Probing The Nature and Meaning of Diakonia

发布时间 | 2014-03-31    来源 |

1. Probing The Nature and Meaning of Diakonia

Shen, Zhanqing


Diaconia, a Greek word, refers to the social service ministry carried out by Christian churches. The diaconical ministry is based on the biblical teaching that the good deed is one of the important ways of imitating Christ and glorifying God. Ever since then, Christianity as a both this-worldly and other-worldly religion, is engaged in the ministry of social service as one of the important ways for its social witness and legitimacy.


The Chinese culture is a culture of action while Christianity itself is also a dynamic meaning system focusing on action. The combination of faith and action in Christianity fits in with the Chinese mindset. So the diaconical ministry can help not only to promote the indigenizing process of Chinese theology and make Christianity rooted and further develop itself in the Chinese society, but also to provide an important approach for Christianity’s participation in building up a harmonious society.


One of the missions of the Amity Foundation is to encourage Chinese Christians to actively participate in the enterprise of society-building. The development of the Amity Foundation has in part born witness to the development of the diaconical ministry of the Chinese churches. This essay aims at analyzing the realistic meaning of the diaconical ministry of Chinese Christianity in the light of both the Christian theology of diaconia and the practice of the Amity Foundation so that it may shed light on the future diaconical ministry of the Chinese churches.   

2.  Action for Love:

Understanding the value and meaning of Diakonia through the practice of Amity’s work

Shen, Zhanqing and Kou, Weiwei


The bible says, “You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do People light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”(Matthew 5:15-16). This is the traditionally understanding of Diakonia form the Biblical perspective. Christianity is “outside the world ” religion, at the same time, it is also “inside the world” religion, diakonia ministry is good for society to learn Christianity in its context. In this paper, I starting from etymology study, following discusses the basic content and meaning of diakonia; review the significant theological refection of diakonal works in church history, try to provide some consideration for churches in China to carry out diakonia ministry in China today.


Key words: Serve; Diakonia; The Ministry of Christ;The Development of Church



3.  Study of Dementia Care in Jiangsu Province

An exploration based on primary investigation in four cities of Jiangsu

Xie, Ying

Dementia is an absolute growing problem to the aging society of China. As one of the better-off provinces in China, Jiangsu is naturally facing the challenges of dementia care worsen along with the expanding aging group and extending life expectancy. Conservative estimation of the dementia patients in Jiangsu Province is over 600,000 already. Well-being of the elderlies living with dementia is a social concern of service delivery, policy making and awareness building.

The purpose of the study is to provide information of the factual situation and appropriateness of service delivery to help with decision making supporting NGOs which plan to work for dementia patients in Jiangsu Province.

The study focus on three aspects related to dementia care in the province, which are

l        the well-being of patients at the present,

l        professional competence of service providers, and

l        resources available for service provision.

The study included literature review on the existing research in medical, nursing and social aspects regarding dementia, mostly in the context of China and Jiangsu, and an investigation among families and caregivers of dementia patients in four cities in Jiangsu, namely Nanjing, Nantong, Xuzhou and Kunshan. Each investigation area has a typical profile to differentiate the situation of economic development, migration rate, aging level and geographical location. Questionaires were collected from 179 families and 199 institute caregivers. Interviews with doctors, elderly home runners, community workers and other service providers were conducted to understand the situation and attitudes toward the issue. On spot observation and online witness of family interaction helped as supplement to the investigation.

Discussion and Conclusion

1.        Lack of screening and statistics

There have been very few fact checks or reliable surveys on the prevalence of dementia. The most up-to-date statistic in Nanjing was from a sample survey 13 years ago. Most of the research and surveys were fragmented instead of widely covered screening. There was no systematic evaluation or files keeping regarding dementia in community centers, government authorities, homes and institutions, nor NGOs. Without reliable research and statistics, the problems of people living with dementia attracted little attention in policy making and service provision. The poor situation of cases screening and coordination between sectors also prevented effective service delivery.

2.        Degradation of family function

The pace of development and hence the changed family structure in modern China left the elderly with little attentiveness of their psychological needs, which worsen the morbidity of dementia. The care for elderly living with dementia has gone beyond the function of family in today’s society.

3.        Shortage of professional service

Shortage of professional service is on top of the list of supply gap prioritized by the family respondents. Introduction and development of techniques for dementia care is far from satisfying. By techniques, I mean nursing skills, training, intervention besides medication, as well as necessary equipment and facilities. There are very few institutions or center for eldly service declare their willingness and capacity in accepting people living with dementia. Community based service are highly homogenous and usually unprofessional. There are remarkable defects in human resources in all segments of recruitment, training and maintaining of service staff. Rate of service use remains very low.

4.        Fledgling social work

Social work is seriously needed in dementia care and for the families to bridge resources, release pressure and protect rights of the affected. But the profession is still under-matured. There is little social support to the families affected by dementia. There are very few mutual support groups or membership organizations among the families.

5.        Insufficient public support with policy and budget

There is not explicit budget priority and practical social policy supporting elderlies living with dementia. Dementia care is highly professional and thus costly. Without sufficient budget and policy support, there is little incentive and chances to develop affordable services. The burden of dementia care is overloaded on medical treatment rather than on other segments of nursing, social work, training and other intervention.

6.        Weak awareness about dementia

There is not effective and sufficient public education and knowledge training either for relevant professional workers or the general public. As a result, early diagnoses and intervention is rare. Since dementia is mostly irreversible, people of different roles show little confidence and interest in efforts attempting to improve the situation of elderlies living with dementia. This fact greatly prevented commitment to the issue.

7.        Gender perspective

Through gender lens, the issue of dementia not only affects more women patients, but also caregivers among whom women are absolutly the majority. Compounded by the economic disadvantage of old women, the problem turns up with a remarkable female inclination, which is not yet a sensitive concern in local context.

8.        Stigma

Stigma is not a major concern in local context as in western countries. Yet the problem is still reflected in the life of affected people. Patients and their family members are hesitated to accept the fact, which hinders early identification and intervention. The elderly with dementia are usually restricted at home with little social support. The situation is similar as those of the other disabled.



Based on the study, the researcher proposes recommendations both for policy makers and NGO practioners committed to dementia service provision.

For policy improvement:

1.        Demetia service should be differentiated from general elderly care for physically disabled due to its uniqueness of psychal disorder and behavioral problems which impose special requirements in care and facilities. Financial and non-monetary support from government should consider the profession of dementia care to encourage professional and diversified services and keep eyes on the economic stratification of patients to guarantee basic welfare.

2.        Dementia care is a time consuming task, especially for those family members who are still working. Since “seeing old parents frequently” has been put into the law for protecting old peoples rights, there is sufficient reason to legalize more free days for working family members who are taking care of their parents with dementia.

3.        Dementia meets all the criteria of “Clinical Chronical Disease Category” (CCDC) in medical insurance, which entitles the patients with more privilege in remission of clinic service. In economically developed province like Jiangsu, the social issurance system should consider policy reform to include dementia into the CCDC to relief the burden of families and promote professional intervention of the disease.

4.        Education sector and government departments should be far sighted to plan and support vocational training and education on nursing, therapy, and social work for professional human resources to meet the needs of specialized services of dementia care.

5.        To improve qualification system of professional caregivers so as to encourage career development and maintain the staff.

6.        To include cognition function test into regulare health checks for the elderly so as to promote early diagnose and intervention of dementia.

Recommendation for NGO practioners:

1.        To build up profession comepetence for sake of qualified and diversified services for dementia patients and their families. Borrowing external experiences and localizing them to fit into the context and needs are both important to professionalize the services.

2.        Cooperation with traditional media and self-media can remarkablly help with knowledge spread and advocacy, which are essential to make up a complete function of NGO sector in service provision, education and advocacy.

3.        To get involved and support networking among families with dementia patient to cultivate mutual supporting groups based on geographically practical scope. Utilizing internet social tools will hopefully overcome the traditional difficulties of time limitation in group activities and resources sharing.