As the Chinese economy develops and the government is opening many doors in much-needed cooperation with Muslim governments, is it time for the Chinese church to send workers to Muslim nations? There are several reasons why the answer to this question is a resounding yes.
First, the Chinese do not have white faces, which is a negative trait for most westerners who seek to serve among the Muslims. Many Muslims find it harder to trust anyone with a white face. It will be easier for Chinese to blend in with the local people—as Christians from South Korea have found out—than for westerners.
Second, most Muslims assume that Christianity is a religion for westerners. So when Chinese Christians are working in Muslim contexts and daily sharing their faith in Christ, Muslims will see that Christianity is not only a religion for westerners, but is actually a religion for all nations. This will add much legitimacy and weight to the gospel itself. The Muslim will think, “All westerners are supposedly Christians, but this non-westerner is claiming to be a Christian. There must be something more to this Christianity thing.”
Third, most Muslim nations have good relationships with China. For example, because of the oil market, the Saudi Arabian government has a great relationship with the Chinese government.
For the last two years the Chinese chairman Xi Jinping has promoted the “One Belt, One Road” (一带一路) policy, which essentially is a way for the Chinese government to promote trade with the [mostly Muslim] countries along the ancient Silk Road, covering Central Asia, the Middle East, and into Eastern Europe. Generally the Muslim governments are not suspicious of the Chinese. They do not suspect that the Chinese government is seeking to usurp authority of Muslim governments, like many Muslim governments suspect western governments of doing. This trust would make it much easier for Chinese Christians to gain the trust of the locals and effectively share the gospel with them.
Potential Opportunities for Chinese Christians in Muslim Countries
There are a few different options for business opportunities that may be effective for Chinese in the Muslim world.
One option is to open up a Chinese teashop. Many Muslims love to drink Chinese green tea. Muslims in general enjoy drinking tea and coffee. A place like a Chinese teashop could offer Chinese teas and also local teas and coffees. This would be relatively easy to run with the proper personnel, because teahouses are so common in China.
A second option is to open up a Chinese language-learning school. This option is reasonable, but not as good as the first option. This would work best in a large metropolitan city (i.e. Casablanca, Cairo, Alexandria), where there may be enough people who are interested in learning Chinese. Most likely Chinese language skills are not in high enough demand for a Chinese language-learning school to be profitable in smaller cities. Another language-related option could be for a Chinese teacher to teach in a larger language school that teaches multiple languages.
A third option is to open up a small Chinese restaurant. It would be easy to start up and would not necessarily need any specific expertise to open it up, other than being able to cook Chinese food. Another thing that makes this easier is because such restaurants are found all around China, so it is not a totally new idea for the Chinese workers to do this.
The Lord is opening many doors around the world for the Chinese Christians to be used to reach the least-reached areas of the world, the Muslim lands. May this continue to happen and may many well-qualified and godly Chinese believers be sent to these lands while the window of opportunity is still open.
To continue the conversation, contact Tabor Laughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: China by M M via Flickr.
Tabor Laughlin (pseudonym) is a PhD student in Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He received his MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Missions and his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He has been serving in China for ten years, and is president of a... View Full Bio