ChinaSource has been privileged over the past 20 years to walk with many who have experienced firsthand the transformation of China and its church. As we end this year, we revisit some recent observations from Christians in China about how things have changed and the challenges that lie ahead. We also invite you, our readers, to join in supporting ChinaSource as we prepare to welcome the year ahead.
Dr. Brent Fulton
Over the past several months ChinaSource has run a series of blog posts called Looking Back. Bringing together comments from ChinaSource readers, organization leaders, and Christians in China, this series highlights just how much has changed in the two decades since ChinaSource was founded.
Particularly striking are the contributions from pastors and lay people in China, as they contrast life and ministry today with that of 20 years ago.
We were unable to gather publicly…you could not sing loudly and let it reach your neighbors.
There was a lack of Bibles.
People saw Christianity as an ignorant and low-class superstition imported from the West. It was very difficult to do evangelism.
There was a serious shortage of preachers who could preach the ‘pure’ gospel.
Today in both the registered and unregistered church the gospel is proclaimed openly. With modernization and urbanization have come opportunities for ministry that would have been hard to imagine 20 years ago.
Sunday school, ministry to Muslims, senior ministry and palliative care, ministry to disabled people and ministry to the deaf community, music ministry, online gospel ministry, gospel broadcasts, and seminary training.
People have the Bible on their phones and there are plentiful resources on the Internet.
Yet the same forces of modernization have brought a rampant secularism that many Christians view as the greatest threat facing the church today.
They should be able give a lot of time to studying the Bible now, but unfamiliarity with the Bible is actually more common among believers today.
There is economic abundance, but people are indifferent to faith.
A pure heart of love for the Lord, seeking to experience God, praying fervently, zealously evangelizing and sharing the gospel, intimate fellowship of brothers and sisters—these have all weakened.
The obstacles facing the church today may be different from those of two decades ago, yet, as one pastor noted, the core need of the church—spiritual maturity—remains the same.
China’s church is challenged as it raises up a new generation of committed disciples at home while fielding cross-cultural missionaries abroad. Meanwhile, as China’s international stature has risen, believers know that what happens in the church in China over the coming decades will have global ramifications.
China will be either a blessing to the world, or a curse, depending on which direction it moves toward. . . Christianity can play more important roles in pushing the country in the right direction.
Grateful for the opportunity to journey with China’s church over the past 20 years, ChinaSource remains committed to highlighting the victories and the struggles of China’s Christians as they move into unchartered territory. Through our publications, online platforms, events, and contributions in both Christian and secular media, ChinaSource facilitates informed discussion around critical issues facing China and its church.
Please see our 2017 Annual Report for further details on the activities of ChinaSource during the past year.
If you’ve found ChinaSource resources helpful, we invite you to make a year-end gift so that we can continue to serve as a platform for sharing knowledge and relationships among those serving China in the year to come.
ChinaSource Quarterly 2017 Winter Issue
The 2017 winter issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Transitions,” was published earlier this month. In his editorial, Brent Fulton wrote:
Life transitions—whether coming to China for the first time, leaving after a lifetime of ministry, moving to a new city or taking on a new assignment—can be a gateway to discovery or the death of a dream. Often they are both.
In this issue of ChinaSource Quarterly we look at:
- the reasons why transitions are happening at this point in time;
- how some are responding to those transitions;
- how sending churches and agencies can help those in transition;
- how transitions affect local co-workers and the children of workers;
- and we include resources for navigating transitions in a healthy, constructive manner.
There’s something for almost anyone who is being affected by ministry transitions— whether it’s one’s own transition or that of a colleague or family member. Take time to read “Transitions” and pass it on to others.
News and Notes
- Brent Fulton was quoted on November 17 in Christianity Today’s article “China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President.”
- On November 27 Brent Fulton was again quoted in Christianity Today in “The Great Call of China: Churches Poised to Become Major Exporters.”
- A book review by Joann Pittman, “How Idolatry Shrivels Your Soul,” was published by The Gospel Coalition on December 11.
- On December 16 Joann Pittman spoke at the Hospitality Center for Chinese in Minneapolis.
- ChinaSource will be exhibiting at the Chinese Mission Conference in Ontario, CA, December 26-29. If you are there, stop by our table and say hello.
Ways to Pray
- Continue to lift up pastors, business people, and Christian leaders as they utilize resources now available through the Faith and Generosity in China Initiative. May they experience the joy of generosity in a new way this Christmas season.
- Lift up Chinese believers as they invite friends and relatives to join them in celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. May many come to know Christ through the special activities held this month in churches, homes, and offices and on college campuses.
- Give thanks for ChinaSource’s faithful supporters, who serve throughout the year–praying for the ministry and giving toward the financial needs of ChinaSource.
- Pray that ChinaSource’s year-end needs will be met.
From the Quarterly, pray . . .
- That cross-cultural workers in China will discern when God is making a change in their ministry and follow his leading.
- For workers and their families who are returning to their passport countries as they again make cultural adjustments after years of living in China.
- For churches to be wise, discerning, and helpful as they seek to assist returnees and their families as they readjust to their home culture.
- For parents as they help their children move from one culture to another in a healthy manner.
- That children who have spent much of their lives in China and must now learn another culture will do so in a positive, healthy manner, and experience God’s protection.
- That debriefing of China experiences will be used by cross-cultural workers and aid them in understanding daily experiences and relationships.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- Majority World Missions and Chinese Missions, ChinaSource Blog, November 15.
- Re-balancing the Seesaw, ChinaSource Blog, November 17.
- Cities on the Silk Road, ChinaSource Blog, November 20.
- 6 Things a Chinese Christian Needs to Learn about Faith and Work, ChinaSource Blog, November 21.
- Whom Do You Thank? ChinaSource Blog, November 22.
- “Digital Leninism,” ChinaSource Blog, November 27.
- Chinese Christians Look Back, Part 3, ChinaSource Blog, November 28.
- A Pivotal Decade, ChinaSource Blog, November 29.
- Factory Youth: A Film Review, ChinaSource Blog, December 1.
- Why Are the Migrants Being Kicked Out? ChinaSource Blog, December 4.
- Transitions, ChinaSource Quarterly, December 4
- The Sinicization of Religion, ChinaSource Blog, December 5.
- International Students in China–The Road Ahead? ChinaSource Blog, December 8.
- Looking Back on an Emerging Missions Movement, ChinaSource Blog, December 11.
- The Joy of Preparing for Christmas, ChinaSource Blog, December 12.
- When “Apolitical” Is Not an Option, ChinaSource Blog, December 13.
- Understanding the Times to Facilitate Chinese Missionary Sending, ChinaSource Blog, December 15.
- China through the Years, ChinaSource Blog, December 18.
- A Question for Christians at Christmas, ChinaSource Blog, December 19.
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