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From here to China: New Windsor couple continues outreach mission overseas

The Rev. Paul and Carolyn Warnken are pictured with the Rev. Wang Wensong of the Huai Yuan Christian Church, which holds 1,000 worshipers. There are two services on Sunday, a midweek prayer meeting and a Bible school for 100 students. The Warnkens have preached and taught at this church in seven of the last eight years. The church is the hub for 129 surrounding congregations.
The Rev. Paul and Carolyn Warnken are pictured with the Rev. Wang Wensong of the Huai Yuan Christian Church, which holds 1,000 worshipers. There are two services on Sunday, a midweek prayer meeting and a Bible school for 100 students. The Warnkens have preached and taught at this church in seven of the last eight years. The church is the hub for 129 surrounding congregations. (SUBMITTED PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

The Rev. Paul Warnken and his wife, Carolyn Warnken, of New Windsor, began taking dance lessons at the North Carroll Senior and Community Center in January. While there, they unexpectedly found gifts for special friends in China.

"When we walked into the senior center in January, there was a large display of Joan Granruth's nature photographs on the wall," Paul wrote in an email. "I immediately said, 'Those photographs would make great gifts to take to China with us.'"

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Center manager Renee Deiaco put the Warnkens in touch with Granruth and they met to view her photographs. Paul and Carolyn chose seven photos - close-up images of butterflies and flowers - which they took on a recent trip to China.

The Warnkens have been involved with ministry to the Chinese people since the early 1980s.

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"We met a Chinese pastor who ministered in the Port of Baltimore to Chinese sailors who were crew members on iron-ore ships coming to Bethlehem Steel," Carolyn explained in an email. "We worked with him for several years until the steel industry had a downturn."

The Warnkens said the pastor, the Rev. Maynard Lu, returned to mainland China to establish Bible schools and they joined his efforts. "We traveled to mainland China for the first time in 2005 and each of the seven years since then," Paul wrote.

Last summer, Lu passed away at the age of 86. "Since that time, we founded a new mission, Outreach to Mainland China Inc.," Carolyn wrote.

Paul, who is retired from the U.S. Treasury Department, was ordained as a minister for The Christian Church in China in 2007. "That is the main focus of our work," wrote Carolyn, who was an office manager for a private environmental consulting company.

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"While in the United States we also minister to the residents of Lorien Assisted Living Facility in Mount Airy. For the past nine years we have conducted the Protestant worship service each Sunday," Carolyn wrote.

The Warnkens said their mission is to teach the Bible in China. "For the last two years we have also had the opportunity to teach English and American culture in a public high school where 6,000 students are enrolled. This is a wonderful opportunity for cultural exchange and to foster good relations between America and China," Carolyn wrote. "Each year we have taught some 1,800 students in our week of classes."

The Warnkens' last trip was from March 29 to April 26, and their photo gifts were presented to seven Chinese friends they work with on the other side of the globe. "During the month we were in China we traveled from Shanghai north to Anhui Province, south to Macau, and north again to Shandong Province," Paul wrote.

The Warnkens carried with them a photo of Joan Granruth and the article about her that had appeared in the Carroll County Times on Oct. 7, 2011. With each gift they presented, they shared the story of their new artist friend in America.

"We truly think of Joan as an artist who has an incredible eye for composition and color," Carolyn wrote. "She is a master with a camera!"

Granruth had signed each of the photographs. "Everyone was impressed to have her signature on the photograph they received," Carolyn wrote.

"Pastor Wang Wensong had his photograph framed and hung on the wall of his office within just a few days," Paul wrote.

"I believe the gift was meaningful because it came all the way from America. It was a symbol of our friendship with the people of China," Paul wrote, "and there's no denying how beautiful each picture is. We believe that each recipient felt they were being given a real treasure."

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