The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Nevertheless Chinese missionary attrition rates are high. A study performed using interviews with long-term Chinese missionaries and focus groups with short-term Chinese medical missionaries revealed several factors related to missionary attrition. This article examines the role of one of those factors—parent and extended family issues—and offers suggestions for resolving difficulties.
Chinese children generally want to please their parents. Traditional Chinese culture encourages this, and those children who fall outside of this cultural norm may even be looked down upon by their peers. So what do Chinese Christians do if they want to become missionaries? How can they blend their responsibilities toward parents with the calling they feel from God to go to a foreign country to share the gospel?
Financial issues significantly impact Chinese missionary-sending sustainability. For those Chinese physicians with mission field experience, greater degrees of field experience correlate with a greater ascribed degree of importance placed on these financial issues. Currently prospective Chinese medical missionary financial expectations are high. These expectations do not necessarily match with the lived reality of Chinese non-medical missionaries. Financial support models which can facilitate sending of Chinese missionary physicians need development.
The church in China is in a period of incredible growth. Concurrent with this exponential numerical growth, Chinese Christians have developed a passionate interest in taking the gospel to parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe where relatively few Christians live scattered among two billion non-Christian people.
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.
Chinese physicians who want to be missionaries outside of China face significant challenges. One of these is maintaining a Chinese medical license once outside the country. Another is obtaining the required continuing medical education units required by law. In addition, obtaining a license to practice medicine in another country is a difficult process. The author addresses these and other issues facing medical doctors who desire to do mission work and also suggests possible solutions for some of the difficulties.
The Chinese church has a growing passion to participate in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Nevertheless, previous studies have highlighted a lack of cultural awareness and linguistic ability among Chinese missionaries hindering missionary effectiveness. I recently conducted interviews with Chinese missionaries. Data from these interviews suggest that Chinese missionaries are being better trained and becoming increasingly adept at culturally contextualizing the gospel message. This kind of forward progress should be strongly encouraged.