There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
—C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
In this issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly (CSQ), the writers have consistently painted a picture of China’s migrant workers, those “immortals” who are relentlessly loved and pursued by the God who created them and have a divine right to hear and see the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed and lived out, walking in community with his followers; becoming “everlasting splendors.”
We are introduced to “the entrenched hukou system [which,] along with the opportunities it either afforded or excluded, had created—or perhaps revealed—a class-based society.”1 We learn about the urban/rural divide and the considerable life and systemic social barriers migrants have and are facing.
The impact is staggering:
- Over a thirty-year period starting with “the economic reform era [which] began in 1979 under Deng Xiaoping . . . 300 million villagers had left their homes in search of a piece of China’s growing economic pie, fueling the engine of the world’s hottest economy.”2
- “There are still 280 million migrant workers, the majority of whom flow into China’s second- and third-tier cities.”3
- There are an “estimated sixty-one million offspring of migrant workers who grow up separated from their parents, or one in five of all Chinese youth.” These liushouertong, left-behind children, come from families “not only broken by divorce, but by division,” as “most of the children of migrants, will see [their] mother and father only once or twice a year, during the rare leave they get from whatever factory, construction site, or restaurant kitchen employs them.”4
The composite of this Quarterly takes us much further than the painful results of the hukou system. You will find no hand wringing and minimal finger pointing here. We are privileged to be introduced to men, women, and children who have experienced, and continue to experience, crushing loss through separation and discrimination. We hear their stories of perseverance, courage, and transformation in Christ.
I was also deeply moved by the writers whose calling is based on love and sustained by the grace of God, those who work through the body of Christ in China and see that China’s “’floating population’—is one of the best vehicles in the world today for fulfilling Christ’s global mandate.”5 The church is at its best when it has the heart of compassion that Jesus expressed when he saw the crowds who were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). This is especially true when that heart of compassion leads to friendship and community in Christ.
Brennan Manning wrote in Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God, “The litmus test of our love for God is our love of neighbor.” As you read this issue of CSQ, note the commitment the authors have to the ministry of incarnation, as indicated by their calling to their migrant friends whom they want to get to know, love, respect, and honor; as C.S. Lewis said: “No flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
As I read, I kept thinking about a portion of “The Lausanne Covenant” faith statement that states: “World evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” As you dive deeply into these articles, you will be encouraged that this powerful, eternal dynamic is being lived out mightily, one precious life at a time.
- See “The Struggles and Strengths of China’s Migrant Workers” by Reggie Reimer in this issue.
- See “Reflections from a Foreign Friend: My Years with China’s Migrants” by Reggie Reimer in this issue.
- See “Thinking about Multiplying Migrant Worker Churches in Urbanizing China” by Mark Chu in this issue.
- See “The Factory, the Family, the Future” by Noah Samuels in this issue.
- See “Reflections,” by Reimer.
Image Credit: A friend of ChinaSource
Rev. Kerry Schottelkorb is the president of ChinaSource. For twenty years Kerry was involved in local church planting and youth ministry, both in the US and Hong Kong. He was the founding pastor of the Cle Elum Alliance Church in Cle Elum, Washington and one of two founding pastors of Evangelical …View Full Bio