An interview with an oral historian on the importance of church history.
The Unprecedented Reach of China’s Surveillance State (September 15, 2017, China File)
The Chinese Party-state is building a social credit system for collecting information about all of its citizens by police, courts, and other institutions. This enables the government to reach into society to a degree unprecedented in history.
China's burgeoning elderly population is capturing the hearts and imaginations of Christians inside and outside China. Together they are exploring new avenues to reach out to this significant segment of China's population. Here we look at some the challenges facing China's seniors and ways we can pray for them and for those seeking to minister to them in the name of Christ.
Chinese engagement in Africa to date may provide some clues as to how China will impact the "belt and road" nations in the future.
In May of this year, ChinaSource attended the Reformation 500 and the Gospel conference organized by China Partnership. The three-and-a-half day conference in Hong Kong brought together over 3,700 believers (over 3,000 from China) to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Along with hearing from international and mainland Chinese pastors, we interviewed several Chinese attendees to learn more about what drew them to the conference, their take on the current state of the Chinese church, and to hear their impressions of the conference.
We’ve selected excerpts of those interviews showing different perspectives on current church life in China. This week a brother from a reforming church in Shenzhen testifies to faith and reliance on God and a returnee from Chengdu talks about the need for mentoring and adjusting to church in China.
The guest editor's point of view . . .
As part of our on-going commemoration of the 20th anniversary of ChinaSource, we want to collect photos documenting the changes that have taken place in China. Whether you lived and worked there or were just visiting, we’d love to include your photos.
In both church and mission in China, women make up the majority of workers; however, their contributions and circumstances can sometimes be overlooked. The author looks at how God has used women of bygone days to build his church in China. She discusses three examples of women as well as a trio of women who provided leadership and greatly impacted the development of China’s Protestant faith. She also provides a bibliography for those interested in further study of this topic.
We must know the past to understand the present. For the most part, Chinese Christians do not understand Chinese church history; therefore, they often have no means to properly respond to changes in society. A look back at Chinese church history shows us that many of the difficulties faced by today’s Chinese church have similarities to those that have confronted the church over the years. Not only can history suggest appropriate ways to respond to today’s difficulties, it can help us discern God’s purposes in the present.
Strong faith is built upon history. Trust in God rests on the memory of what God has done in the past and the consistency of his character seen in the historical record of his dealings with humankind. Whitefield explains why knowledge and reflection on history are essential for the church in a variety of contexts. For foreign workers serving in an alien context, their willingness to learn the history of their area communicates a depth of interest in the people they are serving.
The Chinese church’s lack of historical consciousness is longstanding. While the secular world has increased its understanding of history in many areas, the church has lagged behind. Only recently has research into church history begun. As it becomes known, the church needs to recognize that history has practical applications and must learn how to apply these. When this does not happen, there are negative effects, and the author discusses some of these.
Following a brief review of the ways Chinese have viewed their history over the centuries, the author turns to the consideration of how today’s PRC citizens view their history. All Chinese views of history have included “history” that is promoted nationally and directly serves the interests of the state. This approved narrative means that for most Chinese there is a nation-wide, generally agreed upon social narrative that may well be the only one he or she knows. The author then offers four items for the foreigner to remember when considering Chinese history or Chinese Christian history.
Using a historical approach, this book looks at the early stages of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and Chinese Protestant Christians’ responses to changing church-state relations from 1949-1958. The author proposes that to understand the conflicts between the early stages of TSPM and the Chinese church leaders, theology and Christian identity are significant factors. This work provides valuable insights to keep in mind while studying the history of Chinese Christianity.
Items requiring your intercession.
A significant resource, this website offers the names and life stories of significant figures in Chinese Christianity including those who pioneered and nurtured the churches, led independent Christian movements, and applied biblical values to Chinese social and political challenges across the centuries and around the world.
How can financial resources be shared effectively? What needs to be considered?
How I Help Students Cheat Their Way to Academic Success (September 12, 2017, Sixth Tone)
I knew what I was doing was unethical, but I also knew I didn’t have enough cash to get through the month.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending. The international church seeks to partner with Chinese missionary senders. Finances are one key, but controversial, area of possible collaboration. Funds can become a stumbling block to mission efforts. Discriminating, time-limited use of money to support Chinese missionary sending in the framework of sound principles of financial giving decrease risks of dependency.
The long-awaited revision of the draft religion regulations circulated last September was signed into law last month and will take effect February 1, 2018.
Excerpts from conversations with mainland attendees of the Reformation 500 and the Gospel conference held in Hong Kong in May 2017.
As ChinaSource celebrates 20 years of ministry, it is a time of reflection and giving thanks. We are privileged to have served the China-ministry community for as long as we have. With today’s post, we are beginning a series, called Looking Back that will take a closer look at those twenty years.
A review of Andrew Kaiser's The Rushing on of the Purposes of God: Christian Missions in Shanxi since 1876.
Homeschooling Still Illegal, Warns Chinese Government (September 6, 2017, Sixth Tone)
In an effort to reduce dropout rates, the Chinese government has clarified that homeschooling, as well as so-called sishu schools that focus on teaching classic Chinese culture, are illegal.
A second look at Chinese Theology, an apology, and a way forward.
The journal ChurchChina published an article earlier this summer on how Chinese Christians can care for and minister to the increasing senior population in China. In recent weeks we have published parts one and two of a translation of that article in which the author described her ministry to the elderly in a senior center and helpful recommendations for serving seniors. This is part three in which the author reflects on and summarizes serving the elderly.
Notes from the US China Catholic Bureau Conference held August 11-13 in New York City.
More on a new resource about contextualization, honor, and shame from Jackson Wu.
On August 28, Chinese celebrated “Qixi,” also known as “Chinese Valentine’s Day." The holiday is based on a mythological Chinese folk story about a goddess who falls in love with a cowherder. Legend has it that prayers offered to the goddess on this day will bring blessings and wisdom.
The holiday has grown in popularity in recent years, sparking more discussion online about if and how Christians should celebrate the holiday. In this article, Chen Fengsheng, a Three-Self pastor in Wenzhou, provides Christians with pastoral advice regarding Qixi.
My Private Space (August 25, 2017, From the West Courtyard)
After a night of baking, students were packing up their cookies to take home to the dorms. For several it was their first experience with an oven, measuring cups, and following a recipe. Vanilla had spilled, fingers had been burned, and the recipe had been seen as a good suggestion. They tasted their creations and rated their success. The general consensus? “Can we do it again?” Of course.
Nestled in a spring-fed valley in the desert northeast of Los Angeles, St. Andrew’s Abbey is a long way from its roots in Chengdu. The only living link that remains is Brother Peter Zhou Bangjiu, a 91-year-old Sichuan native who rejoined the abbey in 1985 following his release from a Chinese labor camp.
The journal ChurchChina published an article earlier this summer on how Chinese Christians can care for and minister to the increasing senior population in China. Last week we published part one of a translation of that article in which the author describes her ministry to the elderly in a senior center. This week we publish part two which includes helpful recommendations for serving seniors.
During my travels around China people often said to me “Your Chinese is better than mine.” When I adamantly denied even the remote possibility that their assertion may be true, they would clarify: “Your Putonghua is better than mine.”
In my twenty years in China I have had the privilege of being both a hostess and a guest. I count these times as priceless moments of learning and joy. The gift of hospitality—friendly, welcoming, and generous treatment offered to guests—is still ready and waiting to be opened.
Should Publications Compromise to Remain in China? - A ChinaFile Conversation (August 21, 2017, China File)
Freedom of expression may have won this battle against state censorship, but if state interference continues what compromises is it permissable for academic institutions and publications to make to stay inside China?
Most books on Chinese Christianity try to trace its history, focusing on key people, events, and movements. While Chloë Starr does not neglect these, she highlights something that most historians neglect: the theology that arose from different contexts expressed the thought and struggles of influential leaders, and shaped the ways that Christians responded to their situation.
In this article from the journal ChurchChina, the author gives an example of how Chinese Christians can care for and minister to the senior population. She describes her own ministry to the elderly in senior centers, as well as makes useful recommendations for how to minister to seniors. This is part one of an article being reposted in three-parts.
Today there are almost unlimited resources for learning Chinese, and many of them are available online for free. Herewith is my list of nine recommended online resources.
Elements of the Chinese church are passionate about participating in the great commission. There is a freshness, an enthusiasm, an excitement about taking the gospel of Christ to unreached parts of the world. To what extent should the international church, an older, more experienced church, undergird these efforts? Come alongside in a supportive role?
Five Things Every New Expat Should Know (August 14, 2017, The Culture Blend)
There is nothing in the world like the beginning of a cross-cultural experience. It is a jumbled, beautiful mess of every possible emotion, wrapped in giddy wonder, coated in absolute confusion.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending. The international church seeks to partner with Chinese missionary senders. In addition to prayer, the international church can support Chinese missionary-senders through resource sharing, mission-sending organization support, and through business cooperation. Chinese medical missionary tentmaking as a business opportunity is examined as a prototype for other potential Chinese tentmaking missionaries. Leadership of Chinese missionary sending efforts must remain in Chinese hands.
Reflections on 20 years of service from Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource.
Brother Tom is a grassroots church planter in an Asian city. For the past twenty years he has worked with a global organization on creating access and sustainability for church planting.
How should Christians respond when others face disaster? What should they say? What shouldn't they say?
Earlier in the summer, I had the chance to meet a family that was in the process of moving to China. Among other things they wanted to know about resources to help their young children learn Chinese.
In the “Teaching across Cultures” class I took last month with Dr. Craig Ott, he had us read The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why by Richard Nisbett. The crux of the book’s argument is that Westerners and Asians think differently because of their different ancient roots.
'China has conquered Kenya': Inside Beijing's new strategy to win African hearts and minds (August 7, 2017, The Los Angeles Times)
As a digital infrastructure provider, StarTimes is helping African states transition from analog television — a technology akin to FM radio, rife with snow, static and dropped signals — to digital, which ensures high-quality image and sound. As a pay-TV company, it is stacking its networks with pro-China broadcasts. As both, it is materially improving the lives of countless Africans, then making China’s role in those improvements impossible to ignore.
Surveying China’s extraordinary rise over the past decade, Graham Allison, in his book Destined for War, paraphrases former Czech President Vaclav Havel when he says, “It has happened so quickly, we have not yet had time to be astonished.”
A remarkable church building project in Ningbo, China.
When I was living in China, newcomers, especially those who had been around for a few weeks or months and had started to pick up some new words and phrases, would often ask me, “what does ju (or some other word) mean?”
A documentary exploring the lives of some of China's "little people" living and working at a theme park in Yunnan.
The Elderly Are Becoming the New Self-Governing Subjects in China (August 2, 2017, China Policy Institute)
Senior citizens, now retired from decades of public and productive life contributing to the nation’s GDP and nation-building, are now private citizens with ageing bodies and often declining health. […] This shift of their social identity from productive worker to individual consumer puts elderly individuals in China at a moral and ethical crossroads, caught between traditional, family-oriented values of personal sacrifice and new individualistic practices.
A fundamental question for Christians in China—who will lead the Chinese church of the future.
In June, video footage of a tragic traffic accident surfaced online, once again prompting questions of morality in Chinese society by Chinese netizens. The incident occurred on April 21 in Zhumadian, Henan province. The video shows a woman who was blindsided by one car while crossing the street and left there by pedestrians. Several people and several cars pass through the intersection without stopping to help. Sadly, the woman is struck again by another car and killed. In this article from the journal Territory, Pastor An analyzes the incident and comments that a cold wave of self-righteousness has swept through Chinese society and says, “what we need is a higher righteousness” to counter this wave of self-righteousness.
Learning Chinese is a big task, but learning how to use the language to accomplish simple, everyday tasks is not. You may never, like Matteo Ricci, translate Chinese classics or write books in Chinese yourself. But even Ricci had to start with the basics, learning the sounds, the tones, and the simple vocabulary to accomplish the stuff of everyday life.
The 2015 Survey on the Current Situation and Future Prospects for the Church in China, undertaken by the China Gospel Research Alliance, indicated that pastoring the next generation is a priority for Christian leaders in China. The needs of youth in China are great and the church in China must reach and minister to them or risk losing the next generation of believers—which will not just be the loss of individual believers but also the potential loss of Christian families and church leaders.
When a Catholic Chinese-American journalist discovers that her grandfather was a prominent Anglican church leader in China in the 1940s and that her granduncle was none other than the famous house church leader, Watchman Nee, she did what every good journalist does—she set out to tell the story.
No Man’s City – A Chinese Blogger’s Powerful Essay About The “Fake Lives” of Beijing Residents (July 26, 2017, What’s on Weibo)
An essay titled “Beijing Has 20 Million People Pretending to Live Here” by Chinese blogger Zhang Wumao (张五毛) has gone viral on Chinese social media, sparking wide debate on life in China’s capital. The essay describes how Beijing has changed into a city that is overrun by ‘outsiders’ and no longer belongs to the ‘old Beijingers.’ Chinese state media say the essay, which is now censored, polarizes the relations between Beijing’s locals and immigrants.
Following a rather chaotic start, the process of registering foreign entities under the Overseas NGO (ONGO) Law is getting underway, albeit slowly.
Christians in China today are able to share relatively easily about ministry on social media. Pastors’ personal blogs are one unique vantage point into church life in China. In this article, Chen Fengsheng, a Three-Self pastor in Wenzhou, provides budding pastors with timely advice on how to prepare for a healthy pastoral ministry. He gives “twenty realities” of ministry life that will help set up fresh seminary graduates for the pastorate.
The same difficulties that local churches in the west have had in sending out workers cross-culturally are being seen in Chinese churches as they send missionaries beyond their borders. Are mission-sending organiszations needed to minimize those difficulties?
The secret lives of Chinese missionaries in northern Iraq (July 16, 2017, South China Morning Post)
Used to persecution at home, two young Chinese Christians say life can be more peaceful in northern Iraq, where they work with Yazidi refugees.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending. In China, there are problems with current church-based mission-sending models. Mission-sending organizations can deal with many of the unmet needs of the Chinese missionary and facilitate missionary sending.
A genuine "must-read" for those seeking to understand the complexities of religious life in China today.
Recent research on church leaders in China conducted by ChinaSource and others revealed that one of their chief concerns is raising up the next generation. Youth ministry is still a relatively undeveloped area, but, as the quotes in this month's Lantern show, the needs are great. Please join us in praying for a breakthrough among China's young people.
In this short video profile, China Christian Daily sketches the work of Home of Hope, a Christian orphanage in Hebei province. The video gives a touching peek into one of the ways Chinese Christians impact society.
Pinyin is a system of writing the sounds of Chinese using English letters—an indispensable tool for learning to speak Chinese.
In China, the study of religion as an academic discipline has been gaining momentum in recent years. Centers and institutes for the study of religion have been established at numerous top-tier Chinese universities. As research on religion in China grows, indigenous theories regarding the role of religion in Chinese society and culture are also being constructed and debated. One theoretical framework of note is the “religious ecology” model.
China Tells Carriers to Block Access to Personal VPNs by February (July 10, 2017, Bloomberg)
Beijing has ordered state-run telecommunications firms, which include China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, to bar people from using VPNs, services that skirt censorship restrictions by routing web traffic abroad, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about private government directives.
A recent Chinese Church Voices post featured one Chinese believer’s reflections on several related decisions she had made in her struggle to live out an authentic faith. Each decision involved saying “no” to the prevailing social norms, putting the author, Wei Chen, at odds with the expectations of co-workers, family, and even her fellow Christians. While Wei posed her decisions in the negative, they together represent a positive affirmation of the counter-cultural values to which many Christians in China aspire.
Last week we posted the first part of an article from Territory about the entrance of the “death game” Blue Whale into China and its effect on teens in China. Part one detailed the workings of the game. The second part describes a Chinese Christian’s response to the game and the gospel’s message of hope for teens in China. This is part two.
If you are going to learn Chinese, you first have to know what it is, or it least what it's called.
Another favorite film from the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
China, House Churches, and the Growth of the Kingdom (June 29, 2017, Christianity Today)
What goes on in China matters to the Church worldwide; soon, it will be the country with the largest Christian population and, in time, it might have the world’s largest missionary force. When Jesus said He would build His Church, He surely had China in mind.
A ChinaSource "3 Questions" interview with Kärin Butler Primuth, CEO of visionSynergy, discussing the characteristics of high-impact networks.
Chinese news sources report that teens in China have fallen victim to a social media “death game” that has its origins in Russia. This game preys on teens who suffer from depression and encourages them to commit suicide. Through threats and blackmail, teens are progressively drawn closer to danger.
The Christian journal Territory recently detailed the dark workings of the death game. The author of the article, A Qian, writes of his own experience with depression and how his faith played an instrumental role in understanding his depression. A Qian describes from a Chinese Christian perspective how the Christian faith provides good news and counters the dark hopelessness of the death game, particularly for Chinese teens.
Were you hopeful or pessimistic about Hong Kong's future in 1997? How do you feel now on the 20th anniversary of the handover?
A new resource on contextualization, honor, and shame from Jackson Wu.
Is a Buddhist Group Changing China? Or Is China Changing It? (June 24, 2017, The New York Times)
Across China, millions of people like Ms. Shen have begun participating in faith-based organizations like Fo Guang Shan. They aim to fill what they see as a moral vacuum left by attacks on traditional values over the past century, especially under Mao, and the nation’s embrace of a cutthroat form of capitalism.
We talk a lot about the massive urbanization that has taken place in China since the 1980s but what does it look like?
Some of China’s most famous universities and hospitals were founded by Christian missionaries. Take a quick tour around some of the historic Christian sites in the southern city of Hangzhou with this article from Gospel Times. Once thriving with Christian presence, Hangzhou is a city where its past continues to come alive today.
When I wrote China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot be Hidden, it was with the conviction that massive urbanization in China had significant implications for China’s church. The emergence of a new kind of church in the city was not merely an extension of the experience of China’s primarily rural house church movements or of churches affiliated with the TSPM. Rather, a fresh set of dynamics was impacting the development of China’s newly forming urban Christian communities.
The latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, with its theme of urban church theology, delves into these dynamics. Guest editors Mary Ma and LI Jin have pulled together an impressively well-rounded look at the increasingly complex urban church environment.
China, Where the Pressure to Marry Is Strong, and the Advice Flows Online (June 18, 2017, The New York Times)
Although women in their 20s are greatly outnumbered by men in the same age group in China, a product in part of the since-abandoned one-child family policy and a cultural preference for sons, they face enormous pressure to marry. Those who do not have a husband by the age of 27 are routinely branded as “leftover women,” with diminishing value in the dating market.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Field research findings with Chinese missionaries and with prospective Chinese medical missionaries highlight issues related to the needs of the Chinese missionary’s nuclear family. Although mission-sending organizations can help, much of the impetus for resolving difficulties faced by the Chinese missionary’s spouse and children must come from the Chinese missionaries themselves.
May was a busy month for the ChinaSource team, as several of us were involved in conferences in Asia and elsewhere. Here are some snapshots of how we witnessed the Lord working in the midst of these events.
Reflecting on the deaths of two Chinese missionaries to Pakistan.
News of two Chinese Christians killed in Pakistan last week by ISIS shocked many Chinese Christians. On Chinese social media channels, bloggers have offered their prayers for the two martyrs and have tried to piece together exactly what happened. Lots of confusion surrounded the events. Details are still forthcoming.
After defining “new media” and what it encompasses, An looks at the various ways the church in China views it, what it means for the church, and how it can affect the church. He then gives some thoughts on how the church should deal with it—not only the challenges it brings, but how it can be used positively.
After having been the only child for many years, my parents finally brought home a tiny bundle—my very own baby sibling. While many would celebrate the arrival of another member to the family, that special day was instead laced with disappointment for my father. I found out much later that my mother went into labor before my father got to the hospital. When he finally arrived, he took a look at the baby, uttered in dismay, “Another girl,” and walked off.
Items requiring your intercession.
The guest editors' point of view . . .
China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden by Brent Fulton
Reviewed by Li Jin
Due to urbanization and social change, China’s churches look different today than they did a number of years ago. Urban churches, with unusual diversity, now comprise a major part of Chinese Christianity. Fulton identifies many of the changes the church has experienced that now characterize it and discusses challenges it faces in current society.
An interview by Dr. Mary Ma with the minister of a migrant worker’s urban church which identifies a number of issues characteristic of urban churches comprised of migrant workers from rural areas. These concerns include living conditions, economic status, long work hours, mobility, and other factors that all contribute to the church’s spiritual health and stability.
Pastor Cui shares how his church has dealt with a growing congregation and the need for room by adopting a “big church, small congregations” model. He explains this concept and details the benefits this model has brought to the church, the pastors, and the congregations.
As China becomes increasingly urbanized, an urban theology for ministry is needed. As modern man finds himself slowly enmeshed in urban living, he experiences materialism, relativism, and an increasingly segmented society. He questions what is real and true, and who God is. These questions can become points of contact for urban ministry. Dr. Ma provides some guidelines for forming an urban theology for ministry in urban China.
A look at the affects of affluence on American society with a view to better understanding what is happening in China today.
The author sees two major categories of urban churches in China that are experiencing transformation and goes on to discuss three main areas where he sees this transformation taking place. Viewing these changes as positive, he also believes they are growing stronger.
Father’s Day in China, like many other countries, falls on the third Sunday in June. It is not an official holiday in China, nor is it widely observed, especially in comparison to other similar holidays such as Mother’s Day and Children’s Day. Yet, for those working among Chinese (in any context) it does provide a unique opportunity to generate gospel-oriented discussion given the central theme of God the Father in the Bible.
Pakistan says slain Chinese misused business visas, were missionaries (June 13, 2017, CNN)
The man, 24, and woman, 26, killed were among a group of Chinese citizens who obtained a business visa from the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, the ministry statement said. Instead of doing business, it is alleged the pair went to the Pakistani city of Quetta and under the guise of learning Urdu from a Korean, they "engaged in preaching," the Pakistani statement said.
Reading Kathleen Lodwick’s How Christianity Came to China (Fortress Press 2016) was disturbing for two reasons.
Last week millions of Chinese high school students took the annual two-day college entrance exam know as, the gaokao. For these students and their families, much of their young lives have led up to this moment. Many of their future hopes and dreams also ride on their exam scores.
While stress ran high, Chen Fengsheng, a Three-Self pastor in Wenzhou, offered this prayer for the gaokao season.
Last week Brent wrote about a Christian serving among China’s Muslims who joined in the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. Given the fact that we are now at the halfway point of the month of fasting, I thought it would be a good time to highlight some recent articles and resources about Islam in China.
The film Beijing Taxi, directed by Miao Wang, a Beijing native who immigrated to the US in 1990, begins two years before the Olympics and follows the lives of three taxi drivers. Each of them shares their own perspective on Beijing’s transformation, China’s rise, and most importantly, what it all means to them. Is China hosting the Olympics really all the glitz and glory that it was dreamed to be? What price economic growth and development?
Chinese City With a Russian Past Struggles to Preserve Its Legacy (June 4, 2017, The New York Times)
The making of Harbin is like no other Chinese city. In 1898, Russian engineers and workers from both Russia and China came to build the Chinese Eastern Railway. They were soon followed by Russian Jews fleeing pogroms, and then aristocrats driven out by the Bolshevik Revolution and White Russian troops seeking refuge after defeat in civil war.
Last year, in order to better understand those whom he has been called to serve, Pastor Mark, a Chinese Christian, joined in the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. He learned some unexpected lessons.
One of the growing challenges for the contemporary church in China is the swelling tide of secularism. Several Chinese Christians shared this concern with us in conversations at the Reformation 500 and the Gospel conference in Hong Kong last month. China’s increasing affluence provides society with opportunities, but also ever-morphing ideals. New and shifting norms for marriage, worklife and careers, parenting, and education confront Christians in subtle ways that more visible challenges (e.g. arrests, lack of resources, funding, etc.) have not.
In this blog post, originally posted by Oak Tree Publishing, Wei Chen shares the personal sacrifices she and her family have made in the face of secular values. She describes the troubling expectations of society on her and her family, and how her Christian faith pushed her to say “No!” to following along with the secular norms.
Our friends at The Gospel Coalition recently asked me to review Ian Johnson’s book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. Last week, it was published under the title "China’s God-Shaped Vacuum."
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.
China in Our Midst: Reaching Chinese International Students in America by Glen Osborn and Daniel Su of China Outreach Ministries (COM) 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.
While the rest of the world tries to “kill email,” in China, it’s always been dead (May 28, 2017, Quartz)
In many parts of the world, email remains deathless—a relic of the desktop-era internet, before mobile and social media were on the landscape. It’s a convention: You can’t not have an email address. In China however, email never reached the ubiquity it has in other countries. Most Chinese consumers, if they have an email address, seldom use it. Chat, instead, remains the preferred method of communication–between friends, families, colleagues, business partners, and even strangers.
What are people saying about China's new Overseas NGO Law?
Last week we posted the second part of an article from ChurchChina about the impact of Reformed theology on evangelism in “Y Church.” Part one discussed the current situation of Y Church. The second part described in more detail how the research findings describe the impact of Reformed theology on Y Church’s evangelism. The third part gives recommendations for Y Church’s evangelism. This is part three.
This week ChinaSource is launching a China ministries cohort at Missio Nexus. It will be a place where those serving in China-related ministries can gather to discuss issues relevant to our work. Come join us!
We caught up with our friend Jackson Wu at the Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong and asked him to share his reflections on the conference.
What I Learned From Two Years Traveling China's Belt And Road (May 22, 2017, Forbes)
The markets of Europe and Asia are being drawn more closely together via an array of enhanced land and sea trade routes that are part of a multinational, multi-faceted development that has been vaguely dubbed the New Silk Road.
In response to the uncertainties resulting from China's new Overseas NGO Law, we've created the ChinaSource Law and Policy Monitor. Here we introduce this new service and explain how organizations can sample the Monitor while helping ChinaSource in its efforts to understand how the law is impacting those who serve.
At the Reformation500 Conference in Hong Kong, we have had the opportunity to chat with believers from around the country about various topics. One of the questions we have been asking is this: What are the key challenges facing believers in China today?
Singing together with 3000 believers—The Church's One Foundation!
Last week we posted the first part of an article from ChurchChina about the impact of Reformed theology on evangelism in “Y Church.” Part one discussed the current situation of Y Church. The second part describes in more detail how the research findings reveal the impact of Reformed theology on Y Church’s evangelism. The third part will give recommendations for Y Church’s evangelism efforts. This is part two.
An update on successful registrations under the new Overseas NGO Law and an invitation to join us at the Reformation 500 conference in Hong Kong.
The Chinese church is vibrant and has growing passion to participate in missionary sending through undertakings like the Back to Jerusalem (BTJ) movement and the Indigenous Mission Movement from China (IMM China). Chinese Christians feel God calling them to long-term mission service. The principal factor encouraging them to long-term sustainable service is calling.
How Chinese Couples Became Wedded to the Perfect Picture (May 11, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Known in Chinese as hunsha zhao, which literally translates as “bridal dress photographs,” this style of wedding photography in China generally does not take place at the wedding itself, where there is usually a cheaper run-of-the-mill photographer arranged by the venue or the wedding planner. In the case of Qian and Pan, the real wedding photos were taken a whole six months before the ceremony.
Understanding Chinese missionary perspectives on calling enables a clearer view of the foundations of the Chinese missionary undertaking. The Chinese missionary call is deeply rooted in a personal relationship with God. Despite personal loss or suffering, Chinese missionaries experience a joy that is centered in knowing Christ.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Werner Mischke, author of The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World and coordinator for “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry,” to be held June 19-21 in Wheaton, Illinois.
A growing movement of churches attracted to the Reformed faith is gaining steam in China. Although still comparatively small in number, these churches and several of their prominent leaders are gaining influence among Christians across China. This article, originally published in the journal ChurchChina, provides hard data on how Reformed theology has impacted the evangelistic efforts and gospel understanding of one church in Anhui province. This case study seeks to answer the question: How has Reformed theology impacted the spread of the gospel in “Y” Church?
Recently China Internet Watch produced a white paper on the Chinese Internet, titled “China Internet Statistics 2017.” The information and charts are based on the semi-annual report published in December 2016 by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
Mothers are celebrated on many different days around the world. In every month of the year, except January and September, Mother’s Day—or Mothering Sunday in the UK—is celebrated in some country somewhere in the world. In many countries, including China, mothers are celebrated on the second Sunday of May.
Sing the national anthem, says China - but only at this speed (May 9, 2017, Sky News)
China has already banned its national anthem from being belted out at weddings and funerals – but now, even more restrictions are on the way. A law is being prepared to set the tempo at which the ballad should be played and sung, with consequences for those who put the anthem in a "damaging situation".
How do we respond to the trends impacting foreign Christians in China? What questions do we need to ask?
Last week we posted the first part of an article from Territory about the Baoti Cornerstone Choir. The first part of the article interviewed the choir’s director, Huang Bo about his conversion to Christianity and subsequent call to start a gospel choir in Xiamen. This week in part two we see how Huang has led members of the team to grow both in their performance skills and in their faith.
I have been to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region twice. The first time was in 1992; a teammate and I took the train. Back then it was a journey that took two days and three nights; today the fastest train makes the journey in 30 hours. On my second visit to Urumqi (in 2004) I also travelled by train, but from the southern Xinjiang city of Kashgar. That was a 24-hour run along the edge of the Taklimakan Desert.
The film, Stonehead, is set in a small village in China where children, the "left-behind children," are raised by their grandparents because their parents have all moved to urban cities for better jobs. The story centers around three main characters who, even though it’s never clearly stated, each represent a different way left-behind children cope with their family situations. But the film also speaks more widely about the coping mechanisms used by people thoughout Chinese society today.
Green Train Blues (April 30, 2017, The World of Chinese)
Gubeikou is just 140 kilometers northeast of Beijing, but we’ve been on the road since 9 in the morning. That’s an average speed of 25 kilometers an hour, one-fourteenth the speed of the Chinese rail system’s showpiece high-speed rail. Dubbed “green-skin trains” (绿皮火车) for their iconic forest green livery and yellow trim, trains like 4471 are, unsurprisingly, living on borrowed time in a country for which rail infrastructure has long been a matter of national pride.
The final article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
An interview with Huang Bo and members of the Baoti Cornerstone Choir.
Going to China this summer? Here are tips for preparing well for your trip.
Read Frog with care, pray for those seeking Truth in a troubled, chaotic culture, and celebrate Mo Yan’s genius.
Ten Questions That EVERY Expat (or Repat) Parent Should Ask About Their Kids (April 20, 2017, The Culture Blend)
I love what my kids are getting out of this experience. I love what is being built into them. I love who they are becoming . . . but I’m not an idiot. This is hard. It’s hard for us and it’s hard for them. So as a parent I want to be in touch with the realities — the specific realities, good and bad — of who my kids are and what they are going through.
The sixth article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
Many hospitals in Chinese cities, particularly along the coasts or along the Yangtze River, were originally founded by western missionaries. After the missionaries left in the 1950s the hospitals were nationalized and, in many cases, became the leading hospitals in the community. They serve as important and interesting legacies of the work of the missionaries. Recently the Gospel Times published an article about one such hospital in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, founded more than 100 years ago by Methodist Episcopal missionaries.
According to Dictionary.com, a Sinophile is “a person who admires or has a strong liking for China, the Chinese, or their culture.” After 25+ years in China, I guess I qualify; and I’m guessing that readers of this blog do as well.
In addition to my own experiences of living in China, books have played a major part in helping me understand China.
For a missionary, raising support is no easy task. When we were preparing for our first term of service, I wasn’t sure how we were ever going to raise the required budget. But for Chinese missionaries, the task is even harder. Coming from a culture that is not accustomed to supporting missionaries, obtaining financial backing is an uphill struggle.
American students lose interest in China studies (April 15, 2017, Nikkei Asian Review)
Though China looms ever larger in U.S. economic and security concerns, American universities are experiencing a decline in the enrollment in Chinese language courses and study abroad programs. The growing sense that work opportunities in China are harder to come by is compounding worries about pollution and other living conditions.
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending. A study performed with long-term Chinese missionaries reveals four main current sources of support for Chinese mission activity. Common methods of missionary fund-raising are examined and frequently encountered fund-raising difficulties are reviewed. The Chinese church has difficulty financially supporting mission service and at the current time alternative strategies for Chinese missionary funding are still needed.
In the current policy environment, it’s no longer “business as usual” for faith-based organizations serving in China. Legal changes call into question the viability of some ministries. Others are finding ways within the new laws to continue serving. ChinaSource is watching the situation closely as we provide counsel to organizations dealing with these changes.
The fifth article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
Earlier this month we posted the first part of an article from Territory about a Chinese missionary’s call to Nepal. The first part of the article discussed the author’s struggles amid social pressures in China. As the Chinese church increasingly looks outside of China’s borders to engage in ministry this article provides insight into what factored into one Chinese missionary’s call to foreign missions. This week in part two we see how his struggles influenced his call to ministry, as well as the lessons he learned about foreign missions and about himself while in Nepal.
A painless way to learn about the early history of Christianity in China—listen to The China History Podcast!
It has been 308 days since we left China and landed in the good ol’ USA. You would think that would be plenty of time to have made the transition back to our home state of Indiana, but we’re still definitely in transition mode.
Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu (April 11, 2017, NPR)
This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. That worries lab director Guan Yi. But what disturbs him more is how fast this strain is evolving. "We're trying our best, but we still can't control this virus," says Guan. "It's too late for us to eradicate it."
The fourth article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
A response to "Have We Failed Returnee Christians?"
Anyone who has spent time teaching English in China will no doubt be familiar with English Corners. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are a staple of life for teachers of English.
Daxing Bootcamp, located in the suburbs of Beijing, is probably a place you've never heard of. But growing numbers of parents in China who are at wits’ end have heard of it or of the 400 rehabilitation camps like it. The government has set up the centers to treat teenagers with internet addiction disorder. Web Junkie takes us inside Daxing Bootcamp and introduces us to three of the young men who are treated there.
Finding My Roots Deep in Rural China (March 31, 2017, Sixth Tone)
Although I was born in China, I have been molded by the United States. The country gave me the chance to think and feel like an American. Here, I was taught to be curious; I learned that asking questions is often more fulfilling than knowing all the answers. Here, I fell in and out of love for the first time. And here, I became a person with two identies. Yes, I was “Americanized,” but I was also very attached to my Chinese roots.
The third article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
What is it like for Chinese Christians to engage in cross-cultural missions outside of China? An increasing number of Chinese Christians have the opportunity to serve short-term abroad. Their experiences abroad offer valuable lessons for future indigenous mission efforts by the Chinese church. In this interview, translated from Territory, the author testifies to God's hand in the "twists and turns" of his life. His testimony gives a look into the heart and mind of a Chinese Christian and the spiritual renewal and transformation he undergoes while living, serving, and sharing the gospel abroad. This is part one.
In the 2017 spring edition of the ChinaSource Quarterly, published last month, we highlighted survey results of Christian workers in China (local and foreign). The research project was carried out by the China Gospel Research Alliance, made up of representatives from OMF, Frontier Ventures, Open Doors, and ChinaSource. The CGRA partnered with Global Mapping International (GMI) to produce this handy infographic portraying the key findings in the survey.
The growth of the Chinese church over the past several decades cannot be overstated. What the Lord has accomplished is truly beyond anything we could have ever asked or imagined.
Young, Restless, and Reformed in China (March 27, 2017, The Gospel Coalition)
Chinese church leaders are writing books of church order. They’re organizing into networks. They’re starting Christian grade schools and seminaries. They’re reading everything they can get their hands on, buying out Reformed authors at bookstores and heading to Reformed websites. And some are also stumbling, passing quick judgment on those who aren’t five-pointers. Some are proud. A number are splitting up congregations. In many ways, Reformed theology in China looks like a newborn colt attempting that first walk—eager, stumbling, up and down and up again.
The second article in a series by Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
Do Chinese parents and pastors need to rethink how they raise their youth in the faith? In this article, originally posted on at Gospel Times, a pastor encourages believers to challenge traditional views of ministry to youth. The pastor sketches modern challenges to youth ministry and then offers practical recommendations for ministry workers.
One of the striking things about the coastal city of Qingdao is the surviving European feel of much of the older sections of town. Qingdao was a German colony from 1898 to 1914, and unlike most other cities that had once been under colonial rule, the old European zone was not razed.
Shortly after we moved back to the States after living in Asia for many years, a Chinese researcher from a major university in China approached us asking if he could spend his last month in the US living with us. It wasn’t that his lease had expired or his stipend was running low. Rather, he realized that although he had lived in the American Midwest for a year doing research at a well-respected American university—he had experienced very little of American life and had very few non-Chinese friends.
Alienation 101 (April/May, 2017, 1843 Magazine)
The Chinese population is so large that it forms a separate world. Many Chinese speak only Mandarin, study only with other Chinese, attend only Chinese-organised events – and show off luxury cars in Chinese-only auto clubs. The Chinese government and Christian groups may vie for their hearts and minds. But few others show much interest, and most Chinese students end up floating in a bubble disconnected from the very educational realms they had hoped to inhabit. “It takes a lot of courage to go out of your comfort zone,” Sophie says. “And a lot of students on both sides never even try.”
For the past two years ChinaSource has been part of a research initiative aimed at better understanding how Chinese believers view their current situation and their relationship to the global church. We are pleased to present some of the findings in the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly.
A new series from Brent Fulton exploring seven trends that are impacting the way foreign Christians can effectively serve in China.
Chinese Christians have traditionally expected their pastors to live frugally and to receive little to no compensation for their pastoral duties. It was expected that those in the ministry would endure much suffering as a result of their call to ministry. As a result, some pastors and ministry staff live on quite meager means and many are bi-vocational in order to make ends meet.
As China modernizes, many congregations, particularly urban churches, recognize a need to better financially care for their pastors, as well as to invest in the well-being of the congregation as a whole. Congregations are starting to see the health of a church improve when the entire body is spiritually and financially committed to compensating their ministry staff. So, how much should a pastor in China make?
A sneak peek at longtime China journalist Ian Johnson soon-to-be-released new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao. A must-read for those who want to deepen their understanding of Chinese culture and religious life.
Is persecution in China increasing? Two house church leaders, one who was imprisoned in a labor camp for a few years, and the other who is a Chinese scholar with strengths in theological education and the history of the Chinese church, give their viewpoints on this topic.
An infographic for understanding the needs and perspectives of the 1,200 Chinese church leaders voiced in the 2016 survey of the China Gospel Research Alliance.
A recent survey of Christian leaders in China and representatives of churches and organizations outside China that work with these leaders provides insight into the health of China’s churches and their ministry priorities. It also looks at their involvement in society and mission outreach. In addition, participants were surveyed regarding restrictions they had experienced due to religious policy.
The editor's perspective . . .
A review of Christ in China: An Anthology by Ronald Boyd-MacMillan
In appreciation of Tony and Frances Lambert’s 34 years of faithful service, OMF-Hong Kong has published an anthology of forty-six of Tony’s monthly analyses of the story of Christianity in China. Written between the years 1987 to 2016, these articles cover aspects of the greatest revival story of the world church of the past 50 years, as well as selections that give unique slants on the contemporary story.
A conversation between two friends, one an overseas Chinese woman and the other from mainland China who has studied overseas, centers around the cultural gap between believers in China and those who come from overseas to help them. Mistaken perceptions, communication issues, and the importance of relationships are discussed.
Items requiring your intercession.
China’s churches desire partnerships with overseas entities. However, as the church has become increasingly urban, the nature of those partnerships must change in response to the changes occurring in society and thus, in the church. Overseas organizations must understand these changes and consider carefully how they can best partner with the church in China.
China’s elderly population is burgeoning and the question becomes, “Who will care for them?” Families are finding this difficult, and neither the government nor society are currently prepared to provide the resources needed to address this. However, China’s Christian community has several advantages that would allow them to meet this need. Urban Christians could care for the elderly in their midst and also offer a service to the larger community which would enhance the church’s standing in society.
When I first went overseas, I thought things like medical insurance and retirement planning weren’t too important. Further, as funding for those two items added to the overall budget and that budget needed to be raised through supporters I personally contacted, I felt that these items were excessive. It seemed to me at the time that these items only delayed my matriculation to the field and added to the church’s financial burden in sending me and my family. I reasoned that God would take care of us anyway. Twenty years later, with retirement age nearing, (which won’t necessarily cause me to retire), I am grateful for the foresight of organizational leadership. And with my family members needing multiple previously unforeseen surgeries, I am grateful for the care we have received.
Living loud in China's lively public spaces (March 11, 2017, BBC)
This country that I love is many things, but quiet is not one of them. There are plenty of bustling cities - rammed with millions of people - where you could be frowned upon for disrupting others with a raised voice: Seoul, London, Tokyo… especially Tokyo. China does not have those cities.
Financial issues significantly impact Chinese missionary-sending sustainability. For those Chinese physicians with mission field experience, greater degrees of field experience correlate with a greater ascribed degree of importance placed on these financial issues. Currently prospective Chinese medical missionary financial expectations are high. These expectations do not necessarily match with the lived reality of Chinese non-medical missionaries. Financial support models which can facilitate sending of Chinese missionary physicians need development.
News that nearly three dozen foreign NGOs had successfully registered under the new Overseas NGO Law sounded an optimistic note for organizations working in China. Yet, as a recent article in The Diplomat points out, this apparent gain for the overseas NGO community masks the greater realities facing foreign groups as they weigh their options under the new law.
Can Christians join the Communist Party? Should Christians join the Communist Party? These questions were posted online recently by a Chinese Christian on Zhihu, China’s version of Quora (a question and answer website). The questions sparked chatter among the online Christian community and also prompted a response from the official social media account of the Communist Youth League of China.
On March 5, Premier Li Keqiang delivered the 2016 government work report at the opening session of the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing. As government work reports go, it follows a very strict script: listing of all the glorious accomplishments of the past year and then setting forth all the glorious things that the government will accomplish this year. And of course it has all happened under the glorious leadership of the Communist Party with Chairman Xi Jinping as the core.
The Choice—A short and straightforward read with one profound insight at its core. . .
The Rasping on the Radio (March 2, 2017, The World of Chinese)
That’s right: once you’ve ridden with the radio-fanatic taxi driver enough, you may start to recognize certain voices. One in particular is an older-sounding man whose sandpapery tones seem to come from the depths of his acerbic, somewhat excitable soul. This is Shan Tianfang (单田芳), one of China’s pre-eminent artists in an ancient performing arts genre called pingshu (评书), which literally means “commenting on the book” but is usually referred to as “oral storytelling.”
Four ways a lawyer can help register your overseas NGO in China.
Last week we posted the first part of an article about returnee Christians who fall away from the church that was originally published on the blog The Gift of the Magi. The article discusses how Chinese living abroad come to Christianity but struggle to remain in the church after they return to China. Part one focused more on the overseas church, while part two looks closely at the church in mainland China. This week we post part two of the article with Chinese readers’ comments from the original blog.
Developments in China over the past two decades have created the conditions for unprecedented collaboration between Chinese Christians and those from outside the country. With increased collaboration, however, has come more opportunities for miscommunication and missteps as Chinese and foreign believers attempt to work together. This spring in ChinaSource Quarterly we will take an in-depth look at the state of this collaboration, drawing upon newly available research on Christian leaders in China and those from outside China who serve with them.
“Earthquake in China” Whenever these words are heard, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the devastation in Sichuan province that took place in 2008. But for those who are old enough to have been around for it, they’ll also think of the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. The magnitude 7.5 quake claimed the lives of 240,000 people who lived in the industrial city of Tangshan, located 140 kilometers away from Beijing. This tragic event in history is the starting point in director Feng Xiaogang’s film Aftershock.
Focusing on religious oppression in China misses the big picture (February 28, 2017, CNN)
Protestantism is booming and Chinese cities are full of unregistered (also called "underground" or "house") churches. These are known to the government but still allowed to function. They attract some of the best-educated and successful people in China. And they are socially engaged, with outreach programs to the homeless, orphanages, and even families of political prisoners. To me, this is an amazing story and far outweighs the cross-removal campaign, which basically ended and seems to have had no lasting consequences.
An excerpt from ChinaSource Law and Policy Monitor, part of a new package of services aimed at assisting faith-based organizations as they deal with the implications of the Overseas NGO Law and related policy developments.
The number of Chinese Christians continues to grow, both inside and outside of China. As large numbers of Chinese move and travel abroad, particularly to the West, many encounter Christianity for the first time. Many of these Chinese come to faith while abroad. After living abroad, Chinese Christians often have trouble transitioning into church life once they return to China. Their experience of the overseas church is often dramatically different from their experiences in Chinese churches. Brother Sang Shang, a returnee himself, highlights the difficulties returnee Christians face when they return to China.
According to the Institute of International Education, there were 328,547 students from China in colleges and universities throughout the United States in 2016. This includes those enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and “optional practical training” programs. But it’s not just higher education institutions where Chinese students are found; increasing numbers are now enrolled in high schools. The Institute of International Education reported that in 2013, there were more than 23,000 Chinese students enrolled in secondary schools in the US.
For new cross-cultural workers, Tabor Laughlin’s Becoming Native to Win the Natives is a must read. His book has the rare combination of being practical, relevant, and readable.
After being James, Peter, and William, I decided to stick with my Chinese name (February 14, 2017, Quartz)
Should Chinese people adopt English first names when interacting with Westerners? The benefits of doing so are obvious. Going by a conventional English name—but not weird names like “Candy,” “Promise” or “Devil“—makes everyone’s life easier. But my experiences studying and working in English-speaking multicultural environments in the past few years have made me realize that sticking to your Chinese name is better if you want foreigners to know who you are—and if you want to feel good about yourself.
Even though there was no law governing their operation in China until January 1, foreign NGOs have been operating in China for quite some time. Typically, they were either registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs or operated with the approval of provincial or local officials. The new law now requires all NGOs to register with the Ministry of Public Security.
A note from the director of ChinaSource Institute . . .
China’s economic boom has turned the country seemingly overnight from a largely rural based population into a majority urban-based society. Migrant workers from the countryside, including many Christian migrants, have flocked to urban areas in search of better economic prospects. Urban populations have swelled, but so have tensions. Migrants lack access to public services and are often regarded by city residents as inferior. Yet, most city residents acknowledge city life would largely come to a halt without migrant labor. The following article is a helpful peek into how the church can respond to China’s urbanization.
Questions for those who are working themselves out of a job, or for those who should be . . .
Chinese children generally want to please their parents. Traditional Chinese culture encourages this, and those children who fall outside of this cultural norm may even be looked down upon by their peers. So what do Chinese Christians do if they want to become missionaries? How can they blend their responsibilities toward parents with the calling they feel from God to go to a foreign country to share the gospel?
The Chinese church passionately desires participation in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Nevertheless Chinese missionary attrition rates are high. A study performed using interviews with long-term Chinese missionaries and focus groups with short-term Chinese medical missionaries revealed several factors related to missionary attrition. This article examines the role of one of those factors—parent and extended family issues—and offers suggestions for resolving difficulties.
How Spring Festival is being redefined? (February 13, 2017, China Daily)
For most Chinese, the weekend's Lantern Festival signaled the end of this year's Spring Festival and the return to real life and work in the new year. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated at home with family. Fireworks and the giving of red packets make it the happiest time of year for children. However, modern lifestyles are rewriting how many Chinese celebrate this most important festival.
Earlier this month I wrote a post on the “why” behind China’s new overseas NGO law, which put the law into the larger political context of China. For a closer look at how the law was actually formulated, I recommend Shawn Shieh’s excellent piece, “The Origins of China’s New Law on Foreign NGOs,” which traces the evolution of NGO policy from the late 1980s up to the present.
Pastoral ministry is typically not a desired vocation among Chinese Christians. Although pastors in China are revered for their rich spiritual gifts and selfless service to the church, pastoral ministry itself is poor, lonely, and draining. In this article from Green Olive Books, the author, a layperson, highlights the difficulties of being a pastor in China, as well as the need for Chinese Christians to better support their pastors.
When I was living in Changchun in the 1990s, as the city was beginning to shed the past and put on a modern skin, I often wondered what it would look like twenty years hence. This video answers the question.
Shanghai’s Peace Old Jazz Band is said to be "the oldest jazz band in the world.” The members of the band, aged between 65 and 87 years of age, have been playing together at Shanghai’s Peace Hotel nightly for over 30 years. This delightful documentary by German director, Uli Gaulke, features the six sprightly bandmates as they are invited to play at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands—the biggest show of their careers!
Chinese Converted out West Are Losing Faith Back Home (January 26, 2017, Foreign Policy)
Yet large numbers of converts give up after coming back to China. Volunteers and missionary staff who have worked for years with Chinese students in the United States estimate that 80 percent of believers eventually stop going to church after returning home. It generally takes time for returnees to find their places again in a country still searching for rules and norms to match its rapid economic and social changes.
Since the implementation of the new Overseas NGO Law on January 1, overseas organizations that work in/with/for China have been in varying degrees of panic. Maybe this is you, and you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with trying to interpret the new law as it applies to your specific situation, let alone embarking on the steps necessary to become legitimized. We're here to help!
Late last year, a Christian crowdfunding drive made headlines and sparked controversy on Chinese social media. Luo Er, the father of a five-year-old girl with leukemia, posted an article online in which he vented his frustration at God. Luo demanded that Jesus heal his daughter otherwise he would stop believing in him. Thousands of people read the article and donated over 2 million RMB ($290,000USD) to help pay for the medical expenses of the family. Tragically, Luo’s daughter died shortly after Luo started the campaign. Luo was later arrested for fraud and fined. Chinese Christians have hotly debated the incident, many questioning Luo’s intentions and asking how Christians should respond in the midst of such suffering. One response to these questions of suffering comes from a writer for OC Gospel. “Rachel” reflects on the Luo incident by remembering another tragic story of Christian suffering.
The religious climate in China, especially for Christians, may be messy but it’s not beyond understanding. This course, "The Church in China Today," offers a comprehensive overview of the church in China, ranging from a historical understanding of how far the church has come, to the struggles it endures in present day, to common misconceptions about the state of the church.
As part of the ChinaSource Institute’s ongoing effort to provide resources for those serving in China, we are pleased to announce our latest online course, “The Church in China Today.”
My neighborhood—most of my city, actually—is currently undergoing a dramatic change, the likes of which I have not seen in my two decades of residency. I first began to notice that something different was occurring in the autumn of last year, but in recent weeks the transformation has become undeniable and unavoidable. Its duration and its effects on the local population remain to be seen.
It's Lunar New Year, and China's Young People Are Sick and Tired of It (January 29, 2017, Global Voices)
However, the traveling trend has shifted slightly in recent years, as more and more people decide to travel abroad during the holiday, in order to avoid seeing relatives altogether. Among the younger generation in particular, many find the Near Year's greetings and conversation among extended family members about their marriage and income status to be annoying.
With the implementation of the new Overseas NGO Law it is imperative that organizations engaged in China become familiar with the provisions of the legislation, along with subsequent documents and pronouncements that continue to provide clues as to how the law is actually being carried out.
Earlier this month we posted the first part of an article of reflections on pollution in China that was published in the journal Territory. The focus of the article is how Chinese Christians reflect on the recent waves of heavy pollution in north China. This week we post the rest of the reflections.
Today is chu-san, the third day of the new lunar year. China is essentially closed since everyone gets at least a 7-day holiday and many will be gone from their jobs or schools for a month or more. To give you a feel for how the holiday is being celebrated, here’s a round-up of some interesting articles that have been published recently.
Faithful cross-cultural service requires at least some understanding of the local context. During my years in Shanxi I have invested a sizable portion of time and energy into helping my colleagues here—Chinese and expatriate—better understand local history, particularly as it pertains to ministry. I have been impressed over and over again by the striking degree to which the words and deeds of our spiritual ancestors relate directly to our present circumstances.
China cracks down on VPNs, making it harder to circumvent Great Firewall (Marcy 23, 2017, The Guardian)
The nation’s ministry of industry and information technology announced a 14-month “cleanup” of internet access services, including making it illegal to operate a local VPN service without government approval. VPN services use encryption to disguise internet traffic so that web surfers in China can access websites that are usually restricted or censored by the Great Firewall.
Over the past few months there have been numerous articles and posts written about the new Foreign NGO Law. We have been trying to keep you updated on new developments through this blog and ZGBriefs, but we thought it would be helpful to compile the resources (so far) in one place.
This week sees the arrival of Chinese New Year, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. Most of China will shut down for the week as people return to their ancestral homes to celebrate with family. For Chinese Christians, the holiday can often bring them mixed emotions: happiness and distress. Christians are excited to celebrate with family and friends. But, they also experience instances when their Christian faith rubs up against cultural expectations. In a society where Christianity often runs counter-cultural, Chinese New Year is a particularly concentrated moment of trials. In this translated article from Christian Times, the author reminds Christians of what is most important when they return home for the New Year.
What do “prehistoric powers,” “skinny blue mushroom,” “melon-eating masses,” and “chuanpu” have in common?
The church in China is in a period of incredible growth. Concurrent with this exponential numerical growth, Chinese Christians have developed a passionate interest in taking the gospel to parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe where relatively few Christians live scattered among two billion non-Christian people.
Have you rented a boyfriend for the Spring Festival? (January 18, 2017, China Daily)
The price of renting a boyfriend to take home with you is surging to as high as 1,500 yuan ($219) a day as Spring Festival approaches, chinanews.com reported on Wednesday. Some single women, who are pressured by their parents to marry, choose to rent a boyfriend for home to soften or dispel parents' dissatisfaction with their singledom. Catering to the market, men are advertising their availability at higher prices on social networking platforms.
The Chinese church has a growing passion to participate in missionary sending to unreached peoples. Nevertheless, previous studies have highlighted a lack of cultural awareness and linguistic ability among Chinese missionaries hindering missionary effectiveness. I recently conducted interviews with Chinese missionaries. Data from these interviews suggest that Chinese missionaries are being better trained and becoming increasingly adept at culturally contextualizing the gospel message. This kind of forward progress should be strongly encouraged.
The new Foreign NGO Law requires approval from a “Professional Supervisory Unit” or “Chinese Partner” in order to conduct activities in China. So what's the difference between them?
As the new year kicks off we’d like to suggest some additions to your 2017 reading list. Last year members of our team along with several of ChinaSource’s regular contributors were busy with book projects. Here we share some of the fruits of their labors. Each of the books presents a different perspective on China. Together they help fill out the very dynamic picture of what God is doing in China today.
As China moved from 2016 into 2017, a wave of heavy pollution blanketed the Northeast for over a week. The persistent smog not only made headlines abroad, but also generated much online conversation. Although many Chinese have learned to cope with or weather regular pollution, these unprecedented levels of smog caused many to question more seriously what effects the pollution has on their lives. How have some Chinese Christians responded? The journal Territory put together several reflections from Christians on varying contrasting themes related to pollution.
In the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, two Christians in China offer their thoughts on the future of Chinese mission sending structures.
As Joann Pittman skillfully conveys in her new book, The Bells are Not Silent, the church bells of China provide a valuable—and until now, largely neglected—window into the life of China’s church.
China’s Rural Poor Bear the Brunt of the Nation’s Aging Crisis (January 4, 2017, Bloomberg)
The outlines of China’s demographic challenge are well-known: By 2050 almost 27 percent of the population will be 65 or older, up from around 10 percent in 2015, according to projections by the United Nations and the China Research Center on Aging. Less recognized is that the crisis will hit hardest in villages like Shangxule, which are suffering the twin effects of China’s one-child policy and decades of migration to the cities.
As the sending of cross-cultural workers from China gains momentum, many international sending organizations see China as a rich source of potential new workers for the harvest.
China Christian Daily recently posted a list of the most popular news stories from the China Christian Times. Some may be surprising.
When Joann discovered a 150-year-old American bell hanging in a church in southwest China she knew there was a story to tell. Who had decided to ship it? How had it been transported? How had it survived the political turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s? She also knew that if there was one bell there must be others. Over the course of eight months she traveled around China looking for old church bells, finding ones from the United France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. This book is a collection of stories about those bells. But more importantly, they are stories of God’s faithfulness to his church in China.
On Sunday, January 1 China’s new law governing foreign NGOs in China went into effect. The good folks at China Development Brief have put together a helpful infographic covering the basic information about the law.
This is the fifth in a five-part series on localization of China ministry. Each essay centers on a different issue that the author has encountered as his organization goes through the process of handing over key leadership to local believers. The challenges are real, and the process is ongoing, meaning that some essays contain as many questions as answers.
Inside China's 'mosquito factory' fighting Zika and dengue (December 28, 2017, CNN)
Zhiyong Xi is a man on a mission. He wants to rid China -- and potentially the world -- of mosquitoes, specifically the ones that carry devastating diseases like Zika and dengue. And he's doing it in the classic style of good versus evil. "We're building good mosquitoes that can help us fight the bad ones," the entomologist said in his 3,500-square-foot laboratory in Guangzhou, China.
Over the course of 2016, as I have had the opportunity to participate in various gatherings of Chinese Christians, I have heard two conversations going on simultaneously.
Are you wondering which posts you and your fellow readers enjoyed the most in 2016? Look no further; here is the list!
It’s time for our annual look back at the most popular posts on our From the West Courtyard blog in 2016. Here is what you, our readers, particularly liked this past year: