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My ChinaSource Story

From the series Looking Back


I met Dr. Brent Fulton in the spring of 2008 at a ChinaSource consultation in Shenzhen. I was doing fieldwork research for my doctoral dissertation at Cornell University. I was impressed by the strategic consultation ChinaSource did for NGOs. It was more than just networking; it was thinking and praying to discern together. At the end of that year I contributed an article to ChinaSource Quarterly on migration. Later I had the opportunity to present my research on the larger context of migrant workers at another ChinaSource consultation in Shanghai.

When Brent visited Shanghai in 2010, he asked to interview me and I learned that he was writing a book on urban Christians. By that time, I had graduated and started teaching at a university in Shanghai. My research had shifted from migration and urban poverty to the role of the church, and I was also actively serving my local church. Later my husband and I contributed another article to the Quarterly, a field study on a Chinese cult.

Then as our theology and participation in urban churches deepened, we wanted to respond to the needs in those areas. Brent invited us to guest edit a theological issue for ChinaSource Quarterly every summer beginning in 2015. The topics have included theology, family life, and urban ministry. Publishing with ChinaSource Quarterly brings us much joy because our research can directly contribute to the work in China.

Although I have known Brent and the ChinaSource team on a professional level for almost ten years, I got to know him better in 2016 when ChinaSource co-sponsored a conference with us in Grand Rapids. On the second day of the conference a dear friend and conference participant was in a tragic car accident. We made changes in the program to make time to pray for Brother Xu. Brent and his wife Jasmine were with us and they poured out their hearts in prayer with us. On the last day of the conference, brother Xu passed away. It left a regrettable scar in us, but it was also an unforgettable time of fellowship with the Fultons.

A year later, when we were invited to attend a conference organized by ChinaSource in Colorado, Brent asked me about Brother Xu’s widow. I was touched to know that he cared and remembered.

The ChinaSource team is a strongly committed group of servants seeking to serve God’s kingdom. Not only are their publications stellar in research quality, their authentic concerns for issues of the Chinese church are rooted in a deep love for God. I highly admire their integrity, too.

I have learned much from Brent Fulton—from seeing him and his team affirm unity in Christ in bringing servants from all denominational backgrounds together. Many organizations talk about vision, but ChinaSource lives it out.

Mary Li Ma

Mary Li Ma

Mary Li Ma (MA Li) holds a PhD in sociology from Cornell University. Currently a research fellow at the Henry Institute of Christianity and Public Life at Calvin College, she and her husband Li Jin have coauthored articles, book chapters, and a book forthcoming this December, Surviving the State, Remaking the... View Full Bio


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