A Chinese Company in India, Stumbling Over a Culture (December 30, 2015, The New York Times)
Chinese companies have embarked on ambitious overseas expansion efforts, snapping up land in dozens of countries to build factories, industrial parks, power plants and other operations. While the investments provide critical support for many economies, Chinese businesses are struggling to navigate complex cultural, political and competitive dynamics.
More on the pros and cons of being part of a sending organization.
Christmas remains as popular as ever in China, and Christians continue to use that popularity as a means to share the gospel. In the article below, originally published in and translated by Christian Times, we learn about how churches and individual Christians are using social media to spread the word about the true meaning of Christmas.
Quotes from Brent Fulton's new book.
Pondering the incarnation in a cross-cultural setting.
China’s Reckoning: The Economic Miracle Hits Troubled Times (December 22, 2015, Wall Street Journal)
China's Communist Party promised to transform people's lives after decades of chaos. Higher living standards underpin the party’s rule, making limits on personal freedoms worthwhile for many. As the economy slows, that social compact is fraying.
A look at the pros and cons of being part of a sending organization.
Depending on the statistics you find, roughly 70% of the church in China is female. This leaves an obvious problem: In a nation where such a small percentage of males are Christian, where does this leave the young, unmarried Chinese woman? Aside from the obvious question of whether or not to marry an unbeliever, there are questions much more subtle and often overlooked regarding how one should see this issue in light of their walk with God. In this revealing article, published in the online magazine Territory, one millennial shares how a broken relationship led to a revelation of something much deeper that was amiss in her own life, and how things began to change once her eyes were opened.
My first visit to Chengdu was in 1985, just before the Spring Festival holiday in late January. Having just completed one semester of teaching in Zhengzhou, Henan Province my teammates and I decided to take a boat ride down the Yangtze River from Chongqing to Wuhan on our way out to Hong Kong for a teaching conference. A dozen or so other teachers working in other parts of the country wanted to make the journey as well, so we decided to meet up in Chengdu.
Is there a place for experienced western cross-cultural workers in the sending of Chinese workers to unreached people?
China to ease restrictions on living in cities for millions (December 12, 2015, The Guardian)
Beijing announces loosening of ‘hukou’ system governing access to public services, making it easier for workers from countryside to move to urban areas.
As the year draws to a close I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you on behalf of the ChinaSource team for your support in 2015, and to invite your partnership with us in the year ahead.
Last month, the Chinese writer and public intellectual Ran Yunfei announced via WeChat that he had become a Christian, following in the footsteps of his wife and daughter who had come to faith earlier.
Are you interested in a trip to China to learn more about its history, culture and faith?
In addition to the superficial, easy-to-spot changes in China, there are also subtle changes that may affect serving in China in significant ways.
In Xinjiang, a Battle Over Bread (December 2015, Ethno Traveler)
When is bread no longer just any old bread? The answer of course, at least in Xinjiang, is when it’s Uyghur Nan. Like many loaves in other cultures, Nan is made with flour, yeast, and water and baked in an oven, but that’s where the similarities end. Nan might look and taste like bread, but for the Uyghurs of far western China, a Muslim minority group at odds with Han Chinese culture, it is a source of ethnic pride — a tasty yet sacred way of asserting independence.
The latest issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly looks at stewardship in the lives of Christians in China. Compiled as part of ChinaSource’s Faith and Generosity in China Initiative, this issue explores the biblical basis for what it means to be a steward in God’s kingdom, as well as the practical outworking of this steward lifestyle in the particular cultural context of China.
Experience in the business world followed by extensive Bible study produced within Dayton a desire to be generous. As a result, he founded organizations to teach others the life-changing principles he had discovered. In this article, he discusses attitudes towards giving, advantages in giving, and how to determine the amount we should give.
The guest editor's point of view . . .
Items that require your intercession.
For those assigned to raising funds for the ministries they represent, this book, by seasoned fund development professionals, suggests a shift requiring a reorientation of the view of fund raising. Rather than seeing it as a process of reaping financial increase for God’s work, it should be seen as a process of sowing into the lives of God’s stewards. It is a reminder that it is God who gives the increase.
The author relates how a small church of twenty-plus members in Yunnan province gave joyfully out of their poverty to help people in another province who had been through an earthquake. His prayer is that others in China will imitate this little Yunnan church.
The author looks at two lives, that of Samuel Pollard and her own, to help us understand how faithful stewardship of time, abilities, and finances can be used to joyfully serve our Master, Jesus Christ. Pollard, an English missionary who loved the Big Flowery Miao people of southwest China, gave his life to introduce the Miao to Christ and uplift their society. The author is active in the arts and has been used by God to influence many lives in a variety of ways.
Four incorrect assumptions often hinder Chinese Christians from understanding biblical generosity. Lee discusses elements of these assumptions involving poverty, prosperity, earthly examples of biblical generosity—including filial piety—and when it is best to start learning to be generous.
What is the difference between true life and counterfeit life? Ownership versus stewardship, the source of happiness as well as our security along with where we look for the provision of our needs are all elements that play a part in having true life. Moving from a counterfeit life into true life does not happen overnight but is a day-by-day journey as we trust in God.
Resources for learning about biblical stewardship.
The blog Building Healthy Families recently posted a short piece about the importance of single and married Christians of the opposite sex setting boundaries in how they relate to one another.
A collection of articles and features on those being left behind or left over in China.
For many international organizations working in China, the transition to local leadership can be a challenging one. In particular, it is not always easy to achieve high levels of spiritual formation when many local leaders are either first generation believers or fairly recent converts.
Amid Smog Wave, an Artist Molds a Potent Symbol of Beijing’s Pollution (December 1, 2015, The New York Times)
For 100 days, Brother Nut dragged a roaring, industrial-strength vacuum cleaner around the Chinese capital’s landmarks, sucking up dust from the atmosphere. He has mixed the accumulated gray gunk with red clay to create a small but potent symbol of the city’s air problems.
A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview based on the "Walking with Leaders" podcast series.
Taxi drivers in China are some of the most interesting people to talk with. Since they interact with ordinary people all day long, they are often a great source of information about what Chinese people are thinking. In this post, translated from the Chinese blog Building Healthy Families, a taxi driver asks his passenger, a Christian pastor, to explain the gospel to him. It’s an interesting window into the types of questions a Chinese seeker might have and a model for how to respond to them.
In the past year, we have heard numerous reports of the Party’s attempts to promote traditional Chinese cultural values and to warn against the pernicious influence of western cultural values. But are the traditional values even there anymore? In the third section of the article ”The Shadow of Chinese History," Huo Shui takes a look at the destruction of traditional Chinese values and wonders on what values will China base her future development.
My good friend and former student's father drove. The dirt road, only forged in the last year or so, made the ride tremendously bumpy and kept travel slow. The road wound through scores of vast, grassy valleys, each curve bringing my wife, me, and our friend to an area that looked so similar to the last we wondered if we were driving in circles.
Looking at the challenges of the growing population of the elderly in China and the opportunities for churches to meet the needs.
Whether in China or anywhere else around the world the choice of which career path to take is one that elicits no small amount of hand-wringing and late-night anxieties. For the Christian, there are additional concerns of avoiding corruption and trying to be in God’s will. How then should a Christian approach this question?
Recently, a blogger at The Good and Faithful Steward blog site shared some insights into the struggle.
In the first section of the article "The Shadow of Chinese History," writer Huo Shui gives an overview of Chinese dynastic history. We highlighted that section in a post titled “A Long and Glorious History.” In the second section of the article Huo Shui uses the concepts of grandfather and grandchild to help us understand China’s desire for dominance.
Be a Better Dad Today: Ten Tools Every Father Needs by Gregory Slayton.
Reviewed by Barney.
Government Enlists NGOs to Help Homeless (November 18, 2015, China File)
Wang and her colleagues are visiting Chen as social workers from a non-governmental organization called Ruifeng Social Service Center. Every Thursday evening, they take to the streets to find homeless people who need help. Tonight, they’re caring for Chen.
We are pleased to announce the release of China’s Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden, a new book by Brent Fulton.
For those of us who live in China’s large cities, the stunning pace of technological and economic development can be overwhelming: ubiquitous smartphones, buses full of people streaming video on their hand-held devices as they commute in air-conditioned comfort, door-to-door food and grocery deliveries, super-chic cafes selling sugared caffeine or fruit libations hot or cold, Uber and DiDi rides on demand, and of course the explosion of online shopping. This is the “new China,” a thoroughly modern place that seems nicely in step with the cultural and economic trends we are familiar with back home in our passport countries.
Last week we posted part one of an interview with a young urban church pastor that was originally published in the Christian Times. In this post, part two, he talks about the challenges of church administration and the lack of theological resources.
A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with the compiler of the Intercessors for China prayer calendar.
The face of world mission is about to change dramatically!
NGOs in China: Seeing through a Law, Darkly (November 11, 2015, LinkedIn Pulse)
International NGOs operating in China not only need to understand how the law will regulate their operations in China, but also how the exigencies of their China operation may compel them to alter their behavior abroad. At some point, many NGOs will face a hard choice between sticking to their principles globally on one hand, and continuing to operate in China on the other.
The latest episode in our ChinaSource Conversations podcast series continues our exploration into mentoring in the Chinese context.
China's Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden looks at how massive urbanization is redrawing not only the geographic and social landscape of China, but in the process is transforming China's growing church as well. The purpose of this book is to explore how Christians in China perceive the challenges posed by their new urban context and to examine their proposed means of responding to these challenges. Although not primarily political in nature, these challenges nonetheless illustrate the complex interplay between China's Christian community and the Chinese party-state as it comes to terms with the continued growth and increasing prominence of Christianity in modern China.
The Christian Times recently published an interview with a young urban pastor in which he discusses some of the challenges of urban ministry in China. In this first part of the interview, he focuses on the need for Chinese churches to be more socially engaged, and for more theological reflection.
In part two of our podcast “Mentoring in the Chinese Context,” we’ve brought back the same group of speakers to continue the conversation. In this episode they discuss what it means to be effective in ministry in the context of a changing China. They also explore the cultural complexities that should be noted when mentoring in China.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in China, you have probably encountered the phrase “China has a long and glorious history.” In fact, you’ve probably encountered it so many times that you are tempted to roll your eyes when you hear it.
A new blog connecting you to the cities of Changchun and Siping.
Calling China’s New National Spy Hotline (November 2, 2015, China Real Time)
A man answering the hotline Monday afternoon said he didn’t know why the national hotline was not located in a more central city like Beijing or whether the government planned to set up a toll-free version. So far, he said, no one had called to report any suspicious activity.
The big news out of China last week was, of course, the Party’s decision to alter its longstanding family planning policy.
The online publication Territory recently published a piece titled “In a Pluralistic Society, How are we to deal with those who hate the church?” Writing to an audience of Chinese Christians, the author presents the current religious landscape in the United States, particularly as it relates to issues such as so-called same-sex marriage and religious liberty. It’s a good reminder to Chinese believers that, even in a land known for religious liberty, there are (growing) tension points between the church and society, and that Christians need to be prayerful and wise in managing these tensions and divisions so as not to further alienate people from the church and the gospel.
Rumors were swirling all last week that the Chinese government would announce a major relaxation of the 35-year-old “one-child policy.” Sure enough, on Thursday, October 29, it happened.
If you live near a major university, chances are you will meet a student or researcher from China. In the 2013-14 academic year there were 274,439 students from China studying in the US at the university level. That is 31% of all international students studying in the US. This year there are 600 freshman at the University of Illinois—nearly one out of every ten new freshmen. No wonder they have started Mandarin broadcasts of their football games!
New areas of the Forbidden City open to visitors (October 27, 2015, Jottings from the Granite Studio)
The Palace Museum at the Forbidden City opened four new areas to the public this past month, a move which coincided with the 90th anniversary of the museum’s founding. The opening of new spaces, and the unprecedented care to their renovation and restoration, should be welcome news to travelers and Beijing residents who had previously dismissed the Forbidden City as a vast array of sameness and symmetry.
Reading Cao Nanlai’s classic Constructing China’s Jerusalem in light of the highly publicized attacks on Wenzhou churches, the obvious question is whether the “Wenzhou model,” as Cao describes it, is still intact, or whether government intervention has significantly altered the formula of church growth and cultural transformation.
As more Chinese businessmen and businesswomen turn to Christ, they are increasingly looking for ways to be salt and light in their communities. In one community in Shandong Province, local Christian businesspeople have formed a fellowship to more effectively serve local churches and society.
A new blog in China called iWorship is giving voice to Wang Mingdao, one of the great evangelists and leaders of the Chinese church during the twentieth century. Last week, on our Chinese Church Voices blog, we posted a translation of one of their posts, called “Slow to Speak.” In it, Pastor Wang reminds us of the importance of using our words for God’s glory.
Are doors opening for Chinese Christians to be reaching Muslims with the gospel?
University Of Illinois Engages Chinese Students With Mandarin Football Broadcast (October 16, 2015, NPR)
For the first time, Illinois football will have a Mandarin play-by-play and color team calling the game for streaming in China. The University of Illinois has a huge number of Chinese students, and the activity has been getting the community more involved in campus culture.
It is easy for the church to lose sight of her purpose in the face of today’s challenges. During a recent commemoration of Samuel Pollard, a missionary whose life dramatically impacted large pockets of southern Yunnan, Pastor Gai of Kunming preached on the nature of the church and the calling we must not lose sight of.
A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with Dr. Fenggang Yang, director of the Center on Religion and Chinse Society at Purdue University.
What is the most beautiful place in China?
Nobel Renews Debate on Chinese Medicine (October 10, 2015, The New York Times)
These contrasts are part of a bigger, century-long debate in China that has been renewed by the award on Monday to one of the academy’s retired researchers, Tu Youyou, for extracting the malaria-fighting compound Artemisinin from the plant Artemisia annua. It was the first time China had won a Nobel Prize in a scientific discipline.
More than 35 years after Deng Xiaoping’s ascendancy to power, a sober assessment of the political implications of Deng’s reforms is much needed. China’s Political Development: Chinese and American Perspectives proposes to fill this gap by bringing together the insights of two dozen eminent scholars, twelve each from China and the United States, to address key aspects of governance reform since 1978.
One popular new Christian blog in China is called iWorship (爱敬拜). A recent post featured an excerpt of some writing by Wang Mingdao, the famous Chinese evangelist of the early twentieth century. In it, he presents multiple scenarios where it is best to be slow to speak, reminding the reader of the importance of making sure that our words are being used for God’s glory. In the era of social media, which demands a comment or opinion or criticism of everything, it remains a good word for us all today.
Three cookbooks everyone who is interested in China—cooks and non-cooks alike—should know about.
"Mentoring in the Chinese Context" is this month's ChinaSource Converstations podcast.
Population to peak in 2025 (October 7, 2015, China Daily)
A lower-than-expected fertility rate means China's population will peak in 2025, something the country's leadership will have to seriously consider when drawing up its forthcoming national development blueprint, said a senior Chinese demographic expert in Brussels. China's population is expected to peak at 1.41 billion in 2025 and the total population in 2050 will be much lower than it is today, said Zhang Juwei, director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
In the past several years there has been a perceptible shift in the approach of many organizations working with the church in China. The shift is from training large numbers of leaders in a relatively short period of time to mentoring a few leaders over a longer period of time.
In this podcast, we hear from three seasoned speakers in this area as they discuss what mentoring looks like in China ministries, and the implications of mentoring in a Chinese context.
Making sense of Cbina's economic slowdown.
The exhortation of a pastor in China to "Build a church without walls."
Anyone who comes to you claiming to be a "China expert" is either deluded (and thus to be pitied), lying (and thus suspect), or out to separate you from your money (and thus to be avoided).
In recent years Chinese cross-cultural workers have started to be sent out to other countries but there has not been a great amount of effectiveness in their work. One reason for their lack of effectiveness is that many who want to serve cross-culturally do not have formal education, often having not gone to high school, much less to college.
“Masters of the People”: China’s New Urban Poor (September 23, 2015, Dissent)
The ranks of the poor in China today also include people who have lived in cities all their lives, and, as members of the industrial proletariat, were once considered “the masters of the people.”
If you ever move to a major city in Southwest China to study an obscure language at a Chinese university, perhaps the following insights from our first thirteen days will aid your transition.
On August 12, 2015, a series of massive explosions ripped through a container storage station in the Binhai New Area district of the port city of Tianjin. The station is known to have been a storage site for hazardous materials. The two largest blasts were the equivalent of three tons and 21 tons of TNT respectively, with the second being picked up by weather satellites orbiting earth. Over 150 people were killed and over 700 were injured. The cause of the explosions is still unknown.
Eyewitness videos of the blast quickly spread online, followed by earnest questions regarding safety and responsibility. The Christian publication Territory joined in the discussion by asking readers to share how they were affected by the blasts.
A look at the news and analysis about President Xi Jinping's US visit.
The church in China—more Chinese or more global?
China’s gospel valley: Churches thrive among the Lisu people (September 22, 2015, Christian Century)
Pastor Jesse’s mud-plastered Mitsubishi SUV jolted wildly along the newly dug dirt road that zigzagged up the mountainside toward the construction site of the new church. We stopped to let a pedestrian squeeze by, a middle-aged Lisu woman with a pink, checkered headscarf and a giant bamboo back basket which was strapped to her forehead. The Lisu are one of the 55 ethnic minorities of China and the predominant tribespeople in Gongshan, which nestles on the slope of the Gaoligongshan mountain range.
A ChinaSource "3 Question" interview with Dr. Carol Lee Hamrin about China’s National Security Commission.
One issue for younger Christians in China is where to turn for good teaching on issues related to relationships and marriage. Because there are fewer Christians in the generation that preceded them, there are few role models. Therefore, the need for resources and training for the Chinese church in this area is great.
One man who is speaking to this need is Yuan Datong (Andrew Yuan), a Christian marriage counselor who conducts marriage workshops in churches all over the country. He has also authored a number of books on the subject, including Marriage: A Covenant for Life.
An anonymous, small-scale study done by an agency among its Chinese coworkers provides insight into benefits foreign workers bring to their workplace or team as well as advice for improving relationships with their team members and friends.
Chinese Christians have a unique place in global Christianity and are entering into deeper conversations with Christians worldwide. What do they offer each other? One of the greatest challenges to global Christianity is navigating fragmentation and diversity. Another significant challenge is interaction with people of other religions. How can Chinese Christians help in these and other challenges? What role do they play on the global scene? The author addresses these questions in his discussion of this topic.
Items that require your intercession.
The author shares how his worldview has changed over the decades and how his relationships with others have changed as a result of this. As China continues to develop and grow, its need for foreign interaction will change. The deepest benefit foreign believers can bring is the benefit of a life that flows from God through Jesus; however, those whom China invites to come and stay will change according to the country’s felt needs.
The editor's point of view.
The Missionary's Curse and Other Tales from a Chinese Catholic Village by Henrietta Harrison.
Reviewed by Andrew Kaiser
Harrison recounts the story of Catholicism in a small village in Shanxi, from its initial arrival at the opening of the seventeenth century right up to the present. She uncovers insights regarding the cross-cultural process in China that diverge significantly from common perceptions about how Christianity and Chinese culture relate to one another. Well researched, her book challenges some of the prevailing scholarly understandings of Christianity’s encounter with Chinese culture and should cause expatriates to ask how they can best contribute to the growth of the church in China in view of the influence of globalism upon it.
Walking with Leaders: Coaching in China, Navigating Culture
The first in a series of podcasts.
In China, the “post-eighties” denotes those who are were generally born during the 1980s. They are the earliest generation of those who became known in the West as the “Little Emperors” of China. Typically, they were raised in a family environment where all adults focused their attention on their only heir. R and J review the family relationships, psychological characteristics, and spokespersons for this generation. They then give suggestions for Christian expatriates working with this group.
The changes in China are both positive and negative, and they require us to rethink the kinds of foreign Christians who are still needed in that country. Some kinds of foreigners are not needed while there is a great need for another kind—those who exemplify biblical values and priorities in all aspects of their lives. Not only can they help strengthen the testimony of Chinese believers and those who shepherd them, they can also act as evangelists.
While living in Beijing, I came to know well a migrant family. They had arrived in Beijing in the mid-1990s and had managed to find good jobs and earn enough money to buy an apartment and start a family. Even though they did not have a Beijing hukou, they managed to get their children into a decent school. It was interesting to watch the children grow up, because clearly they saw themselves more as urbanites, even though they technically weren’t.
When we encounter cross-cultural differences like the indirect communication style featured in my recent post on the rule of three we have a choice. You either complain about the difference and become frustrated or seek to understand it better and adapt.
How the Piano Became Chinese (September 6, 2015, Caixin Online)
Indeed, though China in the 1600s had numerous rich musical traditions that employed both domestic and imported instruments, it had nothing resembling the clavichord, a stringed keyboard instrument and predecessor of the piano. That's why Ricci chose it, hoping that the unusual instrument would so excite the emperor's curiosity that he would agree to receive Ricci – who could then explain the precepts of Catholicism and, in his wildest dreams, get the emperor to convert, and with him, all of China.
Since its founding more than 15 years ago ChinaSource has looked to a set of core values to guide its work. Much has changed in China over these years, yet these core values have remained largely unchanged. Here we look at these values as they relate to the current situation in China and to ChinaSource’s service to the Christian community in China and worldwide.
When a child is born in China, the parents must register him/her and obtain a hukou (household registration certificate). When a couple recently went to register their child, they were told that, since they were not married, they would have to pay a 40,000 yuan “social maintenance fee.” Not having that amount of money, they launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise money to pay the fee. Their story garnered a lot of attention and prompted discussion on social media. It was even covered by The New York Times.
If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend reading Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders, edited by Wright Doyle and Carol Hamrin.
Effective communication requires engagement from both ends of the communication cycle—both the ability to send a message and receive feedback from your audience. Using this cycle to reach a common understanding is more of an art than a science—even when we communicate with others from our home culture. However, it is even more challenging when communicating cross-culturally in China.
Driven to Kill: Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit. (September 4, 2015, Slate)
Most people agree that the hit-to-kill phenomenon stems at least in part from perverse laws on victim compensation. In China the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small—amounts typically range from $30,000 to $50,000—and once payment is made, the matter is over. By contrast, paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor can run into the millions.
Tainted milk, diseased pigs sold on the market, 40-year-old meat discovered in a warehouse in Hunan, and lead-contaminated water in a newly built Hong Kong housing estate—these are just a few examples of the food scare nightmares that have come to light in China in recent years. More such stories continue to surface, seemingly on a weekly basis.
It is easy to think of the China Inland Mission era as being in the distant past. This article, translated from the mainland site Christian Times reminds us that it is not as far away as we thought.
It’s not entirely true that I love parades in general, but I must admit to having a strange fascination with Chinese military parades. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it’s because they are multi-layered and there are interesting things going on at every level.
The second of two blogs that suggest and discuss three guidelines for developing a public theology for China today.
For China, a Plunge and a Reckoning (August 28, 2015, The Wall Street Journal)
Anyone trying to design an event to bring Xi Jinping ’s China back to Earth couldn’t have engineered something much more elegant than the turmoil in China’s financial markets and the resulting global aftershocks. The upheaval is traumatic for China’s leaders but not life-threatening to China’s system. Yet the jolt may have been just large enough to change the country’s underlying bargain between ruler and ruled—and by doing so, to temper Beijing’s current tendency toward arrogance, rigidity, belligerence and diplomatic hectoring.
The first of two blogs that suggest and discuss three guidelines for developing a public theology for China today.
Sometimes in the wave of negative reports coming out of China the stories of local believers living out the gospel in daily life get buried. This Gospel Times article shares the work of three churches who are actively seeking to serve a portion of society that continues to deal with intense rejection in this day and age—victims of leprosy.
Earlier this month, ChinaSource launched a new podcast titled ChinaSource Conversations. The aim of the podcast is to bring together those with Chinese expertise and experience to discuss timely topics impacting China’s church. We hope that it will be a useful resource for those serving in China.
Learning about culture, history, and ourselves through a food adventure in China.
China's 20 Percent Problem: Millennial Migrants' Discontent (August 25, 2015, Foreign Affairs)
What’s more, a rising generation of “millennial migrants” aspires to the same lifestyle and opportunities afforded their urban contemporaries. As a result, their expectations are shifting rapidly, increasing the possibility that their accumulated discontents will turn into a volatile force that catalyzes social instability.
An experienced business leader in China remarked that, while there is the expectation that Christians should somehow conduct business differently, the question of what exactly this should look like remains a difficult one.
In July, People’s University released the results of a multi-year survey of the religious environment in China. Many news outlets, both inside China and outside, covered the story, choosing to emphasize the growing popularity of religion among young people in China as well as the growth of Islam. But the survey was much broader and revealed other interesting data points about religion in China. The mainland site Christian Times took a close look at the survey and highlighted some of the other findings that did not get much play, particularly in the western press.
The sermon was "not good," or at least that was my impression.
The fourth cultural element that Huo Shui highlights in his article “Living Wisely in China” is zhong yong, or “being moderate, which helps us understand what’s going on in situations where things are not seen in black-and-white terms but more in shades of grey.
He Xiaoxin: How Far Can I Go? How Much Can I Do? (August 15, 2015, China Digital Times)
Journalist He Xiaoxin (和小欣) of The Beijing Daily (北京日报) traveled to report from the scene of the massive explosion in a chemical warehouse at the Tianjin port, in which 112 people have been reported killed so far. Dramatic photos and videos of the explosion traveled quickly around the world via the Internet. But in this photo essay, He provides an up-close, personal look at the devastation. Propaganda officials have since banned media from reporting on the explosion or posting stories that did not originate from Xinhua.
This month, it is with excitement that we announce the launch of ChinaSource Conversations!
Three coaches with extensive China experience share the strengths of coaching in China and the cultural adaptations needed for effectiveness.
An introverted and irritable man from Beijing, Cao Xiao Jing experienced an incredible transformation that led him to remote areas of Yunnan Province where he served the marginalized of society, including drug addicts and minorities. The story of Cao’s conversion and call to ministry is told in the online journal Jingjie. Out of his experiences with a relapsed addict and a formerly wealthy street dweller, Cao shares about a significant shift that took place in his own theology, which led to a new way of approaching ministry.
The third element that Huo Shui highlights for us in “Living Wisely in China” is the Chinese notion of “face.” This one is arguably the most important and the most difficult for westerners to grasp. He gives us a glimpse into how “face” plays out in everyday life in China.
Reformed theologian Bruce Baugus responds to the 2015 summer issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly, "Theological Reflections on Urban Churches in China."
Putting China’s Cyberpolice in Context (August 9, 2015, Medium.com)
In our rapidly evolving global news space, content is still king. But I confess at least equal devotion to the sovereign’s hoary (and so often ignored) envoy: context. As media reported last week, following a Public Security Bureau “work conference” in Beijing, that China would now "embed internet police in tech firms” and priority websites — underscoring yet again the deteriorating information climate under President Xi Jinping — context cowered in the shadows of the court. Everyone, as a result, got the story wrong.
How the church in China is seeking to strengthen marriages in the face of an increasing divorce rate.
Two takes on business as mission from a Chinese perspective.
The second essential element of Chinese culture that Huo Shui writes about in “Living Wisely in China” is the importance of eating and drinking, particularly as it relates to forging and establishing relationships.
Part two of the series "Positioning for Growth in Uncertain Times" takes a look at using the tools of strategic planning to develop future scenarios for China.
Why choice of Beijing to host 2022 Winter Olympics worries even IOC (+video) (July 31, 2015, Christian Science Monitor)
When Oslo, Norway, and Krakow, Poland, and Stockholm all pull out of the bidding for reasons similar to Boston's; when voters in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Munich reject proposed Olympic bids for reasons similar to Boston's; and when no one in North America bothers to apply, you end up with – Beijing.
The first in a two-part series, we take a look at the need for long-term strategic planning tools and scenarios specific to China.
On July 16, the website of the Pushi Institute for Social Science published a long piece titled "Considering the Future of church-state relations in China after the 2-14-2015 Zhejiang Cross Dispute." It had originally been published in the Christian Times. It’s a rather long piece so we have decided to excerpt two parts.
In 2000, a Chinese writer named Huo Shui wrote an article for the ChinaSource Quarterly titled “Living Wisely in China.” In it he takes a look at four essential elements of Chinese culture that westerners must grapple with (and hopefully get) in order to be effective in China.
The first one is taiji (tai-chi), the slow-motion martial art that is popular among people of all ages in China. Taiji requires inner strength and patience, both of which are required in order to accomplish things in China.
Observations about Hong Kong, poverty, language barriers, generosity, and the church from a first time visitor.
Not ‘Leftover Women’ but ‘Leftover Men’ Are China’s Real Problem (July 29, 2015, What’s on Weibo)
China’s single young women have been put in the spotlight by Chinese media for years. But according to the state-run Xinhua News, it is not the women, but the single men that are China’s real problem.
Taking a look at the global implications of China's environmental crisis.
As the cross demolition campaign in Zhejiang Province continues (despite earlier reports of an order to bring it to a close), Protestant and Catholic believers are beginning to push back. Last week a small group of Catholics staged a demonstration outside of the government offices in Wenzhou, calling on the government to halt the campaign.
This past month has seen a flurry of articles written about the religious sentiments of Chinese youth, all triggered by the release of a survey conducted by the National Survey Research Center of the School of Philosophy at People’s University in Beijing. Many of the stories picked up the angle that Islam was the most popular religion, while others highlighted the growing popularity of religion in general among Chinese young people.
These stories actually prompt deeper questions about what life is like for youth in China today. What are Chinese youth like? What are the issues they wrestle with? How are they coping with the pressures of life? Are they really interested in spiritual matters?
A look at Nanjing.
Married Without Children in China: Dealing With the Pressure in a Baby-Centric Country (July 21, 2015, China Real Time)
In China, “Are you married?” and “Do you have children?” can be the equivalent of asking, “How are you?” An American who met my husband while working at an Internet company in China, I never cared what his family said about us when we lived in the U.S. – oceans and time zones away. But since we moved back to China in 2013, I have gradually collected all these “reminders” until they accumulated painfully in my mind.
China’s foreign policy under Xi Jinping has witnessed a significant shift. Formerly focused on China’s relationship with the world’s major powers, China’s leaders are now redirecting their attention to relations with the nations around China, as well as to those nations beyond with which China seeks to develop closer economic ties.
An opportunity to serve the church in China in developing training and resources on biblical generosity.
What is it to be a Christian singer? At Harvest Church Singapore’s June 28th evangelistic meeting, Huang Qishan shared that a Christian singer is one who carries within herself the gospel, and her life is a conduit to transmit that message.
Is Islam the most popular religion for China's youth?
A family learns new ways to show hospitality and build relationships in China.
China Fences In Its Nomads, and an Ancient Life With (July 11, 2015, The New York Times)
In what amounts to one of the most ambitious attempts made at social engineering, the Chinese government is in the final stages of a 15-year-old campaign to settle the millions of pastoralists who once roamed China’s vast borderlands. By year’s end, Beijing claims it will have moved the remaining 1.2 million herders into towns that provide access to schools, electricity and modern health care.
In a recent post I wrote about the paradoxical treatment of religion in China’s Constitution. On the one hand, Article 36 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. On the other hand, the same article puts clear conditions on this freedom, making it subject to the needs of the state as defined by the Communist Party of China.
On July 8, Global Times, an English language newspaper in China published an editorial in response to statistics recently released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs on the divorce rate in China. It was only one of numerous editorials and comment pieces examining divorce in China. The Christian Times took a look at some of the commentary, and offered their own opinion. It's an interesting look at a difficult problem that we don't often hear about, as well as a reminder to pray for God to strengthen marriages in China.
Much has been written about China’s urbanization over the past three decades, as the rural/urban ratio has shifted from 80/20 to roughly 50/50. Most of this urbanization has taken place as a result of millions of people picking up and moving from the countryside into the cities, leaving behind, in many cases empty villages or villages with only old people left.
A first time traveler to China shares what he learned.
The really worrying financial crisis is happening in China, not Greece (July 7, 2015, The Telegraph)
While all Western eyes remain firmly focused on Greece, a potentially much more significant financial crisis is developing on the other side of world. In some quarters, it’s already being called China’s 1929 – the year of the most infamous stock market crash in history and the start of the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression.
Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang’s new book, A Star in the East, combines data from a major study on religion in China conducted during the past decade together with keen sociological insights in order to explain the factors behind China’s phenomenal church growth.
On May 12, 2008 a massive earthquake struck the province of Sichuan, leaving close to 100,000 people dead and millions homeless. One woman affected by the tragedy was Liao Zhi, a dance instructor who lost her daughter and mother-in-law, and both her legs. Some rescue workers from Vancouver gave her a Bible, and helped her go to Canada for prosthetic legs. She became a Christian and was able to return to dancing. Her story inspired many people, both believers and unbelievers in China.
This is a translation of her story in the online magazine Territory, published to their WeChat page.
When I was teaching on a university campus, one of the things that surprised me was the admission by many of my students that they were afraid of ghosts. One of them put it to me very succinctly: “We are atheists during the day, but when the lights go out it’s a different story.”
June 25th marked the 150th anniversary of Hudson Taylor’s call to take the gospel to China and the founding of the China Inland Mission (today’s OMF), an event that not only precipitated a wave of missionary activity to China, but also upended the traditional ways in which missionary work had been conducted.
Has China’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Experiment Failed? (June 17, 2015, China File)
The ideal scenario for Beijing is that it could establish full, total control of Hong Kong while maintaining the façade of its autonomy. But the Occupy movement and the ever more militant and local nationalist resistance is making this façade difficult to uphold.
We have a new name; we’re looking for new contributors. Would you like to join our team of writers?
On May 28, the Gospel Times reported on the 80th anniversary celebrations of a church in Yunnan Province. The church’s history is an interesting window into the denominational twists and turns (some might say confusion) that were often a part of church growth and development in China.
In its journey toward a theology that is uniquely “Chinese” the Chinese church has at various times clashed with longstanding cultural and religious traditions, weathered and responded to severe domestic turmoil, and intersected with a range of theological influences from abroad.
Many would agree that learning to work cross-culturally is one of the greatest barriers to achieving China’s Christian dream of becoming a mighty missionary nation. Without denying the challenges involved in raising up a cohort of culturally sensitive Chinese Christians, there is a yet another aspect of the Chinese missionary dream which has yet to receive much concerted attention. In addition to calling, equipping and sending the cross-cultural workers themselves, it is also necessary to call, equip, and mobilize the local congregations to play their part in the mission project.
Over the past forty years, reformed theology has become influential among Chinese Christians and, more recently, especially among mainland Chinese Christian intellectuals. This has resulted in reformed thought transitioning into a reformed church movement that is bringing about positive changes. At the same time, there are cautions to be observed within this movement.
Items that require your intercession.
Two films by China-based, independent filmmaker, Gan Xiao’er.
The persistent lack of open government in many areas of China makes it difficult for Christians to be very different from the general population. Yet, Christians in China are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom as well as citizens of China. However, as citizens of this world, they seem to have failed to live very profoundly as citizens of the eternal world. Can the tension between these two citizenships be resolved?
The question of a church’s eschatology not only concerns its future but also determines how its people live in today’s world. While house churches included a brief summary of their eschatology in a 1998 document, within the theology of the official Three-Self Church eschatology lacks a working category; it finds itself situated under communist ideology as any form of it appears to be a threat to the ideology of the government. The church in China must ask itself what biblical, orthodox eschatology is and how it can be preached.
The editor's point of view.
China’s Reforming Churches by Bruce P. Baugus, ed.
Reviewed by Jennifer Guo
This volume is written from the conviction that China’s need for church development is largely the need for the development of a healthy and robust presbyterianism that comes from an understanding of biblical theology of the church as articulated within the Reformed tradition. It frequently corrects common erroneous presuppositions and reveals that within China there is a surprising amount of freedom for Christians—and even for the officially illegal, unregistered churches.
Making Pentecost Your Story: 50 Days of Reflection and Prayer by Robert Menzies
Reviewed by Peter S. Anderson
Following a brief overview of the church in China, this book provides 50 daily devotional readings covering seven weeks. Each reading begins with a well-chosen Scripture passage followed by a short story based on Dr Menzies’ own experiences with Christians in China.
An author has noted that societies being shaped by the forces of modernization and urbanization represent fertile ground for the seeds of Pentecostal revival. Menzies supports this claim in a case study that gives us the history and growth of the Li Xin Church, a large, Pentecostal house-church network.
After defining the term “liberalism,” the author introduces the liberal intellectuals, many of them city dwellers, who began joining churches and consequently have created tension between liberalism and Christian perspectives. He explores churches’ reactions to this tension and also discusses the attitude of anti-liberals toward Christianity.
The village and the girl (June 24, 2015, BBC)
She spent her childhood working in the fields, feeding the family’s pigs. The destruction of rural China became for Xiao Zhang a liberation - and an opportunity. This is the story of how her life changed as much as her country.
Awhile back I was going through some old files on my computer and ran across something that a Chinese friend gave me years and years ago. It is a list of 12 so-called "golden rules" of doing any kind of business in China.
On June 1, a cruise ship on the Yangtze River sank during a violent storm, killing more than 400 passengers. Because the ship sank so fast, there were only eight survivors, including the captain. The government launched a massive rescue and salvage operation, eventually righting the ship and recovering the bodies of those who had died. As is the case in any country now, Chinese citizens went online to express their grief. Christians joined the conversation as well, using the incident to reflect on the meaning of life and death and the urgency of spreading the gospel. In this article, translated from Christian Times, the author offers three things for Christians to consider.
Years ago, I was having a conversation with my Malaysian friend, and we started talking about how Malaysia has a lot of British influence. “We drive on the right like they do,” my friend explained.
“Wait, what?” I thought I had heard her wrong, or that she had misspoken. “You mean you drive on the left like they do.”
We are pleased to announce a new name for the ChinaSource Blog: From the West Courtyard.
An opportunity to learn about the Chinese worldview through study in Beijing and Xi'an.
A church finds a way to minister to families facing the stress of the gaokao, the Chinese national university entrance examination.
The latest episode in the government’s attack on Christian churches in Wenzhou is the drafting of regulations outlining precise limits on the size and location of religious buildings and the size and placement of crosses.
Lessons from a Christian doing business in China.
Mao As Church Father (June 1, 2015, First Things)
In a brief review of recent Asian Church history (From Every Tribe and Nation), Mark Noll makes the arresting comment that “Mao Zedong counts as one of the most significant figures in modern church history.” Noll hastens to add this was not Mao's intention; rather, it is “because of what happened inadvertently through his actions.”
Changes on the horizon for NGOs in China.
Following more than a year of cross and church demolitions in Zhejiang Province, in May the provincial government published a draft set of regulations governing the construction and location of religious venues, as well as the placement of Christian crosses. The draft regulations were posted on the websites of two government agencies, with a request for comments from the public. One pastor in the province shared his comments with the Gospel Times, who in turn posted it on their site. It’s an interesting look at how these regulations are viewed by a Christian leader, as well a fascinating window into how the religious sphere “talks to” the state in China, employing language the state understands.
On June 4, 2015, ChinaSource President Brent Fulton was a guest on the Connecting Faith program of My Faith Radio in the Twin Cities. Host Neil Stavem spent the hour talking with Brent about modern China and some of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the country and the church in China 26 years after the crackdown in Tiananmen Square.
Scenes From China's Yangtze River Disaster (June 2, 2015, The Atlantic)
A passenger ship named Dongfangzhixing (Eastern Star) carrying 458 people, including 406 Chinese passengers, 5 travel agency workers and 47 crew members, sank on Monday night in the Jianli section of the Yangtze River in China. According to officials 15 people have been rescued with hundreds still missing. The captain and the chief engineer both survived and claimed that the ship sank quickly after being caught in a cyclone. Rescuers fought bad weather on Tuesday as they searched for the missing, many of them elderly Chinese tourists, in one of China's worst shipping disasters in decades.
“Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe.” I loved the 1974 hit “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies when I was a kid. The song is really a love song and has little to do with air pollution, the environment, or the main things I wish to reflect on in this short piece.
Must-read books for those who want to serve in China.
In April, the Chinese government made available for comment the draft of a proposed Foreign NGO Management Law, which, if enacted as is, could significantly impact the work of foreign NGOs currently operating in China.
In the weeks since the draft was published, there’s been much discussion and analysis of the implications of this proposed law. Below is a roundup of some of the best pieces I’ve seen on the subject (so far).
Moscow Patriarchate: China authorises the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory (May 19, 2015, Asia News)
Metropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate’s ‘foreign minister’, made the announcement after a visit to China where he met the leaders of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. The first priest should serve in Harbin. Two more ordinations are expected. With a new Cold War as the background, the Moscow-Beijing strategic alliance also has a Church connection with the People's Republic recognising the latter’s 'political' role in Russia.
An interview with Lauren Pinkston on preparing people for cross-cultural work.
For this post, we have translated a sermon given by Pastor Wang Yi, of Early Rain Reformed Church, one of the prominent house churches in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In it, Pastor Wang reflects on what it means to build a church.
Last week I wrote about the Taiping Rebellion as one of two lenses through which the Chinese government looks at religious movements. The second lens is the Boxer Rebellion, another quasi-religious movement that appeared on the scene in the waning years of the 19th century.
For decades foreign NGOs trying to work in China have struggled with a lack of legal framework. Rumors have abounded about legislation that was “just around the corner,” but which never seemed to see the light of day.
China’s Two-Track Approach to Christianity: Vatican vs. Wenzhou (May 15, 2015, China Brief)
Beijing and the Holy See are ostensibly as close to establishing diplomatic relations as they have been in over 60 years; yet, little has changed for mainland Chinese Christians. As Beijing turns the screws of ideological authority, those advocating for religious freedom must learn to coax the government out of its defensive stance. If successful, it could change the very nature of what it means to be Christian in China.
Faith-based organizations have, for too long, adopted a secular business model for gauging their effectiveness. This is the conclusion of Gary Hoag, Scott Rodin and Wesley Wilmer in their short but provocative book, The Choice.
A look at ChinaSource initiatives for Christian leaders in China facing new challenges in their ministries.
In this week’s Chinese Church Voices, we republish a post from the excellent China Partnership Blog. Last autumn China Partnership held a conference in Atlanta, centered on the topic “The Church in a Global-Local World.” Many of the speakers at the conference were church leaders from China. One of them gave a talk titled “The State of Chinese Urban Churches.” The speaker looks at the situation from three different perspectives: the Chinese value system, the political system, and the expansion of Christianity. China Partnership originally published it on their blog in February. It is reposted here in full, with permission.
I have always thought that in order to understand the Chinese Communist Party’s attitude toward (or shall we say fear of) religion, one needs to study up on two key events: The Boxer Rebellion (1900) and the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864). Both of those movements started out as quasi-religious and morphed into anti-government political movements that weakened, and eventually led to the downfall of the Qing Dynasty.
Join the work of Starfish Project and help provide alternative employment and holistic care services to exploited and abused women in Asia.
Chinese Province Issues Draft Regulation on Church Crosses (May 8, 2015, The New York Times)
In painstaking detail, the 36-page directive sets out strict guidelines for where and how churches in Zhejiang can display crosses. They must be placed on the facades of buildings, not above them. They must be of a color that blends into the building, not one that stands out. And they must be small: no more than one-tenth the height of the building’s facade.
Here at Chinese Church Voices, we often highlight articles written by Christians and posted on various websites, blogs, and/or micro-blogs. This week, however, we have translated a sermon by Pastor Chen, of the Fangshan Church in Beijing. It was delivered on February 8, 2015, and posted to the church website shortly after that. In it, Pastor Chen uses 1 Samuel 15 to remind the congregation of the importance of obedience.
As anyone who works in or deals with China on a regular basis knows, so much of life and work operates in a gray area – that space which can often be described as “neither legal nor illegal” since there are not yet laws governing the space or activity.
That has been the situation for numerous NGOs operating in China. Absent an actual law governing foreign NGOs in China, they've operated unofficially or with local blessing or registered as commercial enterprises.
Draft Law: Foreign NGOs Can Open Offices with Approval (May 6, 2015, China Digital Times)
The Foreign NGO Management Law has undergone a second reading by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and will now be reviewed and revised before the third reading. The new draft contains a significant change from the first draft, which said that foreign NGOs were not permitted to open local offices in China under any circumstances. In the new reading, foreign NGOs can open offices but only with explicit permission from the State Council.
Most Three-Self churches in China conduct baptism services on Easter Sunday each year. In this translated article from the Gospel Times, the writer shares questions that the pastors at two large churches in China ask of each person being baptized.
New visa regulations and how they might affect you on your next trip to China.
According to China Aid Association’s latest annual report, religious persecution in China more than doubled last year. The increase comes as no surprise, as 2014 was marked by a wave of attacks on church buildings, particularly in the city of Wenzhou and around the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. The general social tightening that has come to characterize President Xi Jinping’s rule contributed to the pressure on religious believers, as did heightened tensions between the regime and ethnic minorities in Western China.
Viewpoint: Across China by wheelchair (April 26, 2015, BBC)
The good news - discovered whilst looking out of the window on the overnight train to Beijing - is that the vast majority of Chinese cities are flat as a pancake. When carrying a year's worth of backpacking supplies, I like to make a habit of avoiding steep hills wherever possible. As soon as we stepped off the train, however, the good news stopped flowing. Carrying out even the most basic of tasks in a wheelchair in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Shenzhen felt like I was competing in The Hunger Games.
The destruction of churches and widespread pulling down of crosses in Zhejiang province during the past year have served to highlight the dilemma facing China’s Christians, whose numerical growth has, for the past several decades, outstripped the availability of suitable venues for worship.
In this “special report” in the Christian Times, a reporter talks with a Christian woman who runs a homeschooling academy in Guangzhou about her thoughts on the Chinese education system.
Due to the so-called “Church and Cross Demolition” campaign, the churches of Zhejiang Province have been in the news a lot over the past year. Whether on TV, online, or in our local newspapers, we have probably all seen heart-breaking pictures of demolished churches and crosses.
With an Influx of Newcomers, Little Chinatowns Dot a Changing Brooklyn (April 15, 2015, The New York Times)
With Chinese immigrants now the second largest foreign-born group in the city and soon to overtake Dominicans for the top spot, they are reshaping neighborhoods far beyond their traditional enclaves. Nowhere is the rapid growth of the city’s Chinese population more pronounced than in Brooklyn
Waldorf Schools are popping up in first, second, and third tier cities of China.
One of the difficult realities of life in China (or any other developing country) is the daily encounter with beggars.
China: What the Uighurs See (April 13, 2015, The New York Review of Books)
Drake has been traveling to Xinjiang since 2007, when she began photographing Central Asia from her base in Istanbul. Over the years, she has come to know the region well, and struggled to break free from its clichés. The summation of her work is Wild Pigeon, an ambitious, beautiful, and crushingly sad book.
This year Qingming Festival–Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day–and Easter fell on the same weekend. While Christians around the world were celebrating an empty tomb many in China were remembering their dead and caring for tombs still filled with bones.
This year April 5 was an interesting day for Christians in China as Easter coincided with Qingming Festival (grave sweeping). On the day they celebrated the empty tomb they were also expected to tend to the tombs of their ancestors. In some cases, the ancestors were themselves Christians, so ceremonies and services are conducted at Christian cemeteries.
Two years ago I had the privilege of leading a workshop on the church in China at The Gospel Coalition National Conference in Orlando.
Facing a medical crisis is difficult at any time. When it happens far from home, family, and familiar medical facilities it can be devastating. Having good, accessible insurance can relieve some of the concern and the financial burden of medical care overseas. One insurance provider that has been serving cross-cultural workers in Asia for years is Talent Trust Consultants (TTc).
Last November the Institute of International Education published a report on international students in the United States and American students going abroad. According to the report, there were more than 880,000 international students enrolled in American institutes of higher education during the 2013-2014 academic year.
February 15, 2015 marked the first day of a new year in the Chinese calendar. According to the Chinese zodiac, which assigns an animal to each year in a 12-year cycle, currently we are in the Year of the Sheep.
One of the superstitious beliefs about the Year of the Sheep is that it is an unlucky year, which means among other things, that it is best not to give birth to a child during this year. In this article from the online journal Territory, the writer delves into the history of this belief and how it is harmful to society. He also contrasts it with what the Bible says about the source of blessings in life, notions of child-rearing, and the nature of sheep.
As urbanization has redrawn the landscape of China, its effects have been far reaching, altering not only the physical geography but also the social fabric in multiple dimensions.
It is a very tricky thing to assess when it is time to leave a particular field of service or line of ministry.
Whether you are in the US or working in China, Holy Week offers a great opportunity to introduce Chinese friends to the gospel.
Last fall the popular news magazine Phoenix Weekly carried this article on the relationship between Christianity and cults in China. Of the most active cults identified by the Chinese government, more than half have their origins in the Chinese church. Dismissing the facile conclusion that China’s house churches are a breeding ground for cults, the article instead takes a sophisticated look at a variety of factors, including China’s own folk traditions and the impact of the reform and opening policy upon the Chinese peasantry. Particularly interesting is the acknowledgment that the removal of denominations in the 1950s contributed to the church’s vulnerability to cults and heresies. Rather than being the source of cults, the article contends, the house churches have become the victim. As the government is currently taking a tougher stance toward cults, the article’s suggestion that the government be more flexible in dealing with house churches in order to root out cults is especially timely.
Is China’s church facing a nationwide crackdown?
I haven’t actually read this book, but it looks like a good one to add to my reading list: Confucius and the World He Created, by Michael Schuman.
While many would applaud the church’s “post-denominational” character as evidence of the unity of the church in China, others today are asking whether a return to denominations is not only inevitable but should, in fact, be welcomed.
Last month, we ran a series of blog posts by Joab Meyer about social media in China. He gave a helpful overview of the various platforms and tried to show how they (particularly WeChat) are useful for engaging with Chinese friends and building online communities.
Later in the month, the mainland site Christian Times published an article about how to use WeChat for the purposes of evangelism. The article is a report of a talk given by a pastor in Beijing. It is translated in full below. Please note that the terms Weixin and WeChat are interchangeable. Weixin is the official Chinese name of the app. WeChat is the English name.
It was just about one year ago that, while scrolling through my Twitter feed late one night, I spotted something about Christians in Zhejiang trying to prevent the demolition of their church building.
As China’s elderly population mushrooms and its working-age population shrinks, Christian families find themselves caught in the middle of this demographic divide. Cultural expectations and legal requirements put the onus on them to care for older family members, but neither the government nor the society at large are adequately prepared to support this effort.
Last week as the Internet in the US was melting, thanks to a dress and a couple of llamas, Chinese netizens were gripped by an online documentary that was going viral. The video, titled Under the Dome, is a hard-hitting look at the effects of pollution in China. It was posted on February 28, and within 48 hours had been viewed by 100 million people. Yes, you read that right, ONE HUNDRED MILLION!
The phenomenal growth of China’s church has, justifiably, given rise to much discussion about how Christianity will impact China’s future...Beneath the upbeat reports of the church’s growing numbers and influence, however, is the harsh reality that unprecedented growth accompanied by a severe shortage of trained leadership has left the church increasingly vulnerable to cults and heresies.
In the past two weeks, we have posted part one and two of an article titled “What are our Young People Thinking: How to Witness to Youth of the Post 1980’s, 1990’s and 1995’s,”, originally published in The Church Magazine. Part one looked specifically at the unique characteristics of the post-80s generation of Chinese youth. Part two looked specifically at the unique characteristics of the post-90s generation of Chinese youth.
Part three looks at the post-95s generation.
Last year members of the Almighty God sect savagely attacked a customer in a McDonald’s in northeast China after she refused to give them her cell phone number. Formerly known as Eastern Lightning, the Almighty God sect has emerged as one of the most active cults in China.
Since 2002, I have had the privilege of compiling the ZGBriefs Newsletter each week. I travel a lot, which means that I have to pull it together wherever I happen to be on a Wednesday or Thursday. As I was putting it together last week, I got to thinking about all the different places that I have worked on ZGBriefs.
A Mandarin Language PowerPoint Course
Items that require your intercession.
The authors did a field study of The Church of Almighty God over several years. In their report they include excerpts from the writings of the “female Christ” found in The Scroll That the Lamb Opened. There are also quotes from several individuals they interviewed who had dealt directly with the cult. They conclude with comments regarding churches adopting either an “open or closed” policy.
Lambert writes: “China has been experiencing a major revival of religious faith…at the same time there has been an upsurge in cults, many of them quite bizarre.” He traces a brief history of China’s cults and then deals with how a cult is defined in China. He goes on to look at the difficulties that emerge when applying unclear and subjective definitions of what constitutes a cult and concludes with an overview of Eastern Lightning.
The editor's point of view...
The author provides a brief overview of ten cults active in today’s China. First, he gives the cult’s name and any additional names it is known by. Next, he identifies the founder and any leaders giving a brief summary of their backgrounds. Finally, he discusses areas of concern including major points at which the cult’s teachings diverge from those of orthodox Christianity.
Geisler and Rhodes provide a valuable reference tool for anyone looking for help in refuting various false teachings. After discussing the definition of a cult, they give an overview of the doctrinal, sociological, and moral characteristics of cults. To untwist a Scriptural interpretation, they supply a Scripture reference that raises an important question, an explanation of the common misinterpretation of the passage, and an explanation of the correct interpretation.
How can a cult be identified? This article alerts the reader to characteristics that can serve as warnings for the possible need to make a further examination of a church or group. It discusses specific issues related to authority and exclusivity, control and submission, secrecy and darkness, and abnormal changes in goals and conduct.
The author takes an in-depth look at Almighty God Church (formerly Eastern Lightning) and its impact on China’s house churches. He looks at early house church responses to this cult as it began infiltrating congregations as well as later responses as it became a greater problem. Yu shares with us a portion of the biblical Christology he developed to refute the erroneous teachings of this group.
On March 4, 2015, the OMF Global China Newsletter posted an article titled "Challenges for the Church in China." In it the author highlights four key challenges.
In last week's post we published part one of an article titled titled “What are our Young People Thinking: How to Witness to Youth of the Post 1980s, 1990s and 1995s,” originally published in The Church Magazine. That post looked specifically at the unique characteristics of the post-80s generation of Chinese youth.
Part two looks at the post-90s generation.
Grab your calculator – China’s leaders are at it again!
To usher in the Year of the Sheep, President Xi Jinping has placed his indelible stamp on Chinese history by unveiling the Four Comprehensives.
What I learned on my Thai Spring Festival holiday...
When I read the title in an email, I knew I had to get a copy of I Stand Corrected: How Teaching Western Manners in China Became Its Own Unforgettable Lesson by Eden Collinsworth (2014).
In the November 2014 issue of The Church Magazine, they posted a long article titled “What are our Young People Thinking: How to Witness to Youth of the Post 1980s, 1990s and 1995s,” written by Lu Zun’en. In it he describes the unique characteristics of each of these groups (generations) of young people, and suggests effective means of evangelistic engagement.
Christians throughout history have seen themselves engaged in a battle that is ultimately spiritual in nature. Forces arrayed against them, political or otherwise, are physical manifestations of this unseen battle, which will ultimately conclude with the return of Christ.
For first-generation urban Christians in China, social expectations regarding marriage present difficult dilemmas as they seek to remain faithful to biblical teaching regarding the family.
Our upcoming spring edition of the ChinaSource Quarterly deals with cults in China and we are looking for appropriate photos to illustrate this topic.
Earlier this month I got to spend two weeks back in Beijing, my former “home town.”
One of the ways that people in China have of dealing with injustice is the administrative system known as petitioning.
The Chinese church is incredibly diverse.
One of ChinaSource’s core values is to be a learning organization. Centuries of Christian involvement in the Middle Kingdom provide a wealth of lessons on what has – and has not – served to advance the gospel in China.
The annual Spring Festival migration has begun in China, with the transport ministry predicting that nearly 3 billion trips will be taken during the 40-day holiday period. Some have called it the world’s largest human migration, as millions of people head home to spend Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) with their families.
Over the past couple of months, we have published on Chinese Church Voices a number of posts about the growing awareness of the importance and practice of cross-cultural missions by Chinese churches.
When Father Ye Yaomin, a Catholic priest, returned to his parish in Foshan, Guangdong province in 1980 following years of persecution, his friends urged him to emigrate.
“China needs priests,” he replied.
The first two parts of this series outlined the importance social media tools in China and drilled down into what makes the WeChat messaging platform so innovative. This post will focus on practical tips for using any social tool to drive deeper connections and more effective interactions with your Chinese colleagues.
On November 26, the mainland site Christian Times published a long interview with a house church pastor in Shenzhen who has been leading short-term mission trips to Burma and other neighboring countries for several years. The title of the piece is “Shenzhen Pastor Talks about the Joy and Pain of Cross-Cultural Missions, Calling on the Church to Have the Courage to Pay the Price."
With a plethora of Christian leader development programs on offer in China, it is difficult to know which are appropriate, not to mention which will ultimately prove effective.
If a Christian from the West were asked what the biggest Christian news story out of China was in 2014, no doubt the answer would be the campaign to demolish church crosses in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. In fact, for many in the West, that might be the only Christian-related news story out of China they are aware of.
What makes WeChat innovative is not only that it offers first rate messaging features, but more importantly provides easy access to other valuable services.
On November 26, the mainland site Christian Times published a long interview with a house church pastor in Shenzhen who has been leading short-term mission trips to Burma and other neighboring countries for several years. The title of the piece is “Shenzhen Pastor Talks About the Joy and Pain of Cross-Cultural Missions, Calling on the Church to Have the Courage to Pay the Price."
The forced removal of crosses from literally hundreds of churches in the Wenzhou area during the past year has called attention not only to the local government’s heavy-handed approach toward the church, but also to the phenomenon of the church buildings themselves.
The development of leadership training within China’s unregistered church has followed a trajectory that roughly parallels that of the larger society as it has experienced major advances in education, a rising standard of living, and massive urbanization.
Social media is impacting societies across the globe, but China's social technology landscape is unique and largely unknown to those outside China. Honestly, how many people outside of China have ever heard of any of the popular social technology brands listed in the image below?
Last week we posted part one of a translated article “Top Ten Christian News Stories in China in 2014”, highlighting stories #1-5. This week, we are posting the translation of the second half of the original article (from The Christian Times), with items #6-10: The Almighty God cult murders, the rise of ISIS and persecution of Christians worldwide, the government’s moves towards establishing rule of law for religion, a European Chinese church revival meeting, and a popular Christian singer.
On January 16, 2015, the magazine China Briefing reported that a new Charity Law, which has been in the drafting stage for months has finally been introduced as a bill in the National People’s Congress (NPC). The establishment of laws governing social organizations (NGOs) has long been rumored and hoped for in China, by domestic and foreign enterprises alike. Many Christian organizations are hopeful that a new law will make it easier for them to operate in China. Here’s what the article has to say about the draft law:
The winter issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly has just been published. In this issue we explore the spiritual journey of Chinese people who are finding Christ and growing in him through the ministry of the Catholic Church in China. Brent Fulton, editor of the Quarterly, writes in his introduction to “A Window into Catholicism in Today’s China:”
This series of blog entries refers primarily to the question of expatriate Christians attending services at registered—or at least publicly “open”—Chinese churches. It is assumed that in most cases, the risks to local believers (and to the expat workers as well) are such that it would be irresponsible to participate regularly in unregistered church services. Part one dealt with some of the common objections to attending Chinese church services. In part two some of the main reasons why I have chosen to attend Chinese church services were given. Part three lists some of the ways I have been blessed by my attendance at Chinese church services.
A look at the impact and continuing influence of Pentecostal theology in the Chinese church.
On December 31, 2014, the mainland site Christian Times published a long article titled “Taking Stock at the End of the Year: Christian Times Top Ten Chinese Christian News Stories of 2014.” Topping their list, of course, was the ongoing church and cross demolition campaign in Zhejiang Province. But there were other events that caught the attention of believers in China, including a church scandal in Korea, a Mandarin-language evangelistic conference in Hong Kong, a celebration of the restoration of the church in Shenzhen, and the banning of two house churches in Foshan, Guangdong Province. We have translated the article and, since it is quite long, will publish it in two separate posts.
Crossing a cultural boundary inevitably leads to cultural clashes. Sometimes the clashes occur at the point of behaviors and customs, such as eating, drinking, or even how to cross a street. More often, however, the clashes occur at the deeper level of cultural values — beliefs about what is right and wrong or how how the world ought to be ordered.
This series of blog entries refers primarily to the question of expatriate Christians attending services at registered—or at least publicly “open”—Chinese churches. It is assumed that in most cases, the risks to local believers (and to the expat workers as well) are such that it would be irresponsible to participate regularly in unregistered church services. Part one dealt with some of the common objections to attending Chinese church services. In part two some of the main reasons why I have chosen to attend Chinese church services are given. Part three lists some of the ways I have been blessed by my attendance at Chinese church services.
Last week, on my way home from giving two days of lectures at Taylor University, I had the opportunity to visit the Center on Religion and Chinese Society, at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN.
In recent months I have been delighted by the exposure Chinese Church Voices has provided to indigenous perspectives on faith and mission. The simple blog provides an important window for non-Chinese speakers into questions Chinese Christians are raising. In turn, it provides those of us in the West with an opportunity for greater dialogue and understanding.
In recent years, some churches in China have begun to think about and become more involved in cross-cultural ministry among China’s ethnic minorities. In August the Mainland site Gospel Times published an article about efforts by some churches in eastern and northeastern China to establish churches in minority areas.
This series of blog entries refers primarily to the question of expatriate Christians attending Chinese services at registered—or at least publicly "open"—local churches. It is assumed that in most cases, the risks to local believers (and to the expat workers as well) are such that it would be irresponsible to participate regularly in unregistered church services. Part one deals with some of the common objections to attending Chinese church services. In part two some of the main reasons why I have chosen to attend Chinese church services will be given. Part three will list some of the ways I have been blessed by my attendance at Chinese church services.
Have you been keeping up with our publication Chinese Church Voices? If not, here are the five most popular posts of 2014 that you may have missed.
In addition to church leaders and ordinary Christians using online forums to discuss matters of faith, academics are joining the conversation as well. On his blog, Professor Liu Peng recently wrote about the relationship between poverty and “spiritual backwardness,” which refers to a spiritual void, or lack of spiritual beliefs. Writing from the perspective of sociology, Professor Peng argues that the most serious type of poverty in China is the “poverty of faith,” and unless that is addressed the problem of material poverty cannot be solved.
These are the ChinaSource Blog posts that our readers enjoyed the most in 2014. Did you read them? If not, click on the link to see what you missed!