Many in Christ’s family know and cherish Advent (literally, coming or arrival) as the Christian season of preparation for the birth of Christ at Christmas. According to Philip H. Pfatteicher in his book Journey into the Heart of God: Living the Liturgical Year, “Since the time of Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) Christians have spoken of the three comings of Christ: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time.”
Of course, Jesus coming in the flesh as a baby introduced us to the incarnational ministry of our Lord and meant that humankind would play a role in his many arrivals. What a privilege it is that God has chosen us to bear witness to the coming of Jesus daily in the hearts of people around the world. “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?…‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)
Regardless of the changing ministry environment in China, and many global restrictions and dangers, Jesus is continually redeeming and transforming the hearts of people, seemingly against all odds. He arrives, in the fullness of his time, through his worshippers who have been captured by his love and have a zeal for his great commission.
We are watching the miraculous nature of our Lord’s lovingly relentless arrivals through his “sent ones” in a variety of ways:
- In the winter edition of the ChinaSource Quarterly, Xingwu Lin asserts, “Every aspect of the missions movement in modern China…reflects that the Chinese church has gained momentum and is on the verge of bursting forth.”
- Peter Bryant observes that “China’s expanding international reach has grown at the same time as an indigenous missions movement. Chinese Christians see themselves as playing a key role in the global missions efforts.”
- Brent Fulton points out, “The desire of people in many parts of the world to learn Chinese, and the openness of countries to foreign investment from China, provide potential paths for Chinese Christians serving cross-culturally.”
While China’s missionary church continues to rise, many expatriates are getting a call back, albeit for a different, more challenging role:
- A long-time cross-cultural worker expects that “expatriates will still provide support on the ground, but that support will become increasingly practical, personal, and pastoral.”
- An expatriate still serving in the mainland puts it this way in a recent blog post, “China is closed. I can’t argue with this statement. But I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a paradoxical proposition of my own: From the inside, I have never encountered in China an openness and hunger like this before.”
This sounds and looks very familiar—the history of missions, or the history of “emissaries of shalom,” as JI Yajie suggests. Jesus is building his church, advancing his kingdom, and relentlessly, lovingly arriving daily in the hearts of those he is calling and who seek him. He is coming again and before he does, “the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations” (Mark 13:10).
And so, Caedmon speaks to each of us, whether coming or going, when he writes: “Don’t ask me where it all leads. What I can tell you is this: If you’re willing to push past the most onerous travel restrictions imaginable, set foot on Chinese soil, and humbly place yourself alongside everyday urban residents racked with the inarticulate ache for life…Then amidst a society increasingly strained to the breaking point, you will find the harvest that awaits you as white as it has ever been.”
Merry Christmas and happy New Year from the ChinaSource team! We look forward to serving with you in 2023!
News and Notes
ChinaSource Quarterly, 2022 Winter Issue
Chinese Christians in the New Era, guest editor, Peter Bryant
This issue examines the way that the changes brought about by the New Era have affected Chinese Christians and cross-cultural workers, as well as foreign workers. As guest editor Peter Bryant says in his lead article, “‘It is time to file away whatever I knew about China and get out a blank sheet of paper,’ was my comment speaking at a 2014 conference. I could see China was heading in some new directions and my prior understanding of how China worked was increasingly irrelevant.”
Learn more about how the church in China is coping with these changes in Chinese Christians in the New Era.
On December 1, we hosted the last ChinaSource Connect event of the year. President Kerry Schottelkorb and Content Manager Narci Herr updated attendees on developments at ChinaSource. Dr. Brent Fulton gave an in-depth update on the current state of affairs in China, spoke about the need for and challenges of providing member care for Chinese missionaries, and answered audience questions. A recording of this event is now available on the ChinaSource YouTube channel. Please check it out! We also want to welcome our new subscribers from the live connect event.
ChinaSource Team News
- Narci and Glenn Herr spoke at Parkway Baptist Church on November 20 about their years of service in Hong Kong and China, the ministry of ChinaSource, and their opportunities for campus ministry among international graduate students many of whom are from mainland China.
- On November 15, under a content-sharing agreement, Christianity Today published an updated version of Daryl R. Ireland’s article, “Spreading the Gospel with Christian Propaganda Posters, which was part of the 2019 winter issue of the ChinaSource Quarterly. It appears at Christianity Today as “On the Streets of China, the Cross Shone Bright” and is also translated into Chinese.
- The fall issue of Ambassadors Magazine published a Chinese translation of “Meet China’s Gen Z” by Peng Chaoyang, which appeared in the Autumn 2021 issue of ChinaSource Quarterly.
Ways to Pray
From the ChinaSource Team
- Praise the Lord for the “sent ones” from China! Pray that they would receive proper preparation for their transition to life in a new culture. Pray for those coming alongside to care and nurture them, and that each one will have an abiding sense of their kingdom identity in the Triune God of Grace.
- Pray for the expatriates who have had to leave China but sense God’s call to return, that, by his grace, they will follow God’s course for them.
- Thank the Lord there are still expatriates in China who are serving Jesus and loving his people in China.
- Pray I Timothy 2:1-2 for all citizens and leaders of China. Pray also that Jesus will come into the hearts of many new Christ followers this Christmas (I Timothy 2:3-4).
- Pray with the ChinaSource team for God’s financial provision in December, as we seek to follow him through new ministry open doors in 2023.
From the 2022 Winter Issue of ChinaSource Quarterly
- Lift up the pastors and leaders of churches in China and ask that God will show them how to preach the gospel and guide their congregations wisely as they cope with new, increasingly restrictive government rules and regulations.
- Pray that Christian leaders, pastors, and families will be able to honor Christ in their choices even when facing discrimination and persecution.
- Ask God for wisdom, discernment, and creativity for Chinese ministers involved in missions and evangelization as they consider how they can best proclaim the gospel even where restrictions are present.
- Pray that expatriates involved with China ministry would know how to best proceed in coming days; that they will know where to locate and use the most effective methods to encourage and support Chinese Christians living in China.
- Appeal to our Heavenly Father that China’s government and state leadership would loosen religious regulations, and that church leadership would have much wisdom and strength from the Lord as they interact with government officials.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- An Interview with a Missions Leader in China (2), ChinaSource Blog, December 19.
- Café Encounters, ChinaSource Blog, December 16.
- Giving for Fruitful Partnerships, ChinaSource Blog, December 14.
- An Interview with a Missions Leader in China (1), ChinaSource Blog, December 12.
- Drinking from a Deep Well, ChinaSource Blog, December 09.
- Talking about Souls of China, ChinaSource Blog, December 07.
- Pausing to Say Thank You, ChinaSource Blog, December 05.
- Fragmentation, ChinaSource Blog, December 02.
- Examining Patterns in Chinese Religiosity, ChinaSource Blog, November 30.
- The Paradigm Shifts as the Pendulum Swings, ChinaSource Blog, November 28.
- The Lord’s Prayer, ChinaSource Blog, November 25.
- Giving Thanks in the Darkness, ChinaSource Blog, November 23.
- Bonhoeffer: An Exemplar for Facing Challenges, ChinaSource Blog, November 21.
- Missiological Reflections on Money, ChinaSource Blog, November 18.
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