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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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: