Chinese Church Voices on Church History
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.
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.
Like many things in China, history remains firmly under the control of the Party. Only approved topics are allowed to be researched and only approved interpretations are allowed to be taught. The narrative is tightly controlled.
Very little is taught about the history of Christianity in China, and when it is touched on, it is done so in a negative light. Western missionaries have typically been portrayed as being part of the vanguard of imperialism. Less is known about some of the positive things early missionaries were engaged in.
In recent years, however, a small space has begun to open up for the exploration of Chinese church history, as many educated Christians seek to understand the historical roots of their faith.
Many of the church structures in China were originally built by missionaries in the 1800s and early 1900s. Some are tucked away in old neighborhoods; others surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers or towering apartment blocks. All of them have interesting stories—like the story of Chongzhen Church of Wuchang.