In his recent post, “The Challenges of Localization,” Swells in the Middle Kingdom says developments this year in China are pushing organizations like his own to hasten the process of turning their work over to local believers.
Weibo From A to Z: A Look Back at the Biggest Trending Topics of 2016 (December 27, 2016, What’s on Weibo)
As we are getting ready for a new year, What’s on Weibo reflects on the most popular trending stories on Chinese social media in 2016. It was a year where many things happened, from political controversies to online scandals and social hypes. Sometimes the most trivial things got big, while the biggest things remained trivial.
This is the fourth in a five-part series on localization of China ministry. Each essay centers on a different issue that the author has encountered as his organization goes through the process of handing over key leadership to local believers. The challenges are real, and the process is ongoing, meaning that some essays contain as many questions as answers.
Theological books and resources from the West are widely available in China today and have become increasingly popular. What the Chinese church lacks, however, are books written by Chinese pastors and theologians. In the article below, originally published in Gospel Times, a pastor gives his thoughts on why Chinese pastors don’t write books.
Celebrating Christmas as an English teacher in China was the gift of a lifetime.
The ChinaSource Team would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. As you celebrate this joyous season, please remember to pray for Christians in China who will be using the holiday to share the gospel with their family and friends.
Attempts to ‘Clean Up Beijing’ Target Low-Cost Migrant Homes (December 15, 2016, China File)
Amid worsening pollution and traffic woes, the municipal government last year said it wants to cap Beijing’s population at 23 million by 2020. At the end of 2015, the Chinese capital had 21.7 million residents, including migrant workers who stay in the city for at least six months. Each of its districts has also set its own targets for curbing population growth. For example, Haidian, where Li is living, wants to reduce its population from 3.71 million in 2015 to 3.13 million by 2020, a 16 percent cut, according to a government plan released in January.
With only 12 day before the implementation of the new Foreign NGO Law, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has finally released a list of the professional supervisory units (PSU) for foreign NGOs seeking registration.
In this article, originally published in Gospel Times, a Christian openly wonders about the effectiveness Christmas evangelistic services.
This is the third in a five-part series on localization of China ministry. Each essay centers on a different issue that the author has encountered as his organization goes through the process of handing over key leadership to local believers. The challenges are real, and the process is ongoing, meaning that some essays contain as many questions as answers.
首要推荐的100 个国内族群(100 Priority Unreached People Groups in China)
A Catalog of Websites on Missions
Many indigenous mission agencies have already been born in China; however, most are still in the beginning stages needing nurture, help, and support. Since Mr. Chang has worked with international mission agencies in China, he understands many of the issues faced by these new, indigenous organizations. More recently he, along with key leaders from several churches, got together and started to brainstorm about forming a local mission organization to bring God’s word to minority people groups in China.
Edited by two Chinese missiologists and available only in Chinese, this prayer guide lists the top 100 unreached people groups in China with the purpose of encouraging China’s churches to adopt these groups. In addition to listing China’s minority groups, it also contains an extensive article on the status of evangelization among minority people groups.
The author provides us with a research report on a Tibetan people group in the Gyairong region of Sichuan. He gives background and then traces his church’s involvement with this people group. He goes on to relate the history of missionary work among these people and lessons learned that can be helpful in bringing the gospel to them today.
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 author asks the question: “Is the Chinese church truly ready to face the task of world evangelism?” He goes on to discuss ten issues facing the mission endeavor as Chinese churches begin to send out workers. He addresses the focus of missions, its work, management, and goals among other topics. He also highlights the need for supportive care for the missionaries themselves.
Items requiring your intercession.
In order to experience his Muslim friends' Ramadan period, Rev. Mark chose to observe this Muslim holy month. He shares some of his experiences during that month and the lessons God taught him. He finds similarities between his experiences and those faced by Christian workers who cross cultures to share the gospel.
The guest editors' point of view.
Implementation of China’s new Foreign NGO Management Law is now only two weeks away and much confusion remains.
Lost lives: the battle of China's invisible children to recover missed years (December 14, 2016, Reuters)
Ending the one-child policy has left people like Li scrambling to make up for lost years, resentful as they fear this recognition may have come too late and unsure what the government is going to do to help them make up for those years. Li missed out on an education and struggled to learn everything by herself, using library books borrowed under her elder sister's name with her family unable to afford a tutor.
Events over this past year suggest that, for those serving in China, the days ahead will likely be anything but “business as usual.” In this issue of The Lantern we look at how ChinaSource is responding to these changes by encouraging those who serve to “understand the times” and by identifying opportunities for equipping the church in China to face what may lie ahead.
This is the second in a five-part series on localization of China ministry. Each essay centers on a different issue that the author has encountered as his organization goes through the process of handing over key leadership to local believers. The challenges are real, and the process is ongoing, meaning that some essays contain as many questions as answers.
If you happen to find yourself in Beijing this Christmas, be sure to stop by the Haidian Christian Church to see the Christmas Tree in the square in front of the church. This is a report from Gospel Times about the lighting of the tree.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Hannah Lau, a non-profit marketing consultant and the author of Wherever You Go: A Conversation about Life, Faith, and Courage.
This is the first in a five-part series on localization of China ministry. Each essay centers on a different issue that the author has encountered as his organization goes through the process of handing over key leadership to local believers. The challenges are real, and the process is ongoing, meaning that some essays contain as many questions as answers.
How Does Education In China Compare With Other Countries? (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
The ability of a country to cultivate its capacity for innovation rests with its domestic education system. A well-educated workforce is instrumental to technological and scientific discovery, which can propel states to the apex of the increasingly innovation-based global economy. This need is particularly salient for China as its leaders seek to push the Chinese economy up the global value chain.
According to China Daily, one out of every thousand people in China is a multimillionaire. Yet China’s newfound wealth does not yet appear to be translating into greater generosity. In a worldwide survey, the London-based Charities Aid Foundation ranked China last among 140 countries. Could that change?
In this podcast Dr. Scott Rodin talks about efforts to develop faithful stewards among believers in China through the Faith and Generosity in China Initiative. After elaborating on the concept of the faithful steward, Scott looks at the uniqueness of China today as relates to the growing need for biblical stewardship teaching. He then closes with an introduction to several new resources being made available in China in the coming months.
Strangers Corrie Lee and Keiko Suzuki have just graduated from university and moved to China to start their first jobs. Corrie believes that God has called her there, while Keiko is in it for the work experience. No matter the reason, life in China quickly becomes about more than just that. Through a friendship over email, Corrie and Keiko agonise, laugh, share, and commiserate over the big and small things in life.
- What does it mean to have a fulfilled and meaningful life?
- How can we be faithful to God, especially in difficult circumstances?
- How do we know whether a bad situation is our cross to bear or something to walk away from?
Because of the growing popularity of Christmas in China, this season provides individual Christians and churches numerous opportunities for outreach. In this article, originally posted on at Gospel Times, a pastor reminds believers of the need to make room in their hearts for Christ as they prepare for Christmas.
On January 1, 2017, China’s new Foreign NGO Management Law will go into effect, changing the landscape for foreign individuals and organizations working in China. At ChinaSource we are working hard to monitor the situation and track new developments. While there is still much that is unknown about the implementation of the law, some new documents have been released that begin to address this question.
It had been an engaging but exhausting two days. Pastors and ministry leaders from all across China had gathered with a smaller number of expatriate China workers to reflect together on some of the key trends in the mainland Chinese church. The meeting was conducted almost entirely in Chinese, and the range of topics addressed was dizzying, but also encouraging: indigenous mission and sending agencies, social engagement, theological education, Christian schooling, global partnership—in all these areas interest is high and progress encouraging.
Obtaining China’s New Unified Foreign Work Permit (November 25, 2016, China Briefing)
On November 1, 2016, China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) launched the new unified work permit in select regions across the country. The limited release targets the regions of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Shandong, Sichuan, and Ningxia, as the government seeks to gauge the program’s success before the nationwide rollout on April 1, 2017.
China was not exactly top of mind as my wife and I sat down to read a chapter of John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping. We hardly expected to find any profound insights into the thinking of Chinese Christians in a book written by an American pastor primarily for an American church audience.
One of the more popular praise and worship songs in the Chinese church is “Qing Qing Ting,” or “Listen Quietly.” Based on Psalm 23, the song reminds us to listen quietly to the voice of our Good Shepherd.
The good folks at the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University recently published the results of a survey they conducted among Chinese university students. If you are working with Chinese students in the United States, it is a must-read.
If you haven't bought Christmas cards yet this year, consider sending hand-cut cards from Yangqu County, China.
Why Grace Is Hard for Me as an Asian American (November 17, 2016, The Gospel Coalition)
A gift given means a gift must be repaid. That’s what my Chinese culture taught me. For my family, this meant mental tallies of who gave what on which occasion, so that when the time came the Yong family would be able to return a gift of equal or greater value. Welcome to the principle of reciprocation. But what does one do when a gift cannot be repaid? More specifically, what do Christians do when they’re in a position of eternal indebtedness, incapable of reciprocating God’s gift of grace in Christ?
Celebrating Thanksgiving with a food tale from Chengdu!
Many Christians in China today are seeking to be salt and light in their communities and in society. But what does that look like? In the translated article below, originally posted on the mainland site Christian Times, the author summarizes a talk given by a pastor in Henan Province on the topic of being salt and light.
Fifteen years ago, a Chinese writer who goes by the name of Huo Shui, wrote an article for the ChinaSource Quarterly called "Keys to Effectiveness in an Ever-Changing China." While China has continued to change, the things he talked about have stood the test of time. Or, as a friend of mine used to say, “things are the same, only more so.”
Saying goodbye to China and hello to a new culture and home—and doing it well.
Desperate Housewives See No Way Out of Rural-Urban Fringe Life (November 11, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Chen is by no means unique among rural-urban fringe communities. With no land and no opportunities, they are unable to make changes to their lives when problems arise. For Chen, the precariousness of her situation became apparent when depression set in; for others, the realization may be triggered by physical injury or sudden unemployment. Without the tools to address these issues, families on the fringe have a hard time recovering.
In this issue of The Lantern we drop in on a ChinaSource Connect evening that was held last month in Atlanta, Georgia. Our Connect evenings are an opportunity for friends of ChinaSource to get to know members of our team, share about the latest developments in China, and get an update on the work of ChinaSource.
If you haven’t already read the recent Chinese Church Voices post on the prosperity gospel in China, you need to. Here’s why.
Eunice Moe Brock was born in 1917 in Hebei Province; her parents were American missionaries. She later spent her early years in Liaocheng, Shandong Province. She left in the 1930s but returned to Liaocheng in the 1990s to the land that she loved. She lived in Liaocheng until she died in 2013. Shortly before she passed away, CCTV aired a story about her on the nightly news broadcast.
The public WeChat account called Window of Christ’s Grace (基督恩典之窗) recently posted about a story about the broadcast and how inspiring it was to see a story about a Christian on national television. The writer reflects on the importance of Christians living lives that bring honor to God.
So, what did Beijing look like the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series?
Yes, those are bold words, but if you are newly arrived in China, have been here for decades, or are just beginning preparations to head someday to China, you need to read Mabel Williamson’s Have We No Rights?
The Politics of Religion in China (November 4, 2016, The Diplomat)
The revivals of various religions, especially Christianity, show that the rapid social change has both generated the social needs and created the social space for religion. As long as social change continues in the current direction, that is, increasing urbanization, globalization, and migration, religions will continue to grow in the foreseeable future.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with David Joannes, president and founder of Within Reach Global and author of The Space between Memories.
As China has become more prosperous, it has also become more open to outside influences. This is true of the church as well. In recent years prosperity theology has been gaining influence, mainly through the translated books and resources of Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. In this article, originally published in the Gospel Times, the author (a pastor) reflects on why this teaching is attractive to many in China.
Harbin, situated in the heart of China’s northeast is the capital of Heilongjiang province. Once part of the Manchu homeland and later a Russian outpost, the city today is one of the major industrial and commercial centers of northeast China.
Earlier this week we posted a ChinaSource Conversations podcast in which I talked with Jackson Wu, author of Saving God’s Face and Sam Chan, author of Preaching as the Word of God about the issue of contextualization in gospel presentations. In the course of the conversation I asked them ten questions.
How the Education Consultancy Industry Fuels Essay Fraud (November 2, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Once again, as high school students across China agonize over their American college essays, allegations of fraud plague the education industry. Dipont Education Management Group, a large Shanghai-based educational consultancy, has become the most recent target of accusations, with reports circulating that staff turned a blind eye to high-level application fraud that included buying access to current admissions officers at U.S. colleges.
A look at the underlying "drivers" that are affecting ministry opportunities and personnel in China.
In this podcast ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman interviews Jackson Wu and Sam Chan. Their discussion examines the process of interpreting, communicating and applying the Bible in a particular cultural context. Effective contextualization communicates the gospel message in a way that is faithful to how God has revealed it through scripture but also in a way that hearers can understand in their own cultural setting.
An article from the Gospel Times in which a pastor reflects on what it means to be a pastor, particularly in a society that knows and understands little about the profession.
Since Xi Jinping came to power in late 2012, the slogan “Chinese Dream” has been one of the guiding principles of the Chinese Communist Party. The way the Party sees it, the essence of the Chinese dream is national rejuvenation, or making China great again, so to speak. The vast propaganda apparatus has been mobilized to convince people in China that their own personal dreams are inextricably linked to the broader dream of a rising China.
In order to be good stewards of the resources and opportunities given us to serve in this country, China workers are always on the lookout for insights into China’s current condition and how it might affect our prospects for ministry. In 2016 fall edition of The Washington Quarterly five eminent China hands contributed their perspectives on China’s future path.
Vatican and China in final push for elusive deal on bishops (October 21, 2016, Reuters)
Representatives from the Vatican and China are expected to meet before the end of the month in Rome in an effort to finalize a deal on the ordination of bishops on the mainland, a move aimed at ending a longstanding dispute, according to Catholic Church sources familiar with the negotiations. The Church sources also told Reuters that China is preparing to ordain at least two new bishops before the end of the year and these appointments would have the blessing of the Vatican. A person with ties to the leadership in Beijing confirmed that these ordinations would go ahead.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Stacey Bieler, co-editor of the Salt and Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China.
The mainland site China Christian Daily recently reported on the Mission China 2030 conference held in Jeju, Korea last month. It is part of a movement in the Chinese church to send 20,000 missionaries out from China by the year 2030.
Our friends at the International Outreach department of The Gospel Coalition (TGC) are offering a free resource to those serving in China—Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life, in simplified Chinese.
A reader responds to the 2016 autumn issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, "A Call to Partnership in Chinese Returnee Ministry" with encouragement and a reminder of God's love and grace.
Digital Divide: Does the Web Only Benefit China’s Urban Rich? (October 19, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Bai Yansong, a presenter at state broadcaster China Central Television, posed provocative questions to industry representatives at an e-commerce conference held last week in Sichuan province, southwestern China. “If the internet only makes big cities bigger and more convenient, has people rushing in and raising housing prices, while people in small towns just play video games, what is its value?” Bai asked.
ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman lived and worked in China for more than three decades. In this retrospective, she reflects on the significance of some of the changes she has seen in China during that time. These thoughts are drawn from a lengthier piece Joann wrote earlier.
In modern societies pluralism has the dual effect of both relativizing faith, forcing religious believers to acknowledge the presence of competing worldviews, and of fostering growth by creating new opportunities for them to live out their faith in the pluralist context.
If you’ve lived in China at all during the past 10 or so years you’ve probably encountered the phrases “I believe in me,” and “I just need to be myself” fairly often. In fact, at times these phrases seem to be the mantra of the Chinese millennial. The phrases are often thrown out as the solution to friends who don’t understand you, trials you’re facing, and personal struggles with historical issues in your past.
In this article, originally published in Jingjie, author Wang Ming Li examines the very public and famous journey of singer Annie Yi, who ultimately decided that the path to overcoming rejection by her father was to “just be myself.” But is this really a panacea for our life problems? How do we as Christians respond to significant family of origin wounds? Wang first examines Annie’s journey, then shares her own personal experience and reflections.
Since I lived in Beijing for the last 15 years of my time in China, it’s not often that I get nostalgic for Changchun, the city in northeast China that was my home for most of the 90s. Lately, however, I have found myself thinking of my time there and the experiences I had. I am, dare I say, homesick for Manchuria.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Dr. Charlie Brainer of Taylor University.
Discoveries May Rewrite History of China's Terra-Cotta Warriors (October 12, 2016, National Geographic)
In the four decades since mysterious terra-cotta statues first came to light in northern China, archaeologists have uncovered a whole lifelike army. But that wasn’t the only secret hidden underground there. Stunning revelations are now rewriting the history of the great ruler who created this army as part of his final resting place. And a radical new theory even suggests that foreign artists trained his craftsmen.
Seeking social change outside the realm of politics—Christians in China are providing examples of how that might be done.
Like many things in China, history remains firmly under the control of the Party. Only approved topics are allowed to be researched and only approved interpretations are allowed to be taught. The narrative is tightly controlled.
Very little is taught about the history of Christianity in China, and when it is touched on, it is done so in a negative light. Western missionaries have typically been portrayed as being part of the vanguard of imperialism. Less is known about some of the positive things early missionaries were engaged in.
In recent years, however, a small space has begun to open up for the exploration of Chinese church history, as many educated Christians seek to understand the historical roots of their faith.
Much has been written the past few weeks about the draft revision to the Regulations on Religious Affairs, the main policy document that spells out how religion is to be managed in China.
Education is a major issue for cross-cultural workers who serve overseas with their families. Most families choose to put their kids in an international school, a local school, or to homeschool full-time at home. All of these have their pros and cons.
How China got its name, and what Chinese call the country (October 5, 2016, South China Morning Post)
During periods when the Chinese nation was unified under one ruling house, the name of the dynasty was also the name of the nation, thus “the Great Tang”, “the Great Qing” and so on. The same principle applied when China was divided, with individual states, great or otherwise, bearing their own names. However, several names have been used to represent the idea of an integral geographic and cultural nation, the most famous one being Zhongguo (“the Middle Kingdom”).
Current presentations and discussions about China’s emerging cross-cultural mission movement often make reference to “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR), the Chinese government’s push to develop infrastructure and industry along China’s former silk route.
Many of the church structures in China were originally built by missionaries in the 1800s and early 1900s. Some are tucked away in old neighborhoods; others surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers or towering apartment blocks. All of them have interesting stories—like the story of Chongzhen Church of Wuchang.
Over the past decade of living in China, I have been privileged to hear a number of wonderful conversion stories. Each is special, but occasionally one stands out as particularly uncommon. The following is one such story.
October 1 is National Day in China; this year marks the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. While it used to be a day marked with military parades and revolutionary fervor, now it marks the beginning of a 7-day national holiday (“Golden Week”) designed to get people to spend money.
So, how much do you know about National Day and the history of the founding of the country?
Video: China’s Quest for Scientific Glory and Aliens (September 27, 2016, The Guardian)
China’s new radio telescope, the largest in the world—and the latest marker of Beijing’s ambition to become a global player in science—began its search for signals from distant galaxies on Sunday.
On September 8, 2016 China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) sent a draft amendment for religious affairs administration to the Legal Office of the State Council. The amendments were posted on-line through the State Council website, requesting public opinions on the draft before October 7 of this year.
The guest editor's point of view.
Helpful books, websites, and downloads.
China is changing dramatically and rapidly—economically, socially, and culturally. These changes have affected the church as well. This book looks at the “New China” and the factors that have brought about the changes; it also examines how the church has entered this new society. Especially for those working with young people, who need to understand their mindset, this book provides a concise overview of key issues and influences.
Large numbers of Chinese students who have studied abroad are returning to their homeland. For those who have come to know Christ while overseas, many easily become lost to the church and Christ upon their return. While there are a variety of reasons for this, churches and organizations both overseas and in China need to cooperate to prevent this. The author gives some concrete suggestions of how this can be done.
Committing to a church in China can be difficult for returnees. In this article the author gives some reasons why and then goes on to provide suggestions as to how churches overseas as well as churches in China can help returnees overcome these difficulties. Finally, he identifies attitudes that, if embraced by returnees, will help them to commit to a church once they are back in their homeland.
After following the 18-month journey of Xiao Mei as she studied in the UK, the author examines the importance of providing familiar cultural settings for Chinese students. Reducing the “cultural distance” allows students to experience Christ and become his disciples in a way that is not usually possible in an all English language and cultural setting.
Many returnees have difficulty getting involved in a church once they return to China. The author looks at how agencies, churches, and individuals working together can help returnees become part of a church body. She also explores the benefits of working together internationally and concludes with the importance of partnerships and reasons they can be difficult.
The conflicts and challenges facing returnees as they arrive back in their homeland can be enormous. Culture shock, family matters, work situations, and church issues all contrive to make it unlikely that Chinese Christians returning home will maintain a relationship with Christ if they try to go it alone. The importance of preparation for their return is evident.
Items requiring your intercession.
In a culture that values filial piety, how do Christian couples live out the Biblical teaching that “a man shall leave his father and his mother.” Does it simply refer to geographical leaving, or does it also encompass emotional and psychological leaving? It is a common and difficult question that many Christians face. In the following translated article, originally published on the public WeChat account of Green Olive Books, the authors put forth their understanding of what this means in a Chinese context, arguing that “leaving” is a prerequisite to a happy marriage.
In April of this year, President Xi Jinping gave a speech at a national conference on religion in which he outlined his vision for the role religion can and should play in Chinese society. As is often the case with speeches from top leaders, his themes were painted in broad strokes, with very little specifics. Those are typically revealed in subsequent regulations.
A look at Sanya, the Hawaii (and snowbird destination) of China.
Being Christian in China's Jerusalem (September 18, 2016, BBC)
Danny Vincent travels to Wenzhou to meet Pastor Zhang, an illegal pastor in one of the thousands of underground churches that serve the millions of Chinese Christians. However, he also meets a pastor from a government registered church who defends the crosses being taken down and how he says the real reasons that crosses are demolished is because they are illegally built and not because the Chinese government is so concerned about the meteoric rise in the faith.
In keeping with our mission, ChinaSource serves the global body of Christ with information on the issues facing China and its church. Our range of publications has grown significantly in recent years. Here we look at the thinking behind what goes into what we produce. If you’re not already familiar with our various publications I’d encourage you to take a look at our website and see what is available.
A wealth of scholarship on the history of Chinese Christianity has emanated from Asia during the past 50 years. Yet, although significant work on Christianity’s past is taking place in academic circles—including among mainland scholars—many Christians in China today are largely unaware of the rich history of the gospel in their own nation.
Last week we posted the first part of an interview with a rural pastor that was published on the mainland site Christian Times. The topic of the conversation was models for training in rural churches. This week we post the rest of the interview.
The website NGOs in China recently published a summary of a Q&A session between the European Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign NGO Management Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security. Seeking clarification on how the law will be implemented, the delegation from the European Chamber of Commerce posed 13 questions.
Some forty years ago in Saint Louis, a group of Baptist churches combined their cooking skills and gifts of hospitality to host a weekly lunch for international students studying at Washington University of Saint Louis. This week the first Tuesday Lunch for Internationals of the 2016-2017 academic year took place, continuing a ministry that has welcomed students and scholars from around the world, providing them with a hot meal, and in some cases with their first opportunity to sit down and talk with a Christian.
That was a stupid idea — until we thought of it: The cultural phenomenon of squatting toilets, split pants and giant hickeys (September 11, 2016, The Culture Blend)
Maybe, the most prominent recent example of “it was stupid until we thought of it” has been brought to us by 23 time gold medalist Michael Phelps (and numerous other Olympians who jumped on the cupping train). He taught us in Rio that gigantic hickeys aren’t always a bad thing.
David Joannes is a self-proclaimed “missionary,” trailblazer, and ragamuffin whose newly released memoir, The Space Between Memories, chronicles twenty years of pioneering work among the minorities of Southwest China.
An editor from Christian Times recently had an extended conversation with a rural pastor (born in the 1980s) about his thoughts regarding the current situation of China’s rural church. They talked about the problems and potential, particularly as they relate to the need for training. What follows is a translation of the article. Due to the length of the article, we will publish it in two parts. This is part one.
There are numerous models of cultural differences out there. The good folks at Global Mapping International (GMI) have put together a helpful infographic highlighting three primarily cultural orientations as depicted by the three primary colors.
First, let me confess that I am not an expert on China, nor have I lived in China. My exposure consists of supporting New Song’s in-country program director while working remotely from the US. Twice a year for 6-8 weeks at a time I travel to China for direct interface with those Chinese nationals who are trained and equipped to implement self-worth development curriculum. Through these committed community leaders New Song has impacted children and youth across China with what I believe is a culturally relevant and biblically based message of the intrinsic value of every individual. As a Westerner, my knowledge of China is shaped by this sliver of a window into Chinese culture and the church in China. It is more exposure than the average Westerner but not as much as some of you who read this blog.
Shariah With Chinese Characteristics: A Scholar Looks at the Muslim Hui (September 6, 2016, The New York Times)
Mr. Erie’s recently published book, “China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law,” is a look at how Shariah — Islamic law and ethics — is implemented among the Hui. In an interview he discussed his findings, which confound many preconceptions about Shariah, Chinese law and the rigidity of the Communist state.
Dissatisfied with the current educational system and wanting their children to be taught from a biblical worldview, Christian parents in China are exploring a variety of alternatives. In the latest episode of ChinaSource Conversations we explore these alternatives in Christian education with three educators who have firsthand experience with schools in China.
A young Chinese Christian faces the challenge of honoring the faith of her Christian grandmother at her funeral in a rural community in China.
This podcast features a discussion among three educators, one from China and two from the United States, about trends in Chinese Christian education. They look specifically at a private school model that features a holistic educational experience grounded in a Christian worldview. In this podcast Dr. Charlie Brainer of Taylor University also traces the development of private schools in China against the backdrop of competing national educational goals.
I just returned from a 5400-mile road trip from Minnesota to Newfoundland, Canada (and back).
It’s September and the autumn semester has started for most students, but before the leaves start to turn and the temperature plunges, we have one more summer reading book recommendation for you.
China: When the Cats Rule (August 26, 2016, New York Review of Books)
But it’s in Cat Country that Lao She stretches himself the furthest, producing one of the most remarkable, perplexing, and prophetic novels of modern China. On one level it is a work of science fiction—a visit to a country of cat-like people on Mars—that lampoons 1930s China. On a deeper level, the work predicts the terror and violence of the early Communist era and the chaos and brutality that led to Lao She’s death at the Lake of Great Peace. Cat Country is often called a dystopian novel, but when Lao She took his own life, it was an uncannily accurate portrait of the reality around him.
As China has urbanized the challenges facing the church increasingly mirror those in other urban societies.
In June China Christian Daily posted an article and photo gallery of 113-year-old church in Xingtai, Hebei Province. Originally built by Presbyterian missionaries from the US, it is now one of the main churches of the city.
In the 17th and 18th centuries there was a dispute between Jesuit and Dominican missionaries in China about whether or not Chinese converts should be allowed to continue practicing traditional rites and ceremonies that were rooted in Confucianism, such as ancestor worship. The Jesuits said they should be allowed; the Dominicans said no.
I love living in China and have immersed myself in Chinese culture. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go since I arrived here in 1991—many who approach China with negative attitudes and misconceptions.
I’d like to share my thoughts about how to enjoy this culture that God loves. Specifically, I want to note some wrong approaches to China that I hope will instruct us in a better way.
Cradle of Tofu (August 18, 2016, The World of Chinese)
With the possible exceptions of rice and dumplings, few foods seem as intrinsically tied to Chinese culture as tofu. But despite its widespread popularity throughout China and vegetarians everywhere, the origins of this food remain shrouded in mysteries of Chinese kings obsessed with finding an elixir for immortality.
The massive campaign against church crosses in China’s Zhejiang province is in the news again with the release this month of the US State Department’s 2015 Report on International Religious Freedom.
The Gospel Times recently published an article written by a pastor in Xiamen on what he considers to be some of the key challenges facing the church in China today. Here is a translation of the article.
I once had a discussion with my Chinese professor about the influences of Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism) in the worldview of Chinese people. “You have to understand,” he told me, “that we are Confucian when things are going well, when we have position and authority, and when life is hard for us and we are ‘down and out,’ we are Daoists.”
In the sphere of international film, Jia Zhangke, is a key player that’s putting China on the map. As a part of the “Sixth Generation” of film directors in China, this group has left behind the epic tales of mythical history and instead, focuses their efforts on capturing the raw realities of today’s China. For Jia, this means that films are more than just ways to tell stories. He carefully uses his craft as a vehicle to commentate on contemporary Chinese society.
Why China’s Cities Must Maintain Ties With the Countryside (August 16, 2016, Sixth Tone)
Urbanization normally refers to the movement of rural populations toward a city. But Shanghai and other Chinese cities serve as evidence that urbanization is often much more complicated. In essence, it’s about change of lifestyle. The divide between rural and urban is more obvious in China than it is in any Western country.
I recently received the weekly prayer list from our church. Each week we pray for a different nation of the world. This particular week we were to pray for China.
If you haven’t yet sampled our regular podcast, ChinaSource Conversations, I’d like to invite you to take a moment to listen. Each episode features engaging discussions with guests who are involved in a particular aspect of China service or who are writing about pertinent issues affecting China and its church. I’ve personally enjoyed sitting down with several of these colleagues and hearing their insights on the things they’re passionate about. We’ve captured these conversations so you can get a taste of what’s happening in the parts of China where they serve.
The story of Li Yan, a Chinese Christian speed-skating coach.
It’s been a long time since I have watched the Olympic Games on American broadcast TV, and not CCTV5, the Chinese sports channel, and there are several things that I miss. I miss the 24-hour coverage of events and watching them in their entirety, not just highlight reels. I miss watching ping-pong and badminton. And I miss getting to know the Chinese athletes.
“She doesn't know me anymore,” my friend Xiao Min remarked offhandedly one day, as though this fact didn't bother her. As the weeks went on, I would slowly discover that this statement reflected a very deep pain in Xiao Min's heart. The first time she brought it up, though, I was surprised she would treat the matter so coolly. After all, she was talking about her own daughter.
Why Won’t China Stop Moaning About the Rio Olympics? (August 9, 2015, Sixth Tone)
There were only two ways of concealing this embarrassment. The first was to admit that China had overemphasized the importance of the Olympics — that what we had treasured was just average in everyone else’s eyes. Obviously, we couldn’t do this: we would look foolish. The other was to moan about everyone else, making them the fools instead. Hosting the Olympics is an honor: we treated them with respect, and so should you.
Throughout history as various attempts have been made to introduce the gospel to China, a series of “perennial questions” have arisen regarding the relationship between the Christian faith and Chinese culture.
In August, First Things published an article penned by the Chinese Christian intellectual Yu Jie titled “China’s Christian Future.”
Here’s a question for you: what was the capital of China when Jesus was born? If you said Luoyang, in Henan province, then you are correct! It was the capital of the Han Dynasty, which lasted from 206 BC to AD 220.
It was June 2000. I was on my first trip to China. In fact, it was my first time to leave the United States. My team and I spent six weeks meeting students, sharing the gospel, and helping in other ways.
The unprecedented aging crisis that’s about to hit China (August 1, 2016, PBS Newshour)
China has the largest Baby Boom generation in the world. But now just years away from a mass retirement, that country is headed toward a severe workforce crisis and retirement cost cash crunch. Due to the country’s one-child policy from 1978 until 2015, the younger generation poised to take over is relatively small. What’s the solution?
The gospel is advancing in the workplaces of China. Learn more in the August episode of ChinaSource Conversations.
This podcast looks at faith in the workplace through the lens of a new study on Christian marketplace leaders in China. Tyler and Mark, the principal researchers, discuss their own experiences in working with Chinese Christian CEOs and reflect on lessons learned from their recent study. Tyler is originally from the United States, where he worked in finance before moving to Hong Kong with his family. Mark is from China, where he serves as a pastor to Christian business leaders.
The following is a translation of an excerpt of a sermon preached by Wang Yi, pastor of Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu. In this sermon, he proposes the Ten Commandments as a model to pray for China. For each commandment he highlights some relevant statistics about Chinese society. The sermon, titled “How to Pray for China” was originally posted on Pastor Wang Yi’s WeChat public account.
It’s become an almost tiring cliché to say that China is changing. In the last century alone, the changes have been staggering.
Come visit me at the “Waffle House” of northwest China!
In Search of a Place to Die (July 21, 2016, Sixth Tone)
According to Li, the Chinese fear death so much that they’d prefer to run away from it rather than have to think about it at all. In the case of palliative care, cultural taboos related to death also play a significant role. Take, for example, the quintessentially Chinese concept of filial piety: Children who want to be seen to “do the right thing” for their ailing parents will reject palliative care and insist on more aggressive treatment, trying to preserve life at all costs.
Having read Wang Jun’s article “The Preeminence of Love in Chinese Families” in the most recent ChinaSource Quarterly (18.2), “Christian Ethics and Family Living in China,” I would like to respond with a few thoughts that I trust will be helpful, and that might open further dialogue on this important topic.
According to news reports, more than 200 people have died in flooding and landslides across China this summer, mostly along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. The Gospel Times recently reported on how the flooding has impacted Christians in communities in Hubei Province. This is a translated excerpt of that article.
Article 11 of the new Foreign NGO Management Law that is due to go into effect on January 1, 2017, will require foreign NGOs operating in China to “obtain consent of a professional supervisory unit.” The list of the approved supervisory units has yet to be released.
A reader responds to the 2016 summer issue of ChinaSource Quarterly—"A Theology of Family for the Chinese Church."
Why China is probably never getting Pokemon Go (July 18, 2016, Tech in Asia)
Pokemon Go, although it’s not available in China, is already making people nervous. A popular Weibo conspiracy theory goes that the entire game is a US-Japanese plot to GPS map China and determine the locations of Chinese military bases to facilitate quick strikes if a war ever breaks out. That’s ludicrous, of course, but Chinese authorities probably are concerned about the game, although no one has yet said as much publicly.
Police actions against several house churches in Guangdong province in recent weeks again point up the fragile state of China’s vast unregistered Christian community.
Young Christian families in China face pressure both from long-held traditional beliefs about family structure and from China’s contemporary materialistic society. As most of these Christians are first-generation believers, they have no frame of reference for understanding the biblical basis for family life. ChinaSource seeks to bring to light the issues facing these families so that those who come alongside Christians in China may better understand their needs.
Last week we posted part 1 of a proposal to resolve the status of house churches in China. In part 2, Professor Liu gets more specific as to how a house church documentation system could be set up and what would be gained by doing so.
In his book, China Airborne, James Fallows takes a look at modern China through the lens of the country’s growing aviation industry. He writes in the introduction about what he calls “the many countries of China,” (p. 6) explaining the diversity and complexity of a country that we tend to (wrongly) view as a monolith.
Spring had come to Chengdu City, so a Chinese friend and I decided to go into the countryside to enjoy the flowers. After a lovely stroll among the canola flowers and a delicious lunch, we went to visit a nearby church where we know the folks. Their church, has an interesting story, somewhat in contrast with the stories that often reach the news about the church in China.
China's Christian Future (August 2016, First Things)
When I became a Christian, I learned to recognize myself as a sinner. In doing so, I developed a sensitivity to sin that helps me recognize evil and injustice when I see them. As I point out the tyranny of the Communist regime, I reflect on and judge myself. This interior work of repentance for my own sins has transformed my fight against totalitarianism. No longer am I merely pointing out faults in the world. I also recognize them in myself.
The latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly takes an in-depth look at the pressures facing young Christian families in urban China.
In March, the WeChat Public account called 《宗教法治》(Religious Law) published a proposal by Professor Liu Peng, head of the Pushi Institute for Social Sciences on steps the government can take to solve the problem of house churches in China. We have translated the post and are presenting it in two parts. In this first part Professor Liu spells out why solving the problem is important and what he considers the foundation of a solution.
Due to the historical influences on family structure and ethics, many new Christians have no background for a Christian marriage and family. Sound doctrine and the ability to utilize the gospel to transform familial ethics are critical needs in China. In addition, due to a lack of accurate understanding of the doctrine of the church, there is a scarcity of guidance on managing the family as well as its relationship to the church. Li Jin presents the doctrine of the Trinity as a foundation for a Christian family.
This uplifting book relates the story of Chen Zhi-Niang, an ordinary woman who raised six, world-prominent Chinese preachers. While her life was not an easy one, she learned to trust and obey Christ and experienced his leading in her life and in the lives of her sons.
Two online resources highlighting Christian testimonies about marriage and family issues.
From the guest editors' point of view
Items that require your intercession.
Historical influences on family structure and how this structure has collapsed in recent decades are reviewed. The author then recognizes that family order has been established by God and must be restored. This is essential for China’s transformation. The role the Chinese church should play in this restoration needs to be thought through.
The author begins by explaining “love” as historically defined by Mohism and Confucianism, that is, universal love versus love based on blood kinship. He delves into the differences between these two kinds of love, especially as they relate to family structure and authority as well as to extended family relationships. He then turns to Christian love, its relationship to these two ideologies and how it can influence the culture.
The stresses and conflicts found within Chinese families are increasing with urbanization that often forces families to live apart. After discussing some of the major pressures that families face in today’s China, the author delineates some of the principles needed for building a good family foundation.
Over recent generations, marriage expectations have changed. For young Christians in China, marriages are taking on new ethical norms that include challenges. Parental pressures in finding a spouse as well as in planning a wedding can create much tension. After marriage, child-bearing and rearing continue to generate challenges between the young couple and their parents. The one-child policy has exacerbated these difficulties. Christian couples are swimming against many secular tides in these areas.
There was a big birthday celebration in China earlier this month. July 1 marked the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
Traditionally, film festival pieces are known to push boundaries and be more artistically daring than your average blockbuster affair. But the space in which director Qiu Jiongjiong plays with his film Chi (癡) is one that even has the artistic community a bit stunned. The film, which has been alternately named Mr. Zhang Believes, has been described as a hybrid documentary—one that blends theatrical fiction and autobiography. Existing in relatively uncharted territory, hybrids bravely blur the lines of categorical boundaries.
China’s tyranny of characters (July 5, 2016, The Economist)
Linguistically, China wants to be like America—a country where language and script are unified. In reality it is like medieval Europe—a continent full of different languages, nominally united by a written lingua franca. Before the 20th century, regional Chinese literati could communicate on paper in classical Chinese, but barely in conversation, just as European scholars communicated in Latin.
In a recent Christianity Today article on the wave of laws hitting foreign NGOs globally, Morgan Lee refers specifically to China when she writes, “Nearly 20 percent of the world’s population could lose access to the ministry efforts of Western Christians next year.”
The mainland site Gospel Times recently reported on the discovery of a stone monument commemorating the life of a Swedish missionary named Anna Karlsson.
Last week the World Economic Forum posted a short video titled “Where are the Largest Chinese Populations Outside of China?” Spoiler: Indonesia tops the list.
My first glimpse into the world of domestic abuse China-side came in 2005.
China’s Great Wall of Confrontation (June 28, 2016, Wall Street Journal)
Although the Great Wall has become China’s pre-eminent national symbol of pride and strength, the construction of its soaring watchtowers and crenelated parapets actually reflected a moment of dynastic weakness.
If you’re with a non-profit organization that has activities in China, the new law applies to you, regardless of whether you are actually located in China.
The testimony of a victim of domestic abuse and her journey to healing.
You may have heard that Chongqing is China’s largest city by population (approximately 30 million), but as is the case with many things in China, “nothing is as it seems.”
As urban churches in China face significant changes in the 21st century, will they effectively engage their own culture and reach out with the gospel cross-culturally?
A better class of teacher (June 21, 2016, China Daily)
Twenty years ago, many English-speaking expats in China applied for teaching jobs because work was easy to come by. Routine inspection of qualifications was almost nonexistent and all most people needed were their mother tongue and an engaging character. The old criteria no longer apply. China is now demanding better-qualified, more-competent English teachers, and by the end of the month the nation's top regulator of expat employment is expected to further raise the bar by implementing a tough application policy.
As we enter the summer season with time for pause and reflection, we are thankful for a fruitful year so far. God has been graciously guiding the ministry to new opportunities as well as progress in the work he has put before us.
Does the Christian church require a sympathetic national government to thrive?
In March China introduced its first-ever comprehensive domestic violence law. While celebrated as an important step toward the protection of women and children (and, occasionally men experiencing abuse) the law also raises a number of questions within the Christian community. Here lawyer and Christ-follower Cheng Pangzhi wrestles through these issues, ultimately offering hope for reconciliation of families and a call to make use of the new law in order to protect victims of violence.
A few years back I was talking with a Chinese scholar friend of mine about Islam in China. In what has to be one of the clearest examples of pragmatic religiosity I’ve encountered, he told me, “Islam has no future here because Han Chinese will never give up eating pork.”
Gift giving is tricky in any culture—even our own.
Video: Sichuan Cuisine, Imperiled by Success (June 14, 2016, The New York Times)
“Sichuanese cuisine really faces a crisis,” said Wang Kaifa, a 71-year-old chef who has been leading a campaign against what he sees as the creeping debasement of the region’s celebrated cooking. “The scene feels like it’s booming, but this is a chaotic boom that has had a lot of negatives,” he said, drawing out his vowels and emphasizing high notes in the region’s lilting accent. “Finally, they could become a sickness that brings down Sichuanese cuisine.”
The traditional roles of foreign Christians in China are changing.
If you find yourself worshiping at a church in China, chances are you may sing this song, titled “The Precious Cross."
In what has to be one of the most fascinating lenses through which to observe history and societal change, this short film chronicles recent Chinese history by looking at the different things Chinese people have lined up for over the years.
"Faithful love in action" as Chinese adult children care for their aging parents.
Harmony And Martyrdom Among China’s Hui Muslims (June 6, 2016, The New Yorker)
The history of the Hui in Yunnan is one of seasons of prosperity punctuated by violence. The province wasn’t part of China until the thirteenth century, when Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar al-Bukhari, a Central Asian Muslim who served the imperial court, brought it into the fold.
What books should be on your China bookshelf?
ChinaSource Senior Vice President Joann Pittman invites two friends, colleagues, and voracious readers—Andrew Kaiser, author of Voices from the Past: Historical Reflections on Christian Missions in China, and Amy Young, author of Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service—to join her in a discussion of why it is important to read books about China and which books they find to be most helpful.
If you want to find out what is really going on—I mean really going on—in China, ask a taxi driver. Since they spend all day conversing with people from all walks of life, getting various takes and perspectives on the issues of the day, few people have a better feel for the mood.
Thirty years—a generation’s worth of time—after the policy was first implemented is where Beijing-based director, Liu Hao, begins the conversation. As also the writer of the feature film, Liu builds an engaging story around this timely social issue, allowing viewers to get personal with what’s really happening in China.
Keith & Kristyn Getty Inspired by 1931 Missionary to China Song for New Album (May 26, 2016, The Christian Post)
The upcoming album by The Getty’s was inspired by the hymn, "Facing a Task Unfinished." The original song was written by China Inland Mission worker (now OMF International) Frank Houghton in 1931 as he reflected on the Great Commission and the scripture Matthew 24:14, which encouraged him to dedicate his life to sharing the Gospel with people in China.
Religious persecution or illegal land grab? Understanding the struggles faced by the people of China, including Chinese Christians.
Churches in China are increasingly looking for ways to use the internet to evangelize and encourage believers. This article, originally published in the mainland site Gospel Times is about a church in Liaoning province that posts daily video devotionals online to one of China’s largest video-sharing sites.
On May 21 ChinaSource President Brent Fulton spoke at Emmanuel English Church in Hong Kong. Drawing from his book China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden, Fulton talked about how the kingdom of God has spread in China, despite difficult circumstances.
A train trip from Lhasa to Chengdu.
Here's why Chicago's Chinatown is booming, even as others across the U.S. fade (May 13, 2016, Chicago Tribune)
Local leaders say it has avoided gentrification because Chinese-Americans value a sense of belonging and choose to stay in the neighborhood. Few Chinese move out, and if they do, they sell their homes back to the Chinese.
What are the real challenges facing the church in China today?
In the part one of this article Si Wei shared her journey from darkness to a personal relationship with Christ. Here she goes on to tell about the next stage of her journey—sanctification. Not surprisingly, God chose to use the furnace of marriage to expose Si Wei’s unhealthy mindset and areas of idolatry, which she shares with us in this conclusion to her story.
Here’s a question for you: how do you lip-read when everyone is wearing an anti-pollution facemask? One hearing-impaired woman from Great Britain found out while doing an internship in Beijing. She told her story to the BBC in "Toxic Talk: Trying to Lip Read in China."
Common sense would tell us that what stands at the core of Christianity is its theology, polity, and mission. But when we come to Christianity in China, it is Chinese Christianity’s social impact and its implications for issues such as human rights and China’s international relations, rather than its pastoral and theological developments and challenges, that have received disproportionately large attention in the Western press in the recent decades.
Top 5 Best VPN for China **May 2016 Update** – Ultimate Guide (May 2, 2016, Start Up Living China)
VPNs can help you get around internet censorship — but not all VPNs work well in China. Our Best VPN for China Ultimate Guide is constantly updated from here in China to let you know what works and what doesn’t.
A look back at four years of "listening in on the conversation" with Chinese Church Voices.
A look at possible responses to the new NGO law.
The story of a young woman who in the midst of artistic success realizes the emptiness of her life. This is part one of a two-part story which will continue next week.
I’ve only been to Dalian once, and that was way back in 1992. I was studying Chinese in Changchun at the time, and a classmate and I decided to head to Dalian for a weekend getaway at the only western hotel in the city, a Holiday Inn. Western food! CNN! It was great.
Nearly 10 years ago, at the age of 15, Wendy (Su Ying) joined our family here at Shepherd's Field Children's Village from her home orphanage in Fuzhou. Wendy was born with paraplegia, which left her unable to walk or actively move her body from the waist down. Regardless of her physical limitations, Wendy proved to be a smart, active, innovative, and confident young woman who truly has a heart for others.
China’s Twilight Years (June 2016, The Atlantic)
Not so long ago, conventional wisdom in China held that the country’s economy would soon overtake America’s in size, achieving a GDP perhaps double or triple that of the U.S. later this century. As demographic reality sets in, however, some Chinese experts now say that the country’s economic output may never match that of the U.S.
What resources are available for the church in China on financial management and stewardship?
On May 5, the mainland news site China Christian Daily reported on the death of Pastor Li Tian’en, one of China’s most famous house church leaders.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, a political campaign launched by Chairman Mao. The purpose was supposedly to give a new generation the experience of revolution; however, it was actually an outcome of a power struggle between Mao and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
Are you looking to start a business to fulfill a mission or to bless a community? The latest ChinaSource Conversations podcast, “Businesses that Bless,” seeks to answer that and other questions related to doing business in China.
China Reveals What It Wants to Do with Christianity (April 28, 2016, Christianity Today)
According to Xi, uniting all believers under CPC leadership is necessary to preserve internal harmony while warding off hostile foreign forces that may use religion to destabilize the regime. Xi’s insistence is not new, nor is it simply a function of China’s Communist rule. Since imperial times, state power has been seen as ultimate. It is, and has always been, the prerogative of the Chinese state to define orthodox belief and to set the boundaries for religious groups whose doctrines fall outside official limits.
The Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations' Activities within Mainland China was passed on April 28, 2016 and will take effect January 1, 2017.
A "letter" to migrant workers in China.
Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource talks to Gary Hopwood, chief global officer for David C. Cook, and Nora Hughes, the founder of Business4Blessing about doing business in China to bless the people and the community. They distinguish the business-as-blessing concept from other ways of viewing using business to bring the gospel to a community, including characteristics of a business that blesses a community and how to get started in this kind of business.
We hardly even notice them anymore, and when we do, we probably either roll our eyes or chuckle. I’m referring to the ubiquitous “Made in China” labels that adorn our consumer goods. Televisions, underwear, souvenirs, computers—you name it, it’s probably made in China!
Ladder to Paradise (2015)
Directed by Xiao Han and Liang Junjian
Reviewed by Hannah Lau.
A warning for parched China: a city runs out of water (April 25, 2016, Marketplace)
Yang Shufang wakes up at 5 o'clock each morning and fetches water. "I bring a few buckets, enough for drinking or cooking," she says. Yang doesn’t live in the remote countryside, and her water isn’t from a village well. She lives on the seventh floor of a luxury condominium complex in Lintao, a Chinese city with nearly 200,000 people that’s run out of water.
At a long-awaited national conference on religion, held in Beijing April 22-23, CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping outlined his vision for “helping religions adapt to the socialist society” under the direction of the Party. Here are a few prominent themes from Xi’s speech.
The following is a translation of an excerpt from a wedding sermon preached by Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu. In it, he exhorts the couple to remember that they are not entering into this marriage alone, that God is going before them and with them.
Earlier this month a spokesman for China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) announced that the NPC Standing Committee is scheduled to review the draft law governing foreign NGOs operating in China.
A look at a Chinese, indigenous sending agency and the work they are doing to send workers out to reach the nations.
New Visa Policies Bring China and US Closer (April 20, 2016, AmCham China)
What's more, reforms to Chinese immigration policies have now also made it easier for new foreign graduates and highly-skilled talent to work in China without interruption. The new regulations include 12 policies in Shanghai effective July 1, 2015 and 20 policies in Beijing effective March 1, 2016.
Voices from the Past: Historical Reflections on Christian Missions in China by Andrew T. Kaiser.
Reviewed by Brent Fulton
We are delighted to announce a new training initiative—ChinaSource Institute!
In March China Christian Daily published an interview with a pastor from Dalian about the importance of properly managing church finances in Chinese churches. He highlights some of the difficulties that churches in China have in this area and some suggestions for improvement.
There were a couple of adoption stories out of China in the past few weeks that caught my eye. The first was an article in Christianity Today about the drop in global adoptions, as reported by the US State Department in their Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions.
Video: A Portrait of Youth and Camaraderie in China (April 5, 2016, The Atlantic)
Xiong Di, this short film by Enric Ribes and Oriol Martínez, is also the Chinese word for “fellas.” It’s a beautiful ode to friendship among young factory workers in China, with themes of love and fresh-faced ambition.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Dr. Brent Fulton, author of China's Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden and president of ChinaSource.
If you’ve been to China you have probably noticed that it is a society of walls. There are walls around schools, factories, and housing estates. Sometimes the entities within these walls are huge, covering many city blocks. In an attempt to alleviate congestion and open up more through ways through the cities, the Chinese government in February issued a new regulation calling for walled communities to open up their roads and streets to through passage. In other words, they want the walls to come down. In this article, originally published in the mainland online journal Territory, the writer uses this new regulation as a starting point for a discussion of the walls that we build in our hearts and how only through the cross can we tear them down.
One of my favorite China books is The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History, by Joanna Waley-Cohen. In it she chronicles China’s historical interactions with the outside world, arguing that China has never been as isolationist as historians have suggested. What the West often perceived as isolationist policies or attitudes were instead China’s insistence that authority must never be surrendered to outsiders.
Last week we interviewed Kerry Schottelkorb, Director of Advancement for Christian Action Asia, about his organizations work with disabled orphans in China. Here is the story of one of the orphans they have cared for.
Inside A Chinese Self-Help Group (April 1, 2016, Roads and Kingdoms)
I found my self-help group through an Uber driver. In China, the car service’s drivers are often part-timers who have other occupations—hotel managers, entrepreneurs, housewives—each with his or her own reason for driving, but with the common desire of “going out and learning.”
The China Partnership website recently carried the story of an urban pastor who planted 16 churches in a major Chinese city. The article profiles the transformation in this pastor’s thinking concerning the nature and purpose of the church.
Over the years, many stories have come out of China about believers who, having no access to the printed Word, painstakingly write out the Scriptures by hand. The 21st century has put a new spin on that practice—copying out the Bible by hand not because of its unavailability but in order to break an addiction to online games! This story, from the Gospel Times, tells of a man in China who has decided to write out by hand a chapter per day.
My first visit to Wuhan was in January of 1984. I was travelling with a group of 17 teachers on a boat trip down the Yangtze River from Chongqing to Wuhan. We disembarked in Wuhan three days before Spring Festival, and set out to acquire 17 train tickets to Guangzhou. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
Today we are launching our first-ever online training course titled "Serving Well in China" for people working in China or preparing to work in China.
The Swept Tomb vs. The Empty Tomb: A Collision of Holidays in China (March 30, 2016, The Gospel Coalition)
Each spring almost one-fifth of the world’s population observes a tomb-oriented holiday that isn’t Easter. Yet despite the mass observance of this festival, most Christians in the West are unfamiliar with it. The holiday is China’s Qingming Jie (pronounced along the lines of “ching ming jieh,” henceforth QMJ). As a Westerner who pastors in China, I’d like to tell you what it is and why you should care.
Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource, talks with Joann Pittman, senior vice president of ChinaSource, and Amy Young, author of Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service about five essential keys for adjusting well to the cultural challanges of China. They also introduce ChinaSource Institute and its first on-line course "China: Serving Well Where You Don't Belong," taught by Joann and Amy.
In many ways our worldview can be thought of as our operating system—the way in which we process and organize information and make sense of the world. For westerners, our worldview is built on legal frameworks such as guilt and innocence; however, most non-western cultures process the world based on honor and shame.
Earlier this month, the mainland publication Church China published a long article examining the importance of solid theological preparation for Chinese involved in the Great Commission. Last week we translated portions of the article. In part two, we continue with the translated portions, followed by short summaries and observations by the translator (in italics).
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Kerry Schottelkorb, Director of Advancement for Christian Action Asia (CAA).
On Thursday night my landlady called and asked if she could come over to see me because she had some translation questions for me. Anyone who's been in China for a while knows the fear and dread that well up inside at the sound of someone asking for help with translation work. "Just read it over. It won't take long." Those words always precede hours of painful and laborious mental gymnastics trying to translate phrases, like the one in the title of this post, from what we call "Chinglish" to English.
The Long March From China To The Ivies (April/May 2016, The Economist)
It is one of China’s curious contradictions that, even as the government tries to eradicate foreign influences from the country’s universities, the flood of Chinese students leaving for the West continues to rise. Over the past decade, the number of Mainland Chinese students enrolled in American colleges and universities has nearly quintupled, from 62,523 in 2005 to 304,040 last year, according to the Institute of International Education.
In the new occasional journal Missions and Vocations, Rev. Ronald Yu, President of China Ministries International, traces his journey from pastor to missional entrepreneur.
Earlier this month, the mainland publication Church China published a long article examining the importance of solid theological preparation for Chinese involved in the Great Commission. What follows in this post, and next week’s post are translated portions of the article, along with short summaries and observations (in italics) by the translator.
Has China reached the Lewis Turning Point? What does that mean for migrant workers in China?
“Fresh off the boat,” an old phrase referring to new arrivals, described me well in 1983 as I began my new life as an overseas worker in Hong Kong. Being quite naïve about Chinese culture, I was excited to hear from my colleagues that I would receive a beautiful silk jacket from our Chinese co-workers as they had in years past. And during Chinese festivals I would receive other special gifts and be invited to delicious banquets—it all sounded wonderful to me!
A short documentary: The end of the Chinese miracle (March 9, 2016, Financial Times)
China's economic miracle is under threat from a slowing economy and a dwindling labour force. The FT investigates how the world's most populous country has reached a critical new chapter in its history. Jamil Anderlini narrates.
This course is less about a set of answers and more about presenting a framework with which to process the complexities of China. When you encounter confusing situations or cultural differences, what you learn here will help you reconcile them with your cultural background and expectations.
Easter Sunday (“Resurrection Day” in Chinese) is a highpoint for Christians in China, as it is for followers of Christ the world over. Not only do Chinese believers celebrate the resurrection of Christ; they also celebrate the new life experienced in Christ by those who have come to faith within the past year. Easter Sunday baptisms are an important part of church life. In some larger churches hundreds of new Christians may celebrate their spiritual rebirth through baptism on a single day.
A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with Dr. Gary Hoag, ECFA International Liaison, and Dr. Sas Conradie of Global Generosity Network on the relationship between transparency and generosity.
Pastors in China share how they are encouraging their people to prepare for Easter.
One of my favorite China books is Peter Hessler’s Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory. Shortly after the book was published in 2010, a CNN travel reporter interviewed Hessler about the book. There was one particular exchange that caught my attention.
Ministry partnerships are complex and challenging. Throw in the cross-cultural dimension and one is certain to encounter some form of conflict. As Westerners, our first reaction is to confront and resolve. Unfortunately, our swift and direct action may leave our Chinese colleagues reeling from the confrontation and feeling hurt.
The business of censorship: Documents show how Weibo filters sensitive news in China (March 3, 2016, Committee to Protect Journalists)
A set of documents provided to CPJ by a former employee in Weibo's censorship department however, sheds light on how the site must tread a fine line between appeasing government censors and encouraging users to keep posting to its site.
The latest issue of China Source Quarterly shines a spotlight on a people often overlooked in China—those with disablities.
In January Rev. Gu Yuese, pastor of Chongyi Church in Hangzhou, one of China’s largest churches, was removed by the Chinese Christian Council, the governing body of the Chinese Protestant Church. Often referred to as China’s first mega-church, the sanctuary seats more than 5000 people, and each Sunday sees around 10,000 people in attendance at the worship services.
Two resources for those seeking to serve those with disabilities.
As a part of his Social Role Valorization theory, Wolfensberger describes 18 wounds that devalued people face. These might also be referred to as the “social consequences of disability.”
Items that require your intercession.
The author provides us with some statistics regarding disabled people in China and then looks at what the government and various organizations are doing to serve this segment of the population. She provides brief overviews of their situations in the areas of accessibility issues, laws, rehabilitation, education, employment and the church.
Families affected by disability have a number of common emotions and experiences regardless of ethnicity or geographical location. The author looks at common concerns, struggles, and hopes that parents face when their child is diagnosed with a disability and specifically, with autism. He also alerts us to some of the programs, helps, and therapies available to deal with these concerns.
Some things just don’t translate well from Chinese into English. Take, for example the annual government meetings that are taking place in Beijing this week. In Chinese the meetings are referred to as Liang Hui (两会), which literally means “two meetings” (sometimes also translated as “sessions”). Using such a term in English to describe a conference, however, leads only to blank stares.
As a young woman, Joni was severely injured in a diving accident that physically changed her life. While she has required the use of a wheelchair since then, the dramatic part of her story is her spiritual transformation.
Without a complete understanding of what disability is, human services may not adequately address personal and social environmental issues—they may even exacerbate them. Some factors regarding disability can be attributed to discrimination in the social environment. In his discussion of human services delivery, the author focuses on faith communities, pointing out at least seven benefits they provide.
Within Chinese culture, people with disabilities have been stigmatized and devalued. This is the result of beliefs which create stereotypes leading to prejudice and discrimination. With a desire to reduce this stigma, scholars are examining Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism to uncover any hidden cultural prejudice and stereotypes causing these attitudes. This is a complex endeavor that requires much sensitivity to cultural nuances. However, the goal is for people to come together in honest dialog and humble sensitivity, unified in purpose and compassion to combat prejudice and discrimination.
As she defines disability, Ms. Venzke explains the difference between “disability” and “impairment” and discusses the usage of these words. She introduces two models frequently used in understanding disability and relates these to both the individual and society. She continues by examining how society views those with an impairment pointing out both positive and negative factors.
The guest editor's perspective.
As I have reflected on effective methods for reaching Chinese with the gospel, it seems that one theme keeps recurring: the need for patience. Without patience, coupled with perseverance, we are not likely to have a lasting impact on our Chinese friends or upon their society.
Death and Despair in China's Rustbelt (March 1, 2016, Bloomberg)
This is the city of Tonghua in China’s rustbelt, where a desperate handful of steelworkers has gathered each week outside the management office of their mill in freezing temperatures to demand months of wages they say they’re owed. The answer, according to interviews with workers and residents, is always the same: there is no money.
Advances in theological education over the past 35 years have gone a long way toward satisfying the church’s still urgent need for trained leaders. It is increasingly common, especially in China’s cities, to find pastors who have received formal graduate-level theological training, including many who have studied overseas. But is that enough?
What would lead an 18-year-old boy from a top class to stab his teacher and show no remorse? In this interview transcript, originally published on the mainland blog Territory, host Wenjun speaks with Jiang Peirong, a Taiwanese psychologist and Christian, about what might have led to this shocking event.
I have been to Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, twice and have three distinct memories.
I have been reflecting recently on Brent Fulton’s challenge to rethink partnership between Western and Chinese churches. I have had an interest in the church in China for the past twenty years and have traveled there frequently for a variety of reasons—including work with several Chinese churches. My PhD thesis focused on historical efforts to reach the Chinese intelligentsia for the Christian faith. China has always been near the top of the list of places where exciting things are happening and where I, as a pastor of missions, would like to see our church make a contribution.
The Golden Generation: Why China’s super-rich send their children abroad (February 22, 2016, The New Yorker)
The children of wealthy Chinese are known as fuerdai, which means “rich second generation.” In a culture where poverty and thrift were long the norm, their extravagances have become notorious.
According to The Economist, China is "among the cheapest and easiest places to get a divorce." What are the factors behind China's increasing divorce rate?
Brother Xu Guoyong, co-founder of Oak Tree Press in Beijing, was killed in an accident while attending a conference in the United States in January. In this excerpt from his writings he reflected on the life of his first daughter, Leyi, who died tragically during the time he and his wife were imprisoned for their faith.
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a summit of local (Minnesota) Chinese-student-ministry leaders to discuss ways to help new Chinese believers prepare for returning to China.
Theological training for Chinese believers is needed; several types of training are available. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of training?
Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus (February 11, 2016, Foreign Policy)
One day in early September, as frigid weather moved into Madison, a group of students approached Cai in her dormitory hallway to ask her opinion about God. She realized that she had never thought about it before. Out of simple curiosity, she began to attend a Bible study group. And so her spiritual journey began; four years after coming to Wisconsin, Cai was baptized and then tied the knot with an American in a Madison church
Last month ChinaSource co-sponsored The Intellectual and Ethical Foundations of the Flourishing Society, a conference hosted by Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Why are many Chinese believers who go overseas for seminary training not returning to China to serve?.
Brother Xu Guoyong, co-founder of Oak Tree Press in Beijing, was tragically killed in an accident while attending a conference in the United States in January. In this excerpt from his writings he reflects on the times he spent imprisoned for his faith.
When it comes to China reporting, two of my favorite writers are Peter Hessler and Evan Osnos, both of whom write for The New Yorker. They recently took part in a forum hosted by Asia Society to examine four decades of reporting on China by the magazine. Editor David Remnick moderated the event, and joining the conversation were three other New Yorker writers, Orville Schell, Zha Jianying, and Jiayang Fan.
What are the biggest challenges the church in China faces today?
China Says Its Students, Even Those Abroad, Need More ‘Patriotic Education’ (February 10, 2016, The New York Times)
Chinese students, already immersed in classes and textbooks that promote nationalist loyalty to the Communist Party as a bedrock value, must be made even more patriotic and devoted to the party, even when they are studying in universities abroad, according to a new directive sent to education officials.
A long-time worker in China shares what it is like to return "home."
A Christian's story just before the Two-Child Policy goes into effect.
Four Chinese characters to spark meaningful conversations during the Chinese New Year.
Many people outside of China see the church in China primarily as a persecuted church and as a church with many needs. The reality of the situation for the Chinese church—especially with the emergence of the urban house church—is much more complex.
This month’s ChinaSource Conversations podcast—in just 30 minutes—will give you a head start on better understanding the church in China today as Brent, Joann Pittman, senior vice president of ChinaSource, and Mark Swallow, host of ChinaSource Conversations, discuss the key points in his book.
Light government touch lets China’s Hui practice Islam in the open (February 1, 2016, The New York Times)
Throughout Ningxia and the adjacent Gansu Province, new filigreed mosques soar over even the smallest villages, adolescent boys and girls spend their days studying the Quran at religious schools, and muezzin summon the faithful via loudspeakers — a marked contrast to mosques in Xinjiang, where the local authorities often forbid amplified calls to prayer.
At Home in This World . . . a China Adoption Story by Jean Macleod.
Reviewed by Mark Wickersham
Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource, Joann Pittman, senior vice president of ChinaSource, and Mark Swallow, host of ChinaSource Conversations, discuss the urban church in China and Brent’s new book, China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden.
While officials in Zhejiang province are busy demolishing church buildings they deem to have been illegally built and removing crosses from the tops of churches, in Guangdong province a congregation has built itself a new church building in the shape of a violin!
A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with Dr. G. Wright Doyle, director of Global China Center, editor of Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity, and co-editor of Studies in Chinese Christianity, published by Wipf and Stock.
I was riding on the subway in Wuhan one afternoon, standing in the middle of a very crowded car. A frail senior gentleman was sitting in a seat near me. When we came to the next stop, a senior woman, who was standing by the door, started shouting at him to hurry and get off the train. He stood up and those of us around him helped him get to the doorway as quickly as possible, but by the time he got there, the door started to close. The woman was already on the platform, but he was still standing in the car. When the doors closed, the glass platform door closed on his arm, and the car door closed on his head.
China’s Search for the Secrets of Jewish Success (January 25, 2016, Tablet)
In their quest to understand Jews better, popular Chinese authors and bloggers offer up facts and myths about everything from the Talmud to anti-Semitism.
How can churches outside China that seek to make a meaningful contribution to the church in China continue to serve effectively? Here are some initial suggestions.
Recently the mainland-based The Good and Faithful Steward blog published a short post about what it means to be a disciple, reminding readers that being a disciple is more than just taking on the name of Christ (“Christian”), but actually following Christ.
On December 31, Christianity Today published a piece titled “Made in China: The Next Mass Missionary Movement.” This article provides an excellent introduction to the topic and some of the related issues.
To help provide context and background, we thought now would be a good time to highlight some of the resources that ChinaSource has published on the topic over the years. We hope these will be helpful to those wanting to learn more.
Since rising to power three years ago, President Xi Jinping has frequently been called the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. Such comments often refer to the way Xi has consolidated power by bringing the various Communist Party organs firmly under his control and to how he has eliminated possible opposition through a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign and emphasis on rule by law.
Video: His Factory Job Gone, a Chinese Migrant Worker Returns Home (January 19, 2016, The New York Times)
Liu Lang, a Chinese migrant worker, left his rural hometown in Sichuan Province two decades ago to work in the factories of the southern province of Guangdong, China’s manufacturing powerhouse. Now, he is moving back. “I worked my way up from a basic worker to a department head. And my career basically ended today,” Mr. Liu said on the train leaving Guangdong.
In years past I have marveled at the large numbers of people who flow through China’s churches every year at Christmas. I know of one urban church that hosts over 10,000 visitors during its six Christmas services. Each year I see the church building bursting at its seams, bodies crammed along every aisle and stairway. Each year I watch as the area around the church is closed to traffic and swarmed by young people eager to catch a glimpse or hear a word of Christmas—compelled by a sense that Christmas must in some ways must be connected to the church.
It has been well over a year since ChinaSource launched the Faith and Generosity in China Initiative. We are beginning to see a multi-organizational effort emerge that is aimed at equipping this generation of Chinese Christians to embrace their role as stewards in God’s kingdom.
In September, over 900 church leaders from mainland China attended a large Chinese church missions conference in Hong Kong. At the conference, they announced the launch of an initiative to send 20,000 missionaries from China. A month later churches all across China began to put legs to this initiative with a 1·1·1 Missions Campaign. One large house church in Beijing launched this campaign by handing out “globe banks.” Those in attendance were asked to donate money to missions by putting coins into the globe each day. We have translated the accompanying brochure.
As I walked through the center of town on Christmas Eve, I was forced every few steps to maneuver around yet another vendor trying to sell me something. In years past the pushcarts had been covered with Santa hats and light-up electronic wands. This year, however, it was all about apples—enormous apples branded with fortuitous (or sexy) images and packaged in Christmas-y cardboard boxes.
Over the Christmas holiday I saw three very different large gatherings, each of which demonstrates a prominent trend in contemporary China. Taken together, these three crowds say something profound about the direction that China and her church are headed.
What Is Disappearing from Hong Kong (January 7, 2016, China File)
The recent disappearance of publisher Lee Po—allegedly kidnapped from Hong Kong and rendered to Mainland China—has prompted widespread alarm about the state of Hong Kong’s autonomy, both within the city and internationally.
Preparing to go overseas or getting ready to return to your passport country? This book is for you.
What were the stories that generated the most buzz among Christians in China in 2015? The editors at Christian Times have identified the top Christian news stories in China for the past year. The following translation of the original article has been posted to China Christian Daily. It’s a good reminder of the discrepancy between what many in the West think must be “top of mind” for Christians in China and what actually is.
The number of Chinese students studying in the US has increased drastically in recent years. Where are they all studying?
Three Names of Me by Mary Cummings.
Reviewed by Mark Wickersham.
Video: Drinking the Northwest Wind (December 30, 2016, China File)
Lovell and Wang’s focus is on the direct human costs of the transfer—who has won, and who has lost. On the winning end are residents of Beijing’s ever-sprawling suburbs, hoping for reliable showers and clean water to cook with. On the short end of the stick are the people who live in the areas giving up their water, who, without choosing to have had to leave their homes, find new work, leave behind the comforts of community and family, and fathom how their lives fit into the grand and ambitious plans their leaders have devised to solve a nation’s problems.
In the final segment of the “Walking with Leaders” series on ChinaSource Conversations, our monthly podcast, we looked at the spiritual formation of leaders. One of our guests was John, an expat and trained coach whose14 years of service in Asia have included facilitating retreats and leading people through creative spiritual exercises.
Here John shares his thoughts on spiritual formation among Christian leaders in China.
In 2015, we had 52 posts to Chinese Church Voices; articles written by Chinese Christians translated into English, as well as videos—all providing a window into the issues that are top of mind among believers in China. Here are the most-read posts of 2015.
In the fourth and final podcast in the “Walking with Leaders” series, we want to focus on the topic of spiritual formation—the big picture and landscape of ones journey to becoming more like Jesus. If coaching is about drawing out and mentoring is about pouring in, spiritual formation is the big picture of our relationship with God.
It’s that time of year again in the blogosphere—the time to highlight the most popular posts/articles from the past year. Combining stats from our various original content publications (ChinaSource Quarterly, From the West Courtyard, and Chinese Church Voices), here is a list of what you were particularly interested in reading in 2015.
Standing at the threshold of a new year, the perennial question comes to mind, “Whither China?” Since prognostications about China’s future more often than not prove to be off the mark—sometimes by a very wide margin—trying to anticipate with certainty what may happen in 2016 is somewhat of a fool’s errand.