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Effective Outreach among Chinese—No Visa Required


China in Our Midst: Reaching Chinese International Students in America by Glen Osborn and Daniel B. Su. China Outreach Ministries, 2017, 145 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0692857366. Available in paperback for $7.95 or as an ebook for $3.99 on Amazon.

For those who live near university campuses, opportunities to reach out to Chinese students and researchers with the gospel are well within reach and don’t require a visa or plane ticket. Churches wanting to minister among Chinese often need look no further than the closest college campus.

The challenge often isn’t lack of opportunity but rather a lack of understanding that effective ministry is possible for any believer in Christ who wants to serve Chinese students studying overseas.

Questions often arise:

  • I’d like to get to know the Chinese students in my neighborhood but how do I go about it?
  • I’ve never been to China and I don’t know much about Chinese people. Can I still be effective in sharing my faith with Chinese students?
  • Most of the Chinese students I’ve met are brilliant scientists. How can I share the gospel with them?
  • If Chinese students have been taught atheism throughout their education in China, how do I introduce the truth that there is a God?
  • Wouldn’t be better to let the Chinese churches in my area reach out to the Chinese students?
  • If a student comes to faith in Christ will he (or she) be in danger when he returns to China?

These and many other questions are addressed in China in Our Midst: Reaching Chinese International Students in America.

Glen Osborn and Daniel Su of China Outreach Ministries (COM) have put together a book that will help anyone who wants to get involved in serving and reaching Chinese students but is uncertain about how to do it or wonders if they are qualified.

The book begins with an overview of the current situation in which over 300,000 Chinese students are studying or doing research in American universities. Included is a brief account of the historical background of missions in China and specifically the efforts to reach Chinese intellectuals. They note that when Chinese president Xi Jinping came to the US in 2012 (he was vice-president at the time) he made a point of visiting Iowa again—the place where he had done agricultural research in 1985 and had stayed in the home of an American family.  The point? You just never know who you could be talking to when you reach out in friendship to a Chinese international student!

In part two, the authors explain general principles for working with Chinese students. Being careful to avoid stereotypes, they describe characteristics of most Chinese students. Demonstrating the love of Christ through building relationships with students is seen as key to gaining a hearing for the gospel. Based on Osborn’s DMin in Missions dissertation in which he surveyed 60 Chinese scholars who came to faith in Christ while studying in America, the authors lay out what effectively moved them towards faith and what hindrances needed to be overcome. Finally, they emphasize that evangelism is a process which takes time and may include a variety of approaches (hospitality, meeting needs, friendship, etc.) but at some point must include an encounter with truth. An adaptation of the Engel Scale (which lays out stages in the spiritual decision process) is introduced with modifications specific to the situation and background of most Chinese scholars.  An unexpected, yet compelling, case is also made for the importance of joy in the conversion of Chinese students.

Part three provides the nuts and bolts for sharing the gospel with Chinese students, including:

  • Keys to Cross-cultural Communication with Chinese Intellectuals
  • Security Concerns (not something many Americans would even think about)
  • Finding Open Doors through Felt Needs
  • How to Address Typical Questions
  • Is Christianity Anti-Science or Pro-Truth?
  • Dos and Don’ts in Ministry to Chinese
  • Biblical Perspectives on Ministry to Chinese
  • Chinese and Americans Working Together
  • The Importance of Unity and Harmony

Here, in this section, is where the questions suggested at the beginning of this post are addressed.

The final section deals with prospects for the future: the possibility of a growing Christian influence and impact in China, how to respond to China’s increasing global influence, and the critical role China’s intellectuals will play in China’s future. 

The book is also the story of China Outreach Ministries and what motivates those who serve with COM. Throughout the book, personal testimonies, both of the authors’ own experiences and of Chinese scholars who came to faith, illustrate in an engaging way the principles, methods, and practical tips that make up the bulk of the book.

I can see this book being used in at least three ways:

  • Individually by those involved in, or who are considering involvement in, Chinese student ministry. The book has a wealth of information and encouragement to take anyone a step further in effectively reaching Chinese students.
  • As a text or additional resource for those providing training for international student ministry
  • As a study guide for a small group or Sunday School class in a church that is interested in reaching Chinese students in their area. 

Indeed, if the book is used in any of these three ways, the purpose of the book, “to inform and inspire those currently involved in Chinese student ministry, as well as those who could and will be involved,” (p. 2) will be well achieved.

Narci Herr

Narci Herr

Narci Herr and her husband, Glenn, lived for just over 30 years in Hong Kong. They were first involved in working with the church in Hong Kong and then for the last 20 years of their time in Asia they served workers living in China. During that time Glenn traveled extensively throughout China and Narci... View Full Bio