One thing Tom shared that I found very helpful is the issue of worldview. How do you look at the world? How do you look at people? I think when we go to in with a Christian worldview it radically changes how we interact with people. The idea that people have value not because of who they are or what they can do for me or the government or an organization, but because God created them changes a huge number of things. It changes our relationships. It changes what we value.
Also, Tom’s comment that people disciple people and nations disciple nations is worth thinking about. One thing I have tried to do in my own life is when I talk with Chinese believers and the people they have impacted, I ask them why or how. They often string together a whole series of incidences that God has led them through that ultimately brought them into the Kingdom. One thing personally I have realized is that I do not have a responsibility for that entire chain of events; God and his Holy Spirit are in charge of that. However, at the point that I am interacting with people am I being faithful? Am I being and doing what I am supposed to at that point? That has helped me a lot. Some people become very frustrated working with the Chinese government. One of the approaches I have taken is that they are people Jesus died for, and if they want a process to take a few hours or a few days, well, I will be there. We will continue to interact and through that interaction they will see what I think and believe. Maybe God will use that in their lives.
Tom also referred to the whole idea of drivers of change. He mentioned briefly that it really is up to the local communityand many times to local believers. We, I think, sometimes coming from the outside, have a catalytic role to play. Sometimes we can bring a different perspective, perhaps at times some resources, but ultimately it will be up to the people and their engagement.
Tom also mentioned the role of businesses. We are all aware of China’s emphasis on building a harmonious society. Last year, I heard one of China’s leading economists, Fong Dong, who said, “What’s the foundation of a harmonious society? It’s having a job. It’s being able to work, to have the dignity that goes with that and to be able to support your family.” I found this very interesting coming from a secular psychologist. This ultimately drives society.
He presented some of the challenges–a focus on addressing poverty. I like what Tom was saying, starting with assets. Every individual, every community has assets. The question is, “What can be done with them?” Ultimately, we are trying to drive towards dignity and justice. Think again of a biblical worldview: God treats us with justice; therefore we have a responsibility to treat other people the same way. That changes a huge number of things in how we relate to people and manage business. Tom mentioned the importance of integrity and transparency. I think Christian organizations have often approached the Chinese government as the enemy. They might not think the way you and I think, but I believe that ultimately they are trying to do what is in the best interest of their country and their people. I think Tom’s approach of coming in, explaining who we are and what we want to do is correct. Chinese are very practical people. They will see what is ultimately going to benefit them as well as China and respond to that. We do not always help ourselves through our modeling. I have heard people say, “Well, China has these laws of paying taxes but they don’t apply to me.” I do not think we would take that approach in our own country, so why do we sometimes export that to China? I think that is modeling the wrong kind of approach.
Again, we need to understand the beliefs, culture and history to build a foundation. This weekend I was listening to a sermon about Daniel, and in the first part of the book of Daniel it talks about how he learned the language and literature of the Babylonians. That became the basis for a lot of what he did throughout his career. That has been a challenge to me. Do I really understand China?
The approach Tom lined out is really starting from the bottom up. I do not think we should really worry about the entire nation; rather, we should worry about the piece that God has called us to and try to do that piece well. I think there is another approach to also consider, and that is the top down. Sometimes you do have opportunities to talk to leaders in government, banking, courts and others in society. In those interactions, if they begin to see a different way of looking at people, of looking at the world, there can be a tremendous flow-down effect that opens up other opportunities. I would say you should not exclude that from your mindset if you are looking at how you really effect social change and help build a nation.
I would focus on what you can control; you start small. We were talking before the session that China always wants us to start big. I have been working with a group in Sichuan with handicapped folks. The local government told us, “We have 40,000 handicapped people in just this district of one small, third-tier city in China.” I thought, “We can handle about ten this year.”
You will always have this tension in China, no matter what you do. I remember talking to the World Health Organization a couple of years ago. They wanted to eradicate measles. It is pretty easy to eradicate measlesyou just inoculate all the children. However, to do that, just in Sichuan, was going to require training some 12,000 health care workers and 2,000 hospitals. It went on and on and on. The cost was about $70 millionjust for one province. China has no small problems.
I think our focus is to be faithful where we have opportunities, where we can impact and trust that God is a great God. He is mobilizing a lot of people around the world, and within China that, I believe, will ultimately have a huge impact on the country. We have our part to do, so let’s do that faithfully trusting that God is doing great things in China.