In this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, all the articles are written by women who share a common purpose—making disciples in China. Their paths may have never personally intersected, but there is harmony in their purpose. Their collective experience represents married women, married with children, single women, Chinese and Westerners. In their writings we can see what happens when women are located in the midst of the missio dei. They show us the beauty of God’s diverse peoples who make up his church, in particular the women in the body of Christ.
Many people believe that cross-cultural workers sacrifice conveniences and an easier life for life among unreached peoples. As you read, you will note struggles for sure, but the sacrifice evident in the women’s stories is that of a sacrificed life in love and on mission with God. They identify with their savior who in God’s wisdom, came into the world, and in humility suffered to the point of death (Philippians. 2:7-8). A life of convenience was not on the women’s agendas. Despite struggles, they show us what a life of obedience to Christ looks like. We can see his life of sacrifice continued in his children as they obey God’s commission to go into the world and to sacrifice themselves for the cause of Christ.1
In the lead article, eL has created a panoramic look at the history of ministering women in China. There are great triumphs and immense challenges. She shows us how women have shaped the church in China in the past and now. She allows us to see an evolution of sorts of women in the Chinese church. One clear theme is that women did not restrain themselves even in hard times. They pressed forward for the gospel.
Rachel Wood shares a very personal account of ministering in China. She deftly takes us through the realities of married life, child-rearing, and church planting from her experiences, even when tragedy struck. Her missional mothering theme offers a glimpse into a very organic life melding God’s mission with family. Serving in China was indeed a family affair.
Skylar Nie offers us insights into the ups and downs of implementing strategy in China. She candidly speaks of learning how to minister cross-culturally. Hers is a story of seeking God’s wisdom to reach a remote people group. Interpreting culture was an essential exercise in order to contextualize the Word. The result of seeking his wisdom and yielding to his direction is as expected—fruitful and inspiring.
The third author, Joy Kwan, speaks to us as only a Chinese single worker can about the realities of serving in today’s China. Although younger than the rest of the writers, you will see her depth of insight, her zeal, and her thoughtful analysis of mission service in China. More of her journey is told in “The Heart of a Single Servant” on the ChinaSource Blog, where she writes of her desire to respond authentically to Scripture. She has developed a personal theology on how to launch into deep water.
Narci Herr reviews the book, Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China, the stunning memoir of Lin Zhao, a young Chinese woman who uses her voice and her blood to write the story of being a Christian during Mao Zedong’s regime. Her poetry expresses the depth of her commitment to Christ— “Shattered jade is what I will to be, offered to China as a sacrifice.”2
Love for Christ and a strong call enabled the women to wade into deeper water. They do not simply do missions; it is who they are. Their missional activities are a concrete expression of something that runs much deeper3—their identity in Christ. Their stories tell only a part of the narrative of women serving Christ in China. But, in their writing we see something of a portrait of many other women who have lived and served in China, and whose stories are yet to be told.
For this issue of CSQ, we are primarily using historical photos of women—both local and expatriate—who have served in China. The pictures come from several sources, the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity, and three friends of ChinaSource, Randy Posslenzny, Ray Smith, and Gaylan Yeung. We hope these images will stir your heart to praise God for the ministries of women in China over the years.
- Ralph Winter and Steven Hawthorne, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: Reader and Study Guide, (William Carey Library, 2012), Kindle Edition.
- Xi Lian, Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China. Basic Books, 2018, p. 135.
- Flemming, Dean. Recovering the Full Mission of God: A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing and Telling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, Kindle edition, p. 258.