The Lantern from 2013
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New China, New Church, New World
Now that the spacecraft Chang'e 3 has successfully touched down on the moon's surface, China can add a lunar landing to its list of stunning achievements in the past three decades. These achievements among them the most spectacular Olympic Games opening ceremony in history, the lifting of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and the migration of hundreds more millions from the countryside to the cities stand out as exclamation points in the fast-paced narrative of China's transformation. At once breathtaking and disorienting, the making of what TIME magazine decades ago called "The New, New China" has transformed not only a nation but also its place in the world at large.
A remarkable article appeared in the Global Times (the English-language mouthpiece of the authoritative People's Daily) on October 10 that openly acknowledged the division between China's official Three Self Church and the unofficial church and suggested that the authorities are trying to bridge the gap between official and underground believers that has seemed irreconcilable for a generation.
Last summer's crash of an Asiana jetliner in San Francisco shocked and saddened many in China. More than a hundred of the passengers were Chinese high school students enroute to a summer camp in California. The unfortunate tragedy also shone a spotlight on a growing trend of Chinese youth studying in US high schools. By one estimate 25,000 Chinese high schoolers are currently in private schools in the United States.
In an historic gathering at the end of June, some 100 church leaders from China joined with their counterparts from around Asia and beyond for the Asian Church Leaders Forum, held in Seoul, Korea. This conference was particularly meaningful in that most of these leaders had planned to attend the 2010 Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, but at the last minute were prevented from leaving China. Nearly three years later, their vision of being able to take their "seat at the table" with other leaders from around the globe became a reality.
Anyone who has been involved in China over the past 30 years can complete the sentence "When I first came to China " with a vividperhaps even harrowingaccount of what China was like in the past. The readily observable changes in day-to-day living that have come about from rapid development and economic growth are phenomenal and at times unsettling. Those newly arrived in China are often surprised at what they find and realize that the reading they have done or the orientation classes they have taken in preparation for living and working in China have not kept up with the pace of development in China.
On June 4, ChinaSource conducted an online webinar entitled "Socially Speaking," in which we gave participants a behind the scenes look at how ChinaSource is utilizing the internet and social media to engage the Christian community around critical issues facing China. In this edition of the Lantern, we would like to share some of that content with you.
In 2008, the tainted milk scandal broke in China. Melamine was being added to locally produced milk products to increase the apparent protein content of the milk. More protein, better for your kids, right? Wrong. When added to food products, melamine can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. Melamine-laced milk caused the death of six infants and made approximately 300,000 children ill, 54,000 required hospitalization. The very thing parents bought to nurture their children was a danger to their health.
In recent years we have rejoiced to hear that the church in China is responding to the Great Commission and sending workers into the harvest fields, both at home in China and beyond China's borders. Most often we hear of the Back to Jerusalem (BTJ) movement with its inspiring call for the Chinese to bring the gospel full circle back to its origins. Yet there is much more involved than a simple trajectory through the Middle East to Jerusalem.
Persecution in China a lightning rod for pundits of every persuasion and a topic of vital importance to Christians who grieve for the sufferings of their brothers and sisters. A recent report by China Aid citing an increased number of incidents of persecution in 2012 and claiming that the Chinese government has embarked on a planned effort to eradicate the house churches in China by 2025 is being widely reported in the news. Headlines such as "How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches" are grabbing attention and painting a bleak picture for China's Christians.