China

Christianity is spreading in South-East Asia

 

From the Economist:

Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is growing more quickly in Asia than most parts of the world, with over 200m adherents in 2015, up from 17m in 1970. The largest congregations are in South Korea and the Philippines, where dazzlingly large mega-churches hold tens of thousands of people. But Christian zeal is also increasing in other parts of the continent, including Indonesia and Malaysia, where proselytising among the Muslim majority is well nigh impossible, but where Buddhists, Confucians and Christians of other denominations, almost all of them ethnically Chinese, are proving receptive.

more >

Persecution makes a comeback in China

7912438 3x2 700x467 

The new laws will put the state firmly in charge, giving the Communist Party the ability to hire and fire church leaders and change religious doctrine to make it more Chinese.

That means churchgoers will have to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party first.

China correspondent Matthew Carney

China is set to launch a nationwide crackdown on the Christian churches.

The Communist Party has just enacted much tougher laws that criminalise Christians if they don't pledge loyalty to the state.

The Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that all religions now have to become 'Chinese' and the new laws will attempt to bring churchgoers and their leaders under party control.

Christianity Today sums up what the new regulations are likely to include:

  • No religious activities that are not approved by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) .
  • No one may provide a venue for religious services that are not approved by SARA.
  • No one may use their home for religious practices that are not approved by SARA (including home or family Bible studies).
  • No publishing religious materials without approval from SARA.
  • No foreign or domestic donations may be made to any religious organization that hasn’t been approved by SARA.
  • No one may call themselves a pastor without the approval of SARA.
  • No international religious exchanges may happen without the approval of SARA.
  • No one may study theology at school without the approval of SARA.

Across Beijing, church leaders are waiting for the first round of arrests and detentions. It seems the harassment has already begun.

Matthew Carney's report from the (Australian) ABC is worth listening to. You get the feel of what it is like for the ordinary Chinese believer.

There are 25 million believers registered with the official church and around 75 million believers in unregistered churches. By 2030 China may have the largest Christian population in the world.

Despite harassment by police, China’s house-church movement is growing

 The Economist reports,

FOR the past couple of years, China’s tens of millions of Christians, most of whom are Protestants, have been watching events in the coastal province of Zhejiang with anxiety. The authorities there have been waging a relentless campaign to remove the large crosses that adorn the roofs of many churches; hundreds have been taken down, to the horror of their congregations. In January this took a turn for the worse with the arrest of Gu Yuese, the outspoken pastor of the country’s largest church, a colossal edifice in the provincial capital, Hangzhou, that seats 5,000 people…

But it’s not all bad news,

Police in some areas continue to harass and detain members of house churches. But in many places, house churches are flourishing, and often make little if any effort to hide their activities from the government. Officials appear to turn a blind eye. President Xi Jinping is waging a fierce campaign against dissent, rounding up hundreds of civil-rights activists and tightening controls on the media. He appears less keen, however, to take on the country’s fast-growing Christian community, as long as its members do not openly defy the Communist Party.

Some Chinese house churches are becoming mega-churches,

In the meantime, house churches continue to grow. In Beijing, one of the most prominent of them, called Zion Church (pictured), is so big that the house-church label seems wildly inappropriate. When it was founded in 2007 the congregation met in a small office in a commercial building. Since 2013 it has been using an entire floor of it. Some 1,500 people attend services each weekend. 

read on

Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus

More than 304,000 Chinese studied in American colleges and universities in 2015 alone. Foreign Policy magazine reports, many are coming to faith in Christ.

Ariane Brotto, a Brazilian doctoral student at Columbia University, preaches to Chinese students despite not speaking a word of Mandarin. It started in 2012, when a young Chinese man in her laboratory kept asking her why she seemed happier than her stressed-out peers. One afternoon, Brotto stopped him in the hallway of her laboratory building and handed him a Chinese-language Bible. After an hour, she asked the man what he thought. He responded, “I want to start a relationship with God.” Brotto thought he hadn’t understood her English correctly. But he insisted that he wanted to start praying.

We’ve seen the same thing happen in Australia and here in the UK. The great news is that ministries are engaging Chinese students. What’s missing is a strategy to send the new believers back to China as disciple makers and church planters.

The Next Mass Missionary Movement

According to Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra the next mass missionary movement will be made in China.

This fall, about 850 Chinese leaders gathered for their own missions conference even closer to home. They announced from Hong Kong a long-discussed goal: to send 20,000 missionaries from China by the year 2030.

The number is enormous, especially for a country that has sent only a few hundred foreign missionaries so far. Of the world’s top six sending countries, four hover around the 20,000 mark, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC): France, Spain, Italy, and South Korea. Only the United States (127,000) and Brazil (34,000) send more.

By those numbers, reaching 20,000 shouldn’t be hard. The global average for Christians sending foreign missionaries is 175 per million, said CSGC’s Todd Johnson. If China has 100 million Christians, sending 17,500 would meet the average.

However, the Chinese church isn’t aiming for averages but repayment: Chinese leaders estimate about 20,000 missionaries have served in China since the days of Robert Morrison and Hudson Taylor.

“The idea of the 20,000 was based on a gospel debt or missional debt,” said 10/40 Window speaker and author Luis Bush, who addressed the Hong Kong conference. “They see themselves as an extremity of Acts 1:8.”

China’s big goal is reminiscent of South Korea’s pledge in the 1990s to raise 10,000 missionaries in 10 years. South Korean Christians met their goal in 2000 and raised it: they’re now aiming for 100,000 missionaries by 2030.

Adding 20,000 Chinese missionaries “will definitely be a shift in the gravity of Christianity and its impact for the world from the West to the East,” said David Ro, Lausanne’s international deputy director for East Asia.

read the whole thing

The Great Commission — in Chinese UPDATED

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
— Acts 4:13

I assumed that all I needed to understand the Great Commission where some good commentaries. I was wrong. This story came in from a man we’ll call Mr Smith.

I was with a group of Chinese church leaders many years ago. They were studying the Great Commission together. They concluded that “I am with you always” was by far the most important part of the Commission. One by one these leaders stood and testified what that promise meant to them. Here’s what they said,

  1. When I am away from my spouse and tempted to sin Jesus is always with me
  2. When I am being beaten by police, I am never alone Jesus is always with me.
  3. When I do not know what to say when I am accused, I do not have to worry Jesus is always with me
  4. When I go to a new town or village where I have never been I am never alone Jesus is always with me
  5. When I am in prison even if I am the only believer I am never alone Jesus is always with me
  6. If I am tempted not to obey the Great Commission I cannot because Jesus is always with me
  7. Nothing I ever do or say will ever cause Jesus not to be with me.

There’s knowing that comes from reading the Great Commission and studying the best exegetes. Then there’s knowing that comes from obedience at a cost.

UPDATE: Next time someone tells you these multiplying movements are "half a mile wide and half an inch deep" remind him of the outstanding exegetical skills of these Chinese believers." They may not be theologically trained. They may be "uneducated ordinary men and women." But they have been with Jesus and they are learning to obey everything he has commanded.