Peoples of China

God’s Love for the Minorities of China

As we consider the fact that the minorities of China constitute less than 7% of the population of that huge nation, we might be tempted to dismiss them as less important than the nearly 1.2 billion Han Chinese.  However, that would not reflect the heart of God.  The Bible makes it clear that God’s love extends to all the peoples of the earth, including the minorities. The Bible is a book about people groups and often refers to minority peoples. A study of the hundreds of references to people groups in Scripture reveals a clear theme: God loves all the peoples of the earth and desires that they become His people. Consider with me some of the ways God expresses his love to the peoples of the earth.

By Blessing Them

God declared his intention to bless all the peoples of the earth in Genesis 12:3.  Speaking to Abram, He said “…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  The preceding verses reveal God’s chosen method of blessing: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.’”  (Gen. 12:1-2)

While the call of Abraham was in one sense a unique event, it reveals a pattern we see repeated throughout the pages of Scripture—and even to the present time: God calls out an individual, blesses him, and then makes him or her a blessing to others.

As Christians, it is critical that we understand this.  God has called us out of our separate ethnic groups to be his people.  He has blessed us, and intends that we in turn be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth. That clearly includes the minorities of China who are desperately in need of the blessing that only the people of God can bring them.

By Judging Them

This seems strange to us.  How does judgement show love?  Yet the Scriptures make it very clear that God’s judgement of the peoples of the earth is an expression of his love for them.

The Psalms declare that God will judge the nations in righteousness, justice, truth, and equity (Ps. 9:8; 96:10,13; 98:9; 110:6). God expresses his love for the peoples of the earth by putting things right.  How the minorities of China would welcome this message, if only they could hear it!  Throughout their history many of them have suffered from discrimination, oppression, even attempts at genocide. To be sure, things are much better today for many of the minorities of China than they once were.  Even so, prejudice, poverty, limited educational opportunities and other serious problems still confront many of them on a daily basis. How welcome they will find the message that God will one day judge between them and their oppressors in righteousness, justice, truth, and equity.

Someday, and it could be very soon, Jesus will return and bring justice to the peoples of the earth.  Isaiah, as quoted by Matthew, prophesied, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.” (Matt. 12:18-21)

The first part of this prophesy has already been fulfilled.  However, the last part awaits a future day for its consummation.  Jesus has already come and proclaimed justice to the nations.  But his message was rejected; indeed, He was himself rejected.  But that is not the end of it.  He is, through us, still proclaiming justice to the nations, and one day He will return to judge them, leading justice to victory.  Should we not share this message with the minorities of China?

By Redeeming Them

Isaiah 25:6-8 says, “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”

What a contrast!  In the verses we have just considered, we see Christ coming to judge the peoples of the earth; here we see him spreading a banquet table for them.

But notice where the feast is to be provided: “On this mountain.”  What mountain?  To answer that question we need to go back to Genesis 22 to the account of Abraham’s journey to a mountain in the region of Moriah, to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.  God had instructed him to do so, but at the last minute provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice.  From that day on it became a saying in Israel, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Gen. 22:14)  Furthermore, God declared that because Abraham had obeyed him in this matter, he would bless all people through his offspring. (Gen. 22:18)

Many years later, on a mountain called Calvary, God provided a substitutionary sacrifice for us—and for all the peoples of the earth.  There Jesus became our redeemer—and the redeemer of all the peoples of the earth who would put their trust in Him.  As a result, the way has been cleared for all peoples to come to the great feast God has prepared for them.  The shroud that envelops them has been destroyed; death itself has been defeated.

In Revelation 5:9 we are told that the saints and angels will one day sing, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

The price for the redemption of the nations has been paid.  However, they will only experience the benefits of this redemption as they hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations….” (Matt. 28:18-19).  The Greek word translated “nations” here is ethne, from which the English word “ethnic” is derived.  Our assigned task as followers of Jesus Christ is to make disciples of all the ethnic peoples of the world.  That surely includes every one of the minorities of China.

Paul Hattaway challenges us to think clearly about how the command applies to the peoples of China: “The term ‘unreached people’ has circulated around mission circles in recent years. Many people, however, do not fully understand the criteria used to determine who has been reached and who remains unreached. . . . The 1982 Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization defined an unreached people as:

A people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their people group without requiring outside (cross-cultural) assistance. . . . Therefore a group is considered reached if it has a viable, indigenous, self-producing church movement in its midst. This means a people group has strong churches pastored by their own people using their own language, and these churches are actively evangelizing their people and planting daughter churches.[1]

“The AD2000 Movement further defined the difference between ‘reached’ and ‘unreached’ by saying a group may be considered statistically reached if it contains more than 5% adherents to any form of Christianity, including 2% adherents to evangelical Christianity. Using this guideline, of the 491 groups profiled in Operation China, a mere 52 groups could be considered reached. Although the revival of Christianity in eastern and southeastern China has resulted in millions of conversions among the Han Chinese, most of western and northern China remains in complete spiritual darkness, without a glimmer of Gospel light.”[2]

The challenge to us is clear.  We must not rest until every one of the peoples of China has been reached with the gospel and a church planting movement established within it.  God’s heart for the peoples of China, including the minorities, is clear: He loves them all, and wants to give them all an opportunity to become His people.  Do we share His heart in this, to the extent that we are willing to give our lives to reach them?


  1. ^ Missions Frontiers, April 1995. 
  2. ^ Paul Hattaway, Operation China (UK:  Piquant, forthcoming), Introduction.
Image credit: China Xinjienzhen – minority woman at the market by Anja Disseldorp
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Jim Nickel

Jim Nickel was vice president of ChinaSource from 2000 to 2004 and was involved in promoting work among the unreached Chinese peoples for many yearsView Full Bio