Unexpected Answers to Prayer
Since before ChinaSource’s founding in the 1990s, many faithful friends of this ministry have been praying with us the prayer that Jesus prayed for all his followers, “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
Many of you have faithfully supported us in the often-unseen work of collaboration as we have encouraged greater partnership among those serving in China.
Over the past year we have seen God answering these prayers in an unexpected way. As you are aware, the environment for China ministry has become much more difficult. Most foreign workers who were living in China are no longer there. Heightened security concerns make interaction with Chinese believers riskier. Much of what we had been doing five or ten years ago would be impossible today.
Yet with these restrictions has also come a new awareness of the importance of collaboration. One longtime China worker wrote in a recent ChinaSource Blog post entitled “New Wine Means New Wineskins”:
We must embrace working collaboratively for the sake of God’s kingdom. In times past it was quite easy to toil in our own fields, paying little to no mind to what others around us may be doing. But now that access has become limited, and resources (particularly human resources) restricted, we must consider how pooling our efforts can help us overcome some of the challenges we are facing. God designed us to work together, as the body of Christ—members of one another, united as his hands and feet. Each of us individually, along with our organizations, bring something to the table. But we must consider what God can do if we strive together towards his vision, as opposed to solely pursuing our own individualized visions.
We praise God for this new spirit of collaboration in the China ministry community. Here are some practical ways we see this playing out:
- A major conference for agency leaders that two members of our team helped organize last year continues to gain momentum. Multiple working groups are meeting monthly. We are blessed to see leaders who are spearheading collaborative initiatives as they generously share with one another what they are learning.
- With the new pressure on China’s church has come an increased need for accurate information on how government policies impact Chinese believers. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with others who are monitoring the state of religious freedom around the world and finding practical ways to assist believers who face pressure because of their faith.
- For the past several years we have helped facilitate a platform for encouraging those around the world who provide member care to missionaries being sent out from China. This group continues to grow.
Thank you for sharing in this work of Spirit-led collaboration. May you be encouraged as you see the Lord answering the prayers we have prayed together over the years.
Remembering Phill Butler
A key inspiration in the early days of ChinaSource was Phill Butler, the founder of Interdev and, later, of VisionSynergy. Phill pointed the way in developing kingdom partnerships. His insights, counsel, and practical wisdom were an invaluable blessing as we sought to understand the practical outworking of John 17. We give thanks for Phill’s godly example and his generous encouragement.
Following a protracted battle with cancer, Phill concluded his earthly journey last month on Palm Sunday morning, just as the sun was rising over the San Gabriel Mountains in Pasadena, California. He is remembered by many as a visionary, mentor, and friend. Phill’s legacy lives on through hundreds of organizations and countless leaders who were impacted by Phill’s life, and through the work of VisionSynergy, led by Phill’s daughter Kärin.
Ways to Pray
- Rejoice with us that the Lord’s prayer in John 17:21 is being fulfilled through the blessing of collaboration and partnerships between those leading and serving his church in China.
- Thank the Lord for the joy and fruit that remains when the church is moving forward as one in the Triune God of Grace.
- Pray with us that ChinaSource would continue sharing in the work of Spirit-led collaboration for the advance of God’s kingdom in China.
News and Notes
Many people think that, due to security concerns, nothing of a spiritual nature can be said or done online in China. As always, when it comes to China, reality is quite a bit more complicated. Despite restrictions and an increasingly tight environment, there are still creative ways that Christians are using the internet for evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and encouragement. In this webinar, we will present a picture of what God is doing through four different ministries involved in digital engagement.
We have invited four speakers who have extensive knowledge and experience in this burgeoning field, all of whom are involved in developing innovative digital engagement strategies. Each one will present their work and resources, as well as tips on how to use digital engagement to minister to your Chinese friends. Following the presentations, there will be time for you to ask all your questions about safely sharing the gospel online.
Date: May 31, 2023
Time: 7–8:30PM (US CDT)
Online via Zoom
On April 26, 2023, approximately 75 people gathered in the Barrows Auditorium at Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Hall to hear Dr. Daryl Ireland’s insightful presentation on Chinese evangelistic posters used in China’s Republican Era.
He started off by reminding us that “archives are dangerous places” because of their tendency to upend what we think we know about historical events. The 700 posters that he and his team have studied challenge what we have long thought about Christianity in China in the early 20th Century.
If you weren’t able to attend Dr. Daryl Ireland’s excellent talk, the lecture was recorded and is now publicly available on our YouTube channel.
ChinaSource Team News
- Kerry Schottelkorb presented a series of messages entitled “Rendering to Caesar, Rendering to God” at the La Habra Hills Presbyterian Church men’s retreat from May 5 to 7.
- On April 26, 2023, Brent Fulton, Joann Pittman, and Narci and Glenn Herr attended Dr. Daryl Ireland’s lecture at Wheaton College, linked above.
- Brent Fulton’s review of Benedict Rogers’ book The China Nexus: Thirty Years in and around the Chinese Communist Party’s Tyranny was published in the May 2023 issue of International Journal of Religious Freedom.
In Case You Missed It
A selection of recently published items:
- An Elephant in the Room: Face, ChinaSource Blog, May 15.
- WeChatting to the Glory of God, a Free Webinar, ChinaSource Blog, May 12.
- Church Cares for Elderly in Zhangzhou City Nursing Home, ChinaSource Blog (CCV), May 10.
- New Wine Means New Wineskins, ChinaSource Blog, May 08.
- Recording: Chinese Christian Posters in Early 20th Century China, ChinaSource Blog, May 05.
- When Your Mission Hopes Are Blocked, ChinaSource Blog, May 03.
- On Being Present for Hungry Hearts, ChinaSource Blog, May 01.
- How Should the Church Respond to Government Control?, ChinaSource Blog, April 28.
- Reaching Gen Z in Singapore, ChinaSource Blog, April 26.
- Chinese Migrants in the Stew Pot of Dubai, ChinaSource Blog, April 24.
- Xiamen!, ChinaSource Blog, April 21.
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