I pray…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you (John 17:21, NIV).
God is building his church among the peoples of China, but the vast majority of Chinese have still never heard the gospel—or even the name of Jesus. How can we reach them?
The key to effectiveness in China service today is partnership. Jesus prayed that we might be one. Working in partnership is a very practical way to demonstrate the unity of the body of Christ. People doing their own thing in China often results in duplication, overlap, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. In a recent people-specific working group at a consultation on China ministry, participants discovered that three different Bible translation efforts focused on a specific language of China were being pursued, each without the knowledge of the others.
Partnership develops when God’s people intentionally come together to develop relationships that lead to trust, to learn from one another and to look for ways of working together. This is happening in large and small consultations held in various parts of the world. The goal and outcome of these gatherings is synergy in ministry
Twenty people, representing perhaps a dozen different churches and China ministries, recently gathered to discuss how they could pool their efforts to reach a particular unreached people group in southwest China. As they compared stories, they discovered that God had been weaving them together into a partnership even before they met one another.
About five years ago, a group of people spent 40 days praying and fasting for this particular people group. Shortly after this, a pastor from another group had a dream in which he saw a unique-looking bridge. A man came to him in his dream and told him that he was to take the gospel to the place represented by that bridge; however, he didn’t know where the bridge was, nor whom it represented. Not long after this, a China worker came to his church and showed him a video that featured the bridge characteristic of many of the villages of this particular people group. When the pastor saw the bridge in the video, he said, “That’s what I saw in my dream!” He subsequently sent people to China, went himself, and a church was planted among this people group. Representatives from the pastor’s church then attended a minorities consultation and connected with a linguist while there. From that connection came efforts to form a partnership to have the Bible translated into the language of this people group and provide literacy training for them.
Quite apart from all this, at just the right time, a businessman called our office to inquire if we knew of anyone else focused on this particular people group. We connected him with those we knew, and he was recruited to lead the group through a strategic planning process. Momentum continues to build in this partnership, and there is little doubt now that this particular people group is going to be discipled.
What of the hundreds—perhaps thousands—of other unreached people groups in China? Will more of God’s people around the world come together to form partnerships to reach them? The church in China is beginning to catch the vision. Leaders of four large networks of churches recently committed themselves to send workers to every one of the 467 identified unreached people groups. But they need our help. Will we partner with God and the church in China to reach all the peoples of China?
Image credit: P1000006 by Tony Shih via Flickr.