From the West Courtyard

From the West Courtyard—thoughts about working and serving in China from our staff and others with experience and insight to share. 

The name comes from a Chinese phrase that was taught in an early 1900s Chinese language curriculum, “有一个人,从西院子过来,”meaning “a man came over from the west courtyard." The idea of moving from west to east, of journeying between these two courtyards, reflects our desire to root our observations in the non-western context and allow the local Chinese context to determine what is culturally normative for life and work in China. 

Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by ChinaSource.   

Mar 24

Getting Out of the Bubble

by Narci Herr

Shortly after we moved back to the States after living in Asia for many years, a Chinese researcher from a major university in China approached us asking if he could spend his last month in the US living with us. It wasn’t that his lease had expired or his stipend was running low. Rather, he realized that although he had lived in the American Midwest for a year doing research at a well-respected American university—he had experienced very little of American life and had very few non-Chinese friends.

Mar 22

From Training to Mentoring

by Brent Fulton

From the series 7 Trends Impacting Foreign Christians in China

A new series from Brent Fulton explaining seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.

Mar 20

The Souls of China: A Trailer

by Joann Pittman

A sneak peek at longtime China journalist Ian Johnson soon-to-be-released new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. A must-read for those who want to deepen their understanding of Chinese culture and religious life.

Mar 17

Insurance? Retirement? Shouldn’t We Just Trust God?

by Si Shi (四石)

When I first went overseas, I thought things like medical insurance and retirement planning weren’t too important. Further, as funding for those two items added to the overall budget and that budget needed to be raised through supporters I personally contacted, I felt that these items were excessive. It seemed to me at the time that these items only delayed my matriculation to the field and added to the church’s financial burden in sending me and my family. I reasoned that God would take care of us anyway. Twenty years later, with retirement age nearing, (which won’t necessarily cause me to retire), I am grateful for the foresight of organizational leadership. And with my family members needing multiple previously unforeseen surgeries, I am grateful for the care we have received.

Mar 15

From Grey to Grey: Foreign NGOs Feel Their Way Forward in China

by Brent Fulton

News that nearly three dozen foreign NGOs had successfully registered under the new Overseas NGO Law sounded an optimistic note for organizations working in China. Yet, as a recent article in The Diplomat points out, this apparent gain for the overseas NGO community masks the greater realities facing foreign groups as they weigh their options under the new law.

Mar 13

China in 2016: By the Numbers

by Joann Pittman

On March 5, Premier Li Keqiang delivered the 2016 government work report at the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing. As government work reports go, it follows a very strict script: listing of all the glorious accomplishments of the past year and then setting forth all the glorious things that the government will accomplish this year. And of course it has all happened under the glorious leadership of the Communist Party with Chairman Xi Jinping as the core.

Mar 10

An Anti-Management Management Book

by Swells in the Middle Kingdom

The Choice—A short and straightforward read with one profound insight at its core. . .

Mar 8

How a Lawyer Can Help

by Joann Pittman

Four ways a lawyer can help register your overseas NGO in China.

Mar 6

How Do You Spell “Success?”

by Brent Fulton

Developments in China over the past two decades have created the conditions for unprecedented collaboration between Chinese Christians and those from outside the country. With increased collaboration, however, has come more opportunities for miscommunication and missteps as Chinese and foreign believers attempt to work together. This spring in ChinaSource Quarterly we will take an in-depth look at the state of this collaboration, drawing upon newly available research on Christian leaders in China and those from outside China who serve with them.

Mar 3


A Film Review

by Hannah Lau

“Earthquake in China” Whenever these words are heard, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the devastation in Sichuan province that took place in 2008. But for those who are old enough to have been around for it, they’ll also think of the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. The magnitude 7.5 quake claimed the lives of 240,000 people who lived in the industrial city of Tangshan, located 140 kilometers away from Beijing. This tragic event in history is the starting point in director Feng Xiaogang’s film Aftershock.