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8 Things to Know about Wang Mingdao


One of the (many) interesting things about the Internet is that it provides a platform for leaders and influencers who are long gone to speak directly to the issues of the day.

A new blog in China called iWorship is giving voice to Wang Mingdao, one of the great evangelists and leaders of the Chinese church during the twentieth century. Last week, on our Chinese Church Voices blog, we posted a translation of one of their posts, called “Slow to Speak.” In it, Pastor Wang reminds us of the importance of using our words for God’s glory.

Given Pastor Wang’s run-ins (to put it mildly) with the authorities in the early years after the revolution, it is somewhat surprising and encouraging that he is still a powerful voice in the Chinese church through the Internet and social media.

In other words, once persecuted, his voice continues to go forth on Chinese social media.

Here are 8 things to know about Wang Mingdao:

  1. He was born in 1900 in the Foreign Legation during the Boxer Rebellion. His parents had taken refuge there during the Siege of Beijing, when the Boxers tried to kill the foreign (and Christian) population.
  2. He attended the London Missionary Church in Beijing, That church is still functioning today as the Gangwashi Christian Church.
  3. He went into full time ministry after a serious illness; it was a promise he had made to God if he survived.  Upon entering the ministry, he changed his name from Tiezi (“Iron Son”) to “Mingdao” (“understanding the Word.”)
  4. He was part of the indigenization movement in the 1930s that called for the church to follow the principles of self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation. The church that he pastored was one of Beijing’s largest Protestant churches.
  5. When the government co-opted the slogan in the early 1950s and formed the Three Self Patriotic Movement to bring the churches under their control, Wang Mingdao refused to join. For this he was sentenced to prison for 15 years.  After spending a short time in prison, he confessed to this "crime" and was released.
  6. In 1958, wracked with guilt over his false confession, he recanted. As a result, he was sent back to prison.
  7. He was released from prison in 1979 and lived out his final days in Shanghai with his wife (released from prison in 1977) and son. He died in 1991.
  8. The hallmarks of his preaching were repentance, conversion, holiness, purity, and truth.

To learn more about Wang Mingdao and other Chinese Christians, please check out the great site Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity.

Other resources on Wang Mingdao:

The Long Road to Freedom; The Story of Wang Mingdao, by Stephen Wang

 Accquainted with Grief: Wang Mingdao's Stand for the Persecuted Church in China by Thomas Alan Harvey.

Header image credit: China/Huangshan, by bomb-bao, via Flickr
Wang Mingdao image credit: Wikipedia.
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio