China, Where the Pressure to Marry Is Strong, and the Advice Flows Online (June 18, 2017, The New York Times)
Although women in their 20s are greatly outnumbered by men in the same age group in China, a product in part of the since-abandoned one-child family policy and a cultural preference for sons, they face enormous pressure to marry. Those who do not have a husband by the age of 27 are routinely branded as “leftover women,” with diminishing value in the dating market.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Field research findings with Chinese missionaries and with prospective Chinese medical missionaries highlight issues related to the needs of the Chinese missionary’s nuclear family. Although mission-sending organizations can help, much of the impetus for resolving difficulties faced by the Chinese missionary’s spouse and children must come from the Chinese missionaries themselves.
May was a busy month for the ChinaSource team, as several of us were involved in conferences in Asia and elsewhere. Here are some snapshots of how we witnessed the Lord working in the midst of these events.
Reflecting on the deaths of two Chinese missionaries to Pakistan.
News of two Chinese Christians killed in Pakistan last week by ISIS shocked many Chinese Christians. On Chinese social media channels, bloggers have offered their prayers for the two martyrs and have tried to piece together exactly what happened. Lots of confusion surrounded the events. Details are still forthcoming.
Pastor Cui shares how his church has dealt with a growing congregation and the need for room by adopting a “big church, small congregations” model. He explains this concept and details the benefits this model has brought to the church, the pastors, and the congregations.
China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden by Brent Fulton
Reviewed by Li Jin
Due to urbanization and social change, China’s churches look different today than they did a number of years ago. Urban churches, with unusual diversity, now comprise a major part of Chinese Christianity. Fulton identifies many of the changes the church has experienced that now characterize it and discusses challenges it faces in current society.
Items requiring your intercession.
The guest editors' point of view . . .
As China becomes increasingly urbanized, an urban theology for ministry is needed. As modern man finds himself slowly enmeshed in urban living, he experiences materialism, relativism, and an increasingly segmented society. He questions what is real and true, and who God is. These questions can become points of contact for urban ministry. Dr. Ma provides some guidelines for forming an urban theology for ministry in urban China.
A look at the affects of affluence on American society with a view to better understanding what is happening in China today.
After having been the only child for many years, my parents finally brought home a tiny bundle—my very own baby sibling. While many would celebrate the arrival of another member to the family, that special day was instead laced with disappointment for my father. I found out much later that my mother went into labor before my father got to the hospital. When he finally arrived, he took a look at the baby, uttered in dismay, “Another girl,” and walked off.
An interview by Dr. Mary Ma with the minister of a migrant worker’s urban church which identifies a number of issues characteristic of urban churches comprised of migrant workers from rural areas. These concerns include living conditions, economic status, long work hours, mobility, and other factors that all contribute to the church’s spiritual health and stability.
After defining “new media” and what it encompasses, An looks at the various ways the church in China views it, what it means for the church, and how it can affect the church. He then gives some thoughts on how the church should deal with it—not only the challenges it brings, but how it can be used positively.
The author sees two major categories of urban churches in China that are experiencing transformation and goes on to discuss three main areas where he sees this transformation taking place. Viewing these changes as positive, he also believes they are growing stronger.
Father’s Day in China, like many other countries, falls on the third Sunday in June. It is not an official holiday in China, nor is it widely observed, especially in comparison to other similar holidays such as Mother’s Day and Children’s Day. Yet, for those working among Chinese (in any context) it does provide a unique opportunity to generate gospel-oriented discussion given the central theme of God the Father in the Bible.
Pakistan says slain Chinese misused business visas, were missionaries (June 13, 2017, CNN)
The man, 24, and woman, 26, killed were among a group of Chinese citizens who obtained a business visa from the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, the ministry statement said. Instead of doing business, it is alleged the pair went to the Pakistani city of Quetta and under the guise of learning Urdu from a Korean, they "engaged in preaching," the Pakistani statement said.
Reading Kathleen Lodwick’s How Christianity Came to China (Fortress Press 2016) was disturbing for two reasons.
Last week millions of Chinese high school students took the annual two-day college entrance exam know as, the gaokao. For these students and their families, much of their young lives have led up to this moment. Many of their future hopes and dreams also ride on their exam scores.
While stress ran high, Chen Fengsheng, a Three-Self pastor in Wenzhou, offered this prayer for the gaokao season.
Last week Brent wrote about a Christian serving among China’s Muslims who joined in the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. Given the fact that we are now at the halfway point of the month of fasting, I thought it would be a good time to highlight some recent articles and resources about Islam in China.
The film Beijing Taxi, directed by Miao Wang, a Beijing native who immigrated to the US in 1990, begins two years before the Olympics and follows the lives of three taxi drivers. Each of them shares their own perspective on Beijing’s transformation, China’s rise, and most importantly, what it all means to them. Is China hosting the Olympics really all the glitz and glory that it was dreamed to be? What price economic growth and development?
Chinese City With a Russian Past Struggles to Preserve Its Legacy (June 4, 2017, The New York Times)
The making of Harbin is like no other Chinese city. In 1898, Russian engineers and workers from both Russia and China came to build the Chinese Eastern Railway. They were soon followed by Russian Jews fleeing pogroms, and then aristocrats driven out by the Bolshevik Revolution and White Russian troops seeking refuge after defeat in civil war.
Last year, in order to better understand those whom he has been called to serve, Pastor Mark, a Chinese Christian, joined in the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. He learned some unexpected lessons.
One of the growing challenges for the contemporary church in China is the swelling tide of secularism. Several Chinese Christians shared this concern with us in conversations at the Reformation 500 and the Gospel conference in Hong Kong last month. China’s increasing affluence provides society with opportunities, but also ever-morphing ideals. New and shifting norms for marriage, worklife and careers, parenting, and education confront Christians in subtle ways that more visible challenges (e.g. arrests, lack of resources, funding, etc.) have not.
In this blog post, originally posted by Oak Tree Publishing, Wei Chen shares the personal sacrifices she and her family have made in the face of secular values. She describes the troubling expectations of society on her and her family, and how her Christian faith pushed her to say “No!” to following along with the secular norms.
Our friends at The Gospel Coalition recently asked me to review Ian Johnson’s book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. Last week, it was published under the title "China’s God-Shaped Vacuum."
For those who live near university campuses, opportunities to reach out to Chinese students and researchers with the gospel are well within reach and don’t require a visa or plane ticket. Churches wanting to minister among Chinese often need look no further than the closest college campus. The challenge often isn’t lack of opportunity but rather a lack of understanding that effective ministry is possible for any believer in Christ who wants to serve Chinese students studying overseas.
China in Our Midst: Reaching Chinese International Students in America by Glen Osborn and Daniel Su of China Outreach Ministries (COM) will help anyone who wants to get involved in serving and reaching Chinese students but is uncertain about how to do it or wonders if they are qualified.
While the rest of the world tries to “kill email,” in China, it’s always been dead (May 28, 2017, Quartz)
In many parts of the world, email remains deathless—a relic of the desktop-era internet, before mobile and social media were on the landscape. It’s a convention: You can’t not have an email address. In China however, email never reached the ubiquity it has in other countries. Most Chinese consumers, if they have an email address, seldom use it. Chat, instead, remains the preferred method of communication–between friends, families, colleagues, business partners, and even strangers.
What are people saying about China's new Overseas NGO Law?
Last week we posted the second part of an article from ChurchChina about the impact of Reformed theology on evangelism in “Y Church.” Part one discussed the current situation of Y Church. The second part described in more detail how the research findings describe the impact of Reformed theology on Y Church’s evangelism. The third part gives recommendations for Y Church’s evangelism. This is part three.
This week ChinaSource is launching a China ministries cohort at Missio Nexus. It will be a place where those serving in China-related ministries can gather to discuss issues relevant to our work. Come join us!
We caught up with our friend Jackson Wu at the Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong and asked him to share his reflections on the conference.
What I Learned From Two Years Traveling China's Belt And Road (May 22, 2017, Forbes)
The markets of Europe and Asia are being drawn more closely together via an array of enhanced land and sea trade routes that are part of a multinational, multi-faceted development that has been vaguely dubbed the New Silk Road.
In response to the uncertainties resulting from China's new Overseas NGO Law, we've created the ChinaSource Law and Policy Monitor. Here we introduce this new service and explain how organizations can sample the Monitor while helping ChinaSource in its efforts to understand how the law is impacting those who serve.
At the Reformation500 Conference in Hong Kong, we have had the opportunity to chat with believers from around the country about various topics. One of the questions we have been asking is this: What are the key challenges facing believers in China today?
Last week we posted the first part of an article from ChurchChina about the impact of Reformed theology on evangelism in “Y Church.” Part one discussed the current situation of Y Church. The second part describes in more detail how the research findings reveal the impact of Reformed theology on Y Church’s evangelism. The third part will give recommendations for Y Church’s evangelism efforts. This is part two.
Singing together with 3000 believers—The Church's One Foundation!
An update on successful registrations under the new Overseas NGO Law and an invitation to join us at the Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong.
The Chinese church is vibrant and has growing passion to participate in missionary sending through undertakings like the Back to Jerusalem (BTJ) movement and the Indigenous Mission Movement from China (IMM China). Chinese Christians feel God calling them to long-term mission service. The principal factor encouraging them to long-term sustainable service is calling.
How Chinese Couples Became Wedded to the Perfect Picture (May 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Known in Chinese as hunsha zhao, which literally translates as “bridal dress photographs,” this style of wedding photography in China generally does not take place at the wedding itself, where there is usually a cheaper run-of-the-mill photographer arranged by the venue or the wedding planner. In the case of Qian and Pan, the real wedding photos were taken a whole six months before the ceremony.
Understanding Chinese missionary perspectives on calling enables a clearer view of the foundations of the Chinese missionary undertaking. The Chinese missionary call is deeply rooted in a personal relationship with God. Despite personal loss or suffering, Chinese missionaries experience a joy that is centered in knowing Christ.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Werner Mischke, author of The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World and coordinator for “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry,” to be held June 19-21 in Wheaton, Illinois.
A growing movement of churches attracted to the Reformed faith is gaining steam in China. Although still comparatively small in number, these churches and several of their prominent leaders are gaining influence among Christians across China. This article, originally published in the journal ChurchChina, provides hard data on how Reformed theology has impacted the evangelistic efforts and gospel understanding of one church in Anhui province. This case study seeks to answer the question: How has Reformed theology impacted the spread of the gospel in “Y” Church?
Recently China Internet Watch produced a white paper on the Chinese Internet, titled “China Internet Statistics 2017.” The information and charts are based on the semi-annual report published in December 2016 by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
Mothers are celebrated on many different days around the world. In every month of the year, except January and September, Mother’s Day—or Mothering Sunday in the UK—is celebrated in some country somewhere in the world. In many countries, including China, mothers are celebrated on the second Sunday of May.
Sing the national anthem, says China - but only at this speed (May 9, 2017, Sky News)
China has already banned its national anthem from being belted out at weddings and funerals – but now, even more restrictions are on the way. A law is being prepared to set the tempo at which the ballad should be played and sung, with consequences for those who put the anthem in a "damaging situation".
How do we respond to the trends impacting foreign Christians in China? What questions do we need to ask?
Last week we posted the first part of an article from Territory about the Baoti Cornerstone Choir. The first part of the article interviewed the choir’s director, Huang Bo about his conversion to Christianity and subsequent call to start a gospel choir in Xiamen. This week in part two we see how Huang has led members of the team to grow both in their performance skills and in their faith.
I have been to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region twice. The first time was in 1992; a teammate and I took the train. Back then it was a journey that took two days and three nights; today the fastest train makes the journey in 30 hours. On my second visit to Urumqi (in 2004) I also travelled by train, but from the southern Xinjiang city of Kashgar. That was a 24-hour run along the edge of the Taklimakan Desert.
The film, Stonehead, is set in a small village in China where children, the "left-behind children," are raised by their grandparents because their parents have all moved to urban cities for better jobs. The story centers around three main characters who, even though it’s never clearly stated, each represent a different way left-behind children cope with their family situations. But the film also speaks more widely about the coping mechanisms used by people thoughout Chinese society today.
Green Train Blues (April 30, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Gubeikou is just 140 kilometers northeast of Beijing, but we’ve been on the road since 9 in the morning. That’s an average speed of 25 kilometers an hour, one-fourteenth the speed of the Chinese rail system’s showpiece high-speed rail. Dubbed “green-skin trains” (绿皮火车) for their iconic forest green livery and yellow trim, trains like 4471 are, unsurprisingly, living on borrowed time in a country for which rail infrastructure has long been a matter of national pride.
The final article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
An interview with Huang Bo and members of the Baoti Cornerstone Choir.
Going to China this summer? Here are tips for preparing well for your trip.
Read Frog with care, pray for those seeking Truth in a troubled, chaotic culture, and celebrate Mo Yan’s genius.
Ten Questions That EVERY Expat (or Repat) Parent Should Ask About Their Kids (April 20, 2017, The Culture Blend)
I love what my kids are getting out of this experience. I love what is being built into them. I love who they are becoming . . . but I’m not an idiot. This is hard. It’s hard for us and it’s hard for them. So as a parent I want to be in touch with the realities — the specific realities, good and bad — of who my kids are and what they are going through.
The sixth article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
Many hospitals in Chinese cities, particularly along the coasts or along the Yangtze River, were originally founded by western missionaries. After the missionaries left in the 1950s the hospitals were nationalized and, in many cases, became the leading hospitals in the community. They serve as important and interesting legacies of the work of the missionaries. Recently the Gospel Times published an article about one such hospital in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, founded more than 100 years ago by Methodist Episcopal missionaries.
According to Dictionary.com, a Sinophile is “a person who admires or has a strong liking for China, the Chinese, or their culture.” After 25+ years in China, I guess I qualify; and I’m guessing that readers of this blog do as well.
In addition to my own experiences of living in China, books have played a major part in helping me understand China.
For a missionary, raising support is no easy task. When we were preparing for our first term of service, I wasn’t sure how we were ever going to raise the required budget. But for Chinese missionaries, the task is even harder. Coming from a culture that is not accustomed to supporting missionaries, obtaining financial backing is an uphill struggle.
American students lose interest in China studies (April 15, 2017, Nikkei Asian Review)
Though China looms ever larger in U.S. economic and security concerns, American universities are experiencing a decline in the enrollment in Chinese language courses and study abroad programs. The growing sense that work opportunities in China are harder to come by is compounding worries about pollution and other living conditions.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending. A study performed with long-term Chinese missionaries reveals four main current sources of support for Chinese mission activity. Common methods of missionary fund-raising are examined and frequently encountered fund-raising difficulties are reviewed. The Chinese church has difficulty financially supporting mission service and at the current time alternative strategies for Chinese missionary funding are still needed.
The fifth article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
In the current policy environment, it’s no longer “business as usual” for faith-based organizations serving in China. Legal changes call into question the viability of some ministries. Others are finding ways within the new laws to continue serving. ChinaSource is watching the situation closely as we provide counsel to organizations dealing with these changes.
Earlier this month we posted the first part of an article from Territory about a Chinese missionary’s call to Nepal. The first part of the article discussed the author’s struggles amid social pressures in China. As the Chinese church increasingly looks outside of China’s borders to engage in ministry this article provides insight into what factored into one Chinese missionary’s call to foreign missions. This week in part two we see how his struggles influenced his call to ministry, as well as the lessons he learned about foreign missions and about himself while in Nepal.
A painless way to learn about the early history of Christianity in China—listen to The China History Podcast!
It has been 308 days since we left China and landed in the good ol’ USA. You would think that would be plenty of time to have made the transition back to our home state of Indiana, but we’re still definitely in transition mode.
Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu (April 11, 2017, NPR)
This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. That worries lab director Guan Yi. But what disturbs him more is how fast this strain is evolving. "We're trying our best, but we still can't control this virus," says Guan. "It's too late for us to eradicate it."
The fourth article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
A response to "Have We Failed Returnee Christians?"
Anyone who has spent time teaching English in China will no doubt be familiar with English Corners. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are a staple of life for teachers of English.
Daxing Bootcamp, located in the suburbs of Beijing, is probably a place you've never heard of. But growing numbers of parents in China who are at wits’ end have heard of it or of the 400 rehabilitation camps like it. The government has set up the centers to treat teenagers with internet addiction disorder. Web Junkie takes us inside Daxing Bootcamp and introduces us to three of the young men who are treated there.
Finding My Roots Deep in Rural China (March 31, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Although I was born in China, I have been molded by the United States. The country gave me the chance to think and feel like an American. Here, I was taught to be curious; I learned that asking questions is often more fulfilling than knowing all the answers. Here, I fell in and out of love for the first time. And here, I became a person with two identies. Yes, I was “Americanized,” but I was also very attached to my Chinese roots.
The third article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
What is it like for Chinese Christians to engage in cross-cultural missions outside of China? An increasing number of Chinese Christians have the opportunity to serve short-term abroad. Their experiences abroad offer valuable lessons for future indigenous mission efforts by the Chinese church. In this interview, translated from Territory, the author testifies to God's hand in the "twists and turns" of his life. His testimony gives a look into the heart and mind of a Chinese Christian and the spiritual renewal and transformation he undergoes while living, serving, and sharing the gospel abroad. This is part one.
In the 2017 spring edition of the ChinaSource Quarterly, published last month, we highlighted survey results of Christian workers in China (local and foreign). The research project was carried out by the China Gospel Research Alliance, made up of representatives from OMF, Frontier Ventures, Open Doors, and ChinaSource. The CGRA partnered with Global Mapping International (GMI) to produce this handy infographic portraying the key findings in the survey.
The growth of the Chinese church over the past several decades cannot be overstated. What the Lord has accomplished is truly beyond anything we could have ever asked or imagined.
Young, Restless, and Reformed in China (March 27, 2017, The Gospel Coalition)
Chinese church leaders are writing books of church order. They’re organizing into networks. They’re starting Christian grade schools and seminaries. They’re reading everything they can get their hands on, buying out Reformed authors at bookstores and heading to Reformed websites. And some are also stumbling, passing quick judgment on those who aren’t five-pointers. Some are proud. A number are splitting up congregations. In many ways, Reformed theology in China looks like a newborn colt attempting that first walk—eager, stumbling, up and down and up again.
The second article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
Do Chinese parents and pastors need to rethink how they raise their youth in the faith? In this article, originally posted on at Gospel Times, a pastor encourages believers to challenge traditional views of ministry to youth. The pastor sketches modern challenges to youth ministry and then offers practical recommendations for ministry workers.
One of the striking things about the coastal city of Qingdao is the surviving European feel of much of the older sections of town. Qingdao was a German colony from 1898 to 1914, and unlike most other cities that had once been under colonial rule, the old European zone was not razed.
Shortly after we moved back to the States after living in Asia for many years, a Chinese researcher from a major university in China approached us asking if he could spend his last month in the US living with us. It wasn’t that his lease had expired or his stipend was running low. Rather, he realized that although he had lived in the American Midwest for a year doing research at a well-respected American university—he had experienced very little of American life and had very few non-Chinese friends.
Alienation 101 (April/May, 2017, 1843 Magazine)
The Chinese population is so large that it forms a separate world. Many Chinese speak only Mandarin, study only with other Chinese, attend only Chinese-organised events – and show off luxury cars in Chinese-only auto clubs. The Chinese government and Christian groups may vie for their hearts and minds. But few others show much interest, and most Chinese students end up floating in a bubble disconnected from the very educational realms they had hoped to inhabit. “It takes a lot of courage to go out of your comfort zone,” Sophie says. “And a lot of students on both sides never even try.”
A new series from Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
For the past two years ChinaSource has been part of a research initiative aimed at better understanding how Chinese believers view their current situation and their relationship to the global church. We are pleased to present some of the findings in the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly.
Chinese Christians have traditionally expected their pastors to live frugally and to receive little to no compensation for their pastoral duties. It was expected that those in the ministry would endure much suffering as a result of their call to ministry. As a result, some pastors and ministry staff live on quite meager means and many are bi-vocational in order to make ends meet.
As China modernizes, many congregations, particularly urban churches, recognize a need to better financially care for their pastors, as well as to invest in the well-being of the congregation as a whole. Congregations are starting to see the health of a church improve when the entire body is spiritually and financially committed to compensating their ministry staff. So, how much should a pastor in China make?
A sneak peek at longtime China journalist Ian Johnson soon-to-be-released new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. A must-read for those who want to deepen their understanding of Chinese culture and religious life.
Is persecution in China increasing? Two house church leaders, one who was imprisoned in a labor camp for a few years, and the other who is a Chinese scholar with strengths in theological education and the history of the Chinese church, give their viewpoints on this topic.
A recent survey of Christian leaders in China and representatives of churches and organizations outside China that work with these leaders provides insight into the health of China’s churches and their ministry priorities. It also looks at their involvement in society and mission outreach. In addition, participants were surveyed regarding restrictions they had experienced due to religious policy.
China’s elderly population is burgeoning and the question becomes, “Who will care for them?” Families are finding this difficult, and neither the government nor society are currently prepared to provide the resources needed to address this. However, China’s Christian community has several advantages that would allow them to meet this need. Urban Christians could care for the elderly in their midst and also offer a service to the larger community which would enhance the church’s standing in society.
The editor's perspective . . .
China’s churches desire partnerships with overseas entities. However, as the church has become increasingly urban, the nature of those partnerships must change in response to the changes occurring in society and thus, in the church. Overseas organizations must understand these changes and consider carefully how they can best partner with the church in China.
A conversation between two friends, one an overseas Chinese woman and the other from mainland China who has studied overseas, centers around the cultural gap between believers in China and those who come from overseas to help them. Mistaken perceptions, communication issues, and the importance of relationships are discussed.
A review of Christ in China: An Anthology by Ronald Boyd-MacMillan
In appreciation of Tony and Frances Lambert’s 34 years of faithful service, OMF-Hong Kong has published an anthology of forty-six of Tony’s monthly analyses of the story of Christianity in China. Written between the years 1987 to 2016, these articles cover aspects of the greatest revival story of the world church of the past 50 years, as well as selections that give unique slants on the contemporary story.
An infographic for understanding the needs and perspectives of the 1,200 Chinese church leaders voiced in the 2016 survey of the China Gospel Research Alliance.
Items requiring your intercession.
When I first went overseas, I thought things like medical insurance and retirement planning weren’t too important. Further, as funding for those two items added to the overall budget and that budget needed to be raised through supporters I personally contacted, I felt that these items were excessive. It seemed to me at the time that these items only delayed my matriculation to the field and added to the church’s financial burden in sending me and my family. I reasoned that God would take care of us anyway. Twenty years later, with retirement age nearing, (which won’t necessarily cause me to retire), I am grateful for the foresight of organizational leadership. And with my family members needing multiple previously unforeseen surgeries, I am grateful for the care we have received.
Living loud in China's lively public spaces (March 11, 2017, BBC)
This country that I love is many things, but quiet is not one of them. There are plenty of bustling cities - rammed with millions of people - where you could be frowned upon for disrupting others with a raised voice: Seoul, London, Tokyo… especially Tokyo. China does not have those cities.
Financial issues significantly impact Chinese missionary-sending sustainability. For those Chinese physicians with mission field experience, greater degrees of field experience correlate with a greater ascribed degree of importance placed on these financial issues. Currently prospective Chinese medical missionary financial expectations are high. These expectations do not necessarily match with the lived reality of Chinese non-medical missionaries. Financial support models which can facilitate sending of Chinese missionary physicians need development.
News that nearly three dozen foreign NGOs had successfully registered under the new Overseas NGO Law sounded an optimistic note for organizations working in China. Yet, as a recent article in The Diplomat points out, this apparent gain for the overseas NGO community masks the greater realities facing foreign groups as they weigh their options under the new law.
Can Christians join the Communist Party? Should Christians join the Communist Party? These questions were posted online recently by a Chinese Christian on Zhihu, China’s version of Quora (a question and answer website). The questions sparked chatter among the online Christian community and also prompted a response from the official social media account of the Communist Youth League of China.
On March 5, Premier Li Keqiang delivered the 2016 government work report at the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing. As government work reports go, it follows a very strict script: listing of all the glorious accomplishments of the past year and then setting forth all the glorious things that the government will accomplish this year. And of course it has all happened under the glorious leadership of the Communist Party with Chairman Xi Jinping as the core.
The Choice—A short and straightforward read with one profound insight at its core. . .
The Rasping on the Radio (March 2, 2017, The World of Chinese)
That’s right: once you’ve ridden with the radio-fanatic taxi driver enough, you may start to recognize certain voices. One in particular is an older-sounding man whose sandpapery tones seem to come from the depths of his acerbic, somewhat excitable soul. This is Shan Tianfang (单田芳), one of China’s pre-eminent artists in an ancient performing arts genre called pingshu (评书), which literally means “commenting on the book” but is usually referred to as “oral storytelling.”
Four ways a lawyer can help register your overseas NGO in China.
Last week we posted the first part of an article about returnee Christians who fall away from the church that was originally published on the blog The Gift of the Magi. The article discusses how Chinese living abroad come to Christianity but struggle to remain in the church after they return to China. Part one focused more on the overseas church, while part two looks closely at the church in mainland China. This week we post part two of the article with Chinese readers’ comments from the original blog.
Developments in China over the past two decades have created the conditions for unprecedented collaboration between Chinese Christians and those from outside the country. With increased collaboration, however, has come more opportunities for miscommunication and missteps as Chinese and foreign believers attempt to work together. This spring in ChinaSource Quarterly we will take an in-depth look at the state of this collaboration, drawing upon newly available research on Christian leaders in China and those from outside China who serve with them.
“Earthquake in China” Whenever these words are heard, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the devastation in Sichuan province that took place in 2008. But for those who are old enough to have been around for it, they’ll also think of the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. The magnitude 7.5 quake claimed the lives of 240,000 people who lived in the industrial city of Tangshan, located 140 kilometers away from Beijing. This tragic event in history is the starting point in director Feng Xiaogang’s film Aftershock.
Focusing on religious oppression in China misses the big picture (February 28, 2017, CNN)
Protestantism is booming and Chinese cities are full of unregistered (also called "underground" or "house") churches. These are known to the government but still allowed to function. They attract some of the best-educated and successful people in China. And they are socially engaged, with outreach programs to the homeless, orphanages, and even families of political prisoners. To me, this is an amazing story and far outweighs the cross-removal campaign, which basically ended and seems to have had no lasting consequences.
An excerpt from ChinaSource Law and Policy Monitor, part of a new package of services aimed at assisting faith-based organizations as they deal with the implications of the Overseas NGO Law and related policy developments.
The number of Chinese Christians continues to grow, both inside and outside of China. As large numbers of Chinese move and travel abroad, particularly to the West, many encounter Christianity for the first time. Many of these Chinese come to faith while abroad. After living abroad, Chinese Christians often have trouble transitioning into church life once they return to China. Their experience of the overseas church is often dramatically different from their experiences in Chinese churches. Brother Sang Shang, a returnee himself, highlights the difficulties returnee Christians face when they return to China.
According to the Institute of International Education, there were 328,547 students from China in colleges and universities throughout the United States in 2016. This includes those enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and “optional practical training” programs. But it’s not just higher education institutions where Chinese students are found; increasing numbers are now enrolled in high schools. The Institute of International Education reported that in 2013, there were more than 23,000 Chinese students enrolled in secondary schools in the US.
For new cross-cultural workers, Tabor Laughlin’s Becoming Native to Win the Natives is a must read. His book has the rare combination of being practical, relevant, and readable.
After being James, Peter, and William, I decided to stick with my Chinese name (February 14, 2017, Quartz)
Should Chinese people adopt English first names when interacting with Westerners? The benefits of doing so are obvious. Going by a conventional English name—but not weird names like “Candy,” “Promise” or “Devil“—makes everyone’s life easier. But my experiences studying and working in English-speaking multicultural environments in the past few years have made me realize that sticking to your Chinese name is better if you want foreigners to know who you are—and if you want to feel good about yourself.
Even though there was no law governing their operation in China until January 1, foreign NGOs have been operating in China for quite some time. Typically, they were either registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs or operated with the approval of provincial or local officials. The new law now requires all NGOs to register with the Ministry of Public Security.
A note from the director of ChinaSource Institute . . .
China’s economic boom has turned the country seemingly overnight from a largely rural based population into a majority urban-based society. Migrant workers from the countryside, including many Christian migrants, have flocked to urban areas in search of better economic prospects. Urban populations have swelled, but so have tensions. Migrants lack access to public services and are often regarded by city residents as inferior. Yet, most city residents acknowledge city life would largely come to a halt without migrant labor. The following article is a helpful peek into how the church can respond to China’s urbanization.
Questions for those who are working themselves out of a job, or for those who should be . . .
Chinese children generally want to please their parents. Traditional Chinese culture encourages this, and those children who fall outside of this cultural norm may even be looked down upon by their peers. So what do Chinese Christians do if they want to become missionaries? How can they blend their responsibilities toward parents with the calling they feel from God to go to a foreign country to share the gospel?
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Nevertheless Chinese missionary attrition rates are high. A study performed using interviews with long-term Chinese missionaries and focus groups with short-term Chinese medical missionaries revealed several factors related to missionary attrition. This article examines the role of one of those factors—parent and extended family issues—and offers suggestions for resolving difficulties.
How Spring Festival is being redefined? (February 13, 2017, China Daily)
For most Chinese, the weekend's Lantern Festival signaled the end of this year's Spring Festival and the return to real life and work in the new year. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated at home with family. Fireworks and the giving of red packets make it the happiest time of year for children. However, modern lifestyles are rewriting how many Chinese celebrate this most important festival.
Earlier this month I wrote a post on the “why” behind China’s new overseas NGO law, which put the law into the larger political context of China. For a closer look at how the law was actually formulated, I recommend Shawn Shieh’s excellent piece, “The Origins of China’s New Law on Foreign NGOs,” which traces the evolution of NGO policy from the late 1980s up to the present.
Pastoral ministry is typically not a desired vocation among Chinese Christians. Although pastors in China are revered for their rich spiritual gifts and selfless service to the church, pastoral ministry itself is poor, lonely, and draining. In this article from Green Olive Books, the author, a layperson, highlights the difficulties of being a pastor in China, as well as the need for Chinese Christians to better support their pastors.
When I was living in Changchun in the 1990s, as the city was beginning to shed the past and put on a modern skin, I often wondered what it would look like twenty years hence. This video answers the question.
Shanghai’s Peace Old Jazz Band is said to be "the oldest jazz band in the world.” The members of the band, aged between 65 and 87 years of age, have been playing together at Shanghai’s Peace Hotel nightly for over 30 years. This delightful documentary by German director, Uli Gaulke, features the six sprightly bandmates as they are invited to play at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands—the biggest show of their careers!
Chinese Converted out West Are Losing Faith Back Home (January 26, 2017, Foreign Policy)
Yet large numbers of converts give up after coming back to China. Volunteers and missionary staff who have worked for years with Chinese students in the United States estimate that 80 percent of believers eventually stop going to church after returning home. It generally takes time for returnees to find their places again in a country still searching for rules and norms to match its rapid economic and social changes.
Since the implementation of the new Overseas NGO Law on January 1, overseas organizations that work in/with/for China have been in varying degrees of panic. Maybe this is you, and you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with trying to interpret the new law as it applies to your specific situation, let alone embarking on the steps necessary to become legitimized. We're here to help!
Late last year, a Christian crowdfunding drive made headlines and sparked controversy on Chinese social media. Luo Er, the father of a five-year-old girl with leukemia, posted an article online in which he vented his frustration at God. Luo demanded that Jesus heal his daughter otherwise he would stop believing in him. Thousands of people read the article and donated over 2 million RMB ($290,000USD) to help pay for the medical expenses of the family. Tragically, Luo’s daughter died shortly after Luo started the campaign. Luo was later arrested for fraud and fined. Chinese Christians have hotly debated the incident, many questioning Luo’s intentions and asking how Christians should respond in the midst of such suffering. One response to these questions of suffering comes from a writer for OC Gospel. “Rachel” reflects on the Luo incident by remembering another tragic story of Christian suffering.
The religious climate in China, especially for Christians, may be messy but it’s not beyond understanding. This course, "The Church in China Today," offers a comprehensive overview of the church in China, ranging from a historical understanding of how far the church has come, to the struggles it endures in present day, to common misconceptions about the state of the church.
As part of the ChinaSource Institute’s ongoing effort to provide resources for those serving in China, we are pleased to announce our latest online course, “The Church in China Today.”
My neighborhood—most of my city, actually—is currently undergoing a dramatic change, the likes of which I have not seen in my two decades of residency. I first began to notice that something different was occurring in the autumn of last year, but in recent weeks the transformation has become undeniable and unavoidable. Its duration and its effects on the local population remain to be seen.
It's Lunar New Year, and China's Young People Are Sick and Tired of It (January 29, 2017, Global Voices)
However, the traveling trend has shifted slightly in recent years, as more and more people decide to travel abroad during the holiday, in order to avoid seeing relatives altogether. Among the younger generation in particular, many find the Near Year's greetings and conversation among extended family members about their marriage and income status to be annoying.
With the implementation of the new Overseas NGO Law it is imperative that organizations engaged in China become familiar with the provisions of the legislation, along with subsequent documents and pronouncements that continue to provide clues as to how the law is actually being carried out.
Earlier this month we posted the first part of an article of reflections on pollution in China that was published in the journal Territory. The focus of the article is how Chinese Christians reflect on the recent waves of heavy pollution in north China. This week we post the rest of the reflections.
Today is chu-san, the third day of the new lunar year. China is essentially closed since everyone gets at least a 7-day holiday and many will be gone from their jobs or schools for a month or more. To give you a feel for how the holiday is being celebrated, here’s a round-up of some interesting articles that have been published recently.
Faithful cross-cultural service requires at least some understanding of the local context. During my years in Shanxi I have invested a sizable portion of time and energy into helping my colleagues here—Chinese and expatriate—better understand local history, particularly as it pertains to ministry. I have been impressed over and over again by the striking degree to which the words and deeds of our spiritual ancestors relate directly to our present circumstances.
China cracks down on VPNs, making it harder to circumvent Great Firewall (Marcy 23, 2017, The Guardian)
The nation’s ministry of industry and information technology announced a 14-month “cleanup” of internet access services, including making it illegal to operate a local VPN service without government approval. VPN services use encryption to disguise internet traffic so that web surfers in China can access websites that are usually restricted or censored by the Great Firewall.
Over the past few months there have been numerous articles and posts written about the new Foreign NGO Law. We have been trying to keep you updated on new developments through this blog and ZGBriefs, but we thought it would be helpful to compile the resources (so far) in one place.
This week sees the arrival of Chinese New Year, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. Most of China will shut down for the week as people return to their ancestral homes to celebrate with family. For Chinese Christians, the holiday can often bring them mixed emotions: happiness and distress. Christians are excited to celebrate with family and friends. But, they also experience instances when their Christian faith rubs up against cultural expectations. In a society where Christianity often runs counter-cultural, Chinese New Year is a particularly concentrated moment of trials. In this translated article from Christian Times, the author reminds Christians of what is most important when they return home for the New Year.
What do “prehistoric powers,” “skinny blue mushroom,” “melon-eating masses,” and “chuanpu” have in common?
The church in China is in a period of incredible growth. Concurrent with this exponential numerical growth, Chinese Christians have developed a passionate interest in taking the gospel to parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe where relatively few Christians live scattered among two billion non-Christian people.
Have you rented a boyfriend for the Spring Festival? (January 18, 2017, China Daily)
The price of renting a boyfriend to take home with you is surging to as high as 1,500 yuan ($219) a day as Spring Festival approaches, chinanews.com reported on Wednesday. Some single women, who are pressured by their parents to marry, choose to rent a boyfriend for home to soften or dispel parents' dissatisfaction with their singledom. Catering to the market, men are advertising their availability at higher prices on social networking platforms.
The Chinese church has a growing passion to participate in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Nevertheless, previous studies have highlighted a lack of cultural awareness and linguistic ability among Chinese missionaries hindering missionary effectiveness. I recently conducted interviews with Chinese missionaries. Data from these interviews suggest that Chinese missionaries are being better trained and becoming increasingly adept at culturally contextualizing the gospel message. This kind of forward progress should be strongly encouraged.
As the new year kicks off we’d like to suggest some additions to your 2017 reading list. Last year members of our team along with several of ChinaSource’s regular contributors were busy with book projects. Here we share some of the fruits of their labors. Each of the books presents a different perspective on China. Together they help fill out the very dynamic picture of what God is doing in China today.
The new Foreign NGO Law requires approval from a “Professional Supervisory Unit” or “Chinese Partner” in order to conduct activities in China. So what's the difference between them?
As China moved from 2016 into 2017, a wave of heavy pollution blanketed the Northeast for over a week. The persistent smog not only made headlines abroad, but also generated much online conversation. Although many Chinese have learned to cope with or weather regular pollution, these unprecedented levels of smog caused many to question more seriously what effects the pollution has on their lives. How have some Chinese Christians responded? The journal Territory put together several reflections from Christians on varying contrasting themes related to pollution.
In the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, two Christians in China offer their thoughts on the future of Chinese mission sending structures.
As Joann Pittman skillfully conveys in her new book, The Bells are Not Silent, the church bells of China provide a valuable—and until now, largely neglected—window into the life of China’s church.
China’s Rural Poor Bear the Brunt of the Nation’s Aging Crisis (January 4, 2017, Bloomberg)
The outlines of China’s demographic challenge are well-known: By 2050 almost 27 percent of the population will be 65 or older, up from around 10 percent in 2015, according to projections by the United Nations and the China Research Center on Aging. Less recognized is that the crisis will hit hardest in villages like Shangxule, which are suffering the twin effects of China’s one-child policy and decades of migration to the cities.
As the sending of cross-cultural workers from China gains momentum, many international sending organizations see China as a rich source of potential new workers for the harvest.
China Christian Daily recently posted a list of the most popular news stories from the China Christian Times. Some may be surprising.
On Sunday, January 1 China’s new law governing foreign NGOs in China went into effect. The good folks at China Development Brief have put together a helpful infographic covering the basic information about the law.
When Joann discovered a 150-year-old American bell hanging in a church in southwest China she knew there was a story to tell. Who had decided to ship it? How had it been transported? How had it survived the political turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s? She also knew that if there was one bell there must be others. Over the course of eight months she traveled around China looking for old church bells, finding ones from the United France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. This book is a collection of stories about those bells. But more importantly, they are stories of God’s faithfulness to his church in China.
This is the fifth 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.
Inside China's 'mosquito factory' fighting Zika and dengue (December 28, 2017, CNN)
Zhiyong Xi is a man on a mission. He wants to rid China -- and potentially the world -- of mosquitoes, specifically the ones that carry devastating diseases like Zika and dengue. And he's doing it in the classic style of good versus evil. "We're building good mosquitoes that can help us fight the bad ones," the entomologist said in his 3,500-square-foot laboratory in Guangzhou, China.
Over the course of 2016, as I have had the opportunity to participate in various gatherings of Chinese Christians, I have heard two conversations going on simultaneously.
Are you wondering which posts you and your fellow readers enjoyed the most in 2016? Look no further; here is the list!
It’s time for our annual look back at the most popular posts on our From the West Courtyard blog in 2016. Here is what you, our readers, particularly liked this past year: