In recent years, some churches in China have begun to think about and become more involved in cross-cultural ministry among China’s ethnic minorities. In August the mainland site Gospel Times published an article about efforts by some churches in eastern and northeastern China to establish churches in minority areas. The article is translated below in full:
Cross-Cultural Ministry in the Chinese Church
China has 56 ethnic groups and a minority population of about 150 million people. In addition to evangelizing among Han compatriots, the mainland Chinese church is gradually taking more seriously cross-cultural ministry among minorities.
Recently, the mainland ministry "Divine Love" held a monthly prayer meeting to introduce "cross-cultural ministry of the Chinese church" and call for prayer to carry out this ministry. These minority ethnic groups and Han ethnic groups are either culturally related or distinct cultures. Since they mostly inhabit relatively remote areas of the Northwest, Southwest, and the North, some ethic groups are very difficult to reach. Their culture and customs are very different from Han Chinese. In addition, the prevalence of spirit and idol worship among many of these ethnic groups means there is a resistance to the gospel. This leads to difficulties and challenges in cross-cultural ministry.
Rise of the Coastal Churches in Cross Cultural Ministry Participation
Since China's economic reform and opening up, God has allowed many churches in coastal areas to prosper and grow, and at the same time increase their involvement with cross-cultural work. Some coastal churches have received a vision to support the living and study costs of lay leaders from different inland provinces so that they can participate in a two-year training course. After graduation, they are sent back to their homes to build and develop cross-cultural ministries. Another training program for minority groups brings church workers from different ethnic groups together for one year of training and then sends them back to their ethnic communities to more effectively serve the Lord. In addition, a number of Christian businessmen from coastal areas also have the desire and burden to be involved in cross-cultural work. In different areas they simultaneously conduct business and have the opportunity to share the gospel with the minority groups with whom they come into contact. Their work, protected and blessed by God, is quite effective.
Sent Workers Blaze the Way for Churches
A church in the Northwest sent a married couple to a remote area to establish a minority group church. The remote area is accessible by a 10-hour drive from the couple’s church. They have been doing this work for four years and have established a church with more than 80 people that is made up of Mongolian, Hui, and Tibetan believers.
In addition, a church in the Northeast sent workers to the western region to proclaim the truth of salvation to a minority group where it is very difficult to share the gospel. According to the church workers sent out, although they were sent to serve in China, there is still a significant cultural gap between them and the people they serve. They need time to adapt and overcome the difficulties of living and doing ministry in a cross-cultural setting. In addition, because these are multi-religious and multi-ethnic regions, the obstacles to evangelism are greater than the southeastern coastal regions. There are many practical difficulties and they need more brothers and sisters to lift up their holy hands in prayer for them.
Place Value on Domestic Cross-Cultural Ministry in Order to Prepare Future Overseas Missionaries
One of the long-term goals of the Chinese church is to become involved in overseas missions. Some church workers who have this aspiration are currently in language training to prepare for the day God calls them to missions. At present, China's interior still has many unreached people, especially minorities, waiting for God's workers to share the gospel with them. The church should first concentrate its efforts to work among the minority groups of the interior. The church should accumulate experience in ministering to different culture groups, wait to be called by God, and then prepare to participate in overseas cross-cultural overseas ministry.
Gospel Starved Areas Need Prayer
Some pastors from eastern China shared that their church sees the gospel work in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia as very desolate. The church is weak and meeting for worship is not easy. The church lacks spiritual resources, and preaching and pastoral work are limited. Please pray for the local church. They hope to be able to pray for the needs of the local church.
Pray for China's Cross-Cultural Ministry Work
"Divine Love" called for brothers and sisters to pray for the ministry to minority groups, that they will hear and receive the gospel. Pray for the Lord to give vision to carry out cross-cultural ministry to churches in the interior, relying on the power of God to break through geographical and cultural obstacles to bring the Gospel to more culturally similar and culturally different ethnic groups. At the same time, pray for those church workers who are engaged in the cross-cultural ministry of the church.