionaries to a foreign country.
However, in the region served by Dali Bible School, the local peoples are often uneducated and poor. Many would be unable to afford to pay for school fees and boarding costs. In these circumstances, their churches can only support them in prayer.
Therefore, it has become a burden of many Christians and churches outside China, not only to fully support the Dali Bible School's operation costs, but also to support or subsidise (depending on individual cases) the students' boarding costs.
The Dali Bible School's study course is equivalent to a college diploma level, under the supervision of the Three Self Patriotic Movement system. This is sufficient for a graduate to pastor a church in China.