Back to Jerusalem is not an easy subject to tackle. Some of us have declared our position openly and explicitly for total unqualified support, accepting the visionary figure of 100,000 missionaries as reality. It is difficult to back down and admit that we may not have gotten all of our facts correct. Others have been silent and cautious on the subject refusing to endorse the visionary figure. The larger community of Christians serving in China has interpreted this silence as unsupportive or even anti-BTJ. Many have felt they were misunderstood. It will take a very generous dose of humility and grace from the Spirit to swallow our pride and accept our very limited understanding.
What is most important in BTJ? Theoretically and theologically, all of us will agree that the focal point should be God’s desire for, and prompting of, the church in China to become involved in cross-cultural missions. In order to make that happen, partnership between the church in China and the worldwide body of Christ is of primary importance.
There is no biblical basis for the church in China to “take up the last baton” of the Great Commission. There is no support for the church in China to “finish the Great Commission” by itself. There is no historical evidence that the gospel traveled only in a westward direction (from Jerusalem to Europe, to North America, then to China), and that by taking the gospel from China to Jerusalem, the Great Commission will be completed.
So, in practice, what is most important about BTJ for you (and your agency or your church)? It is very significant for you to look at the future and to what you and your agency can do. That will be far more constructive than adding fuel to the debate about who says what and when. All of us have made mistakes in our service to Godbe they large or small. None of us is perfect in maturity this side of gloryas the bumper sticker says “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.”
In the final analysis, as many seasoned leaders in China service have pointed out, the most important role outsiders can take for China is to pray.
This current issue of ChinaSource is special in that for the first time, a majority of the writers are Asian. Could this be the beginning of a new era of cooperation between Asians and Westerners? Can Asians play the critical role of linking the church in China with the worldwide body of Christ? I hope that in the not too distant future there can be another issue of this journal devoted to reports of different BTJ related efforts illustrated by effective fruits and synergistic partnerships.
Image credit: Journal Entry (Joel Montes de Oca) by Chris Lott, on Flickr.
WU Xi (pseudonym) began serving China during the mid-70s, just before China’s Open Door policy was implemented. He served in many different capacities including working with Chinese scholars studying in the West, front-line evangelistic work, and church mobilization for China. He now focuses on developing China’s mission ecosystem.View Full Bio