China Kaleidoscope The Urgent Need for Training
“I am 39 years old. I have been leading nine churches in nearby villages for more than ten years. The number of believers in these churches ranges from 20 to 120. I have only ten co-workers. None have received any systematic Bible teaching training. Their sermons are disorganised and dull. Even the co-workers seldom meet for worship. The churches cannot operate normally. I am very worried, weak and ashamed.” A church-worker in Zhui (CCL, May 2004).
LOVE NEVER FAILS – MSI’s DECADE OF SERVICE
“These people come to you in the spirit of Christ.” With these words the respected representative of the Yenching Alumni Association from Beijing introduced a group of Christian workers to the Sichuan Provincial Public Health Bureau leaders in Chengdu. It was March 1, 1994. It was stated that this was a Christian organisation drawing colleagues from many different countries. Its desire was to work with the Chinese government in raising the standard of health care, especially in poverty-stricken areas in Inland China, including cities, rural areas and among minority groups. These people, with a heart for China, want to serve shoulder to shoulder with the local leaders, doctors, nurses and village healthy care workers in their fight against disease, poverty and ignorance.
Praise God that from just a vision ten years ago, He has raised up hundreds of long- and short-term professionals to serve in needy areas of inland China, given the trust and goodwill of officials, supplied resources for the task and blessed with fruit. He truly is the One who brings something out of nothing.
TESTIMONY OF COLLEGE GRADUATE
“It was one summer six years ago when my life took a sharp turn. Suddenly, I found myself caught at the cross-roads of life upon graduation. I used to be very self-confident but I found myself at a loss. As I grew up with an atheistic education, the idea of a fairy tale god never dawned on me. Neither did I believe in a saviour. I had the strong conviction that my future would depend all on my own efforts and my destiny would be in my own hands. However, my self-confidence began to shake as I thought of having to go through various difficulties all by myself as a single woman. I began to desire a harbour to shelter me from the storms of life or a solid rock to lean on.
“I got to know a Christian teacher at my college. Her lifestyle was very different from the other people and she demonstrated selfless love towards her students. These traits caused me to sense deeply the fragrance of a Christ-centered life. The Gospel she shared with me was like a refreshing breeze in a sweltering summer. It immediately opened my spiritual eyes. In the light of God’s word I saw all the ugliness inside me – the sins of pride, selfishness, lies, etc. But the salvation of the Lord cleansed my soul. The faith and hope I now have are not castles built in the air because they are not built upon myself but upon the Rock of my life. The love of Jesus has
touched me and changed me.” – This testimony, published by CCL Hong Kong in May 2004, shows clearly the importance of Christ-like love shown by his people as a major means of winning Chinese to Christ today.
“We have three co-workers on our visitation evangelistic team. In a short ten days, over ten Christian families were visited and some sick friends were comforted. Over 20 people were brought to Christ. Now a new meeting place has been set up. After prayer, we witnessed God’s miraculous work on two cancer patients who were in the last stages of their illness. Their condition has noticeably improved. Thank God for his grace!” – A Christian in Jiangxi in a letter to FEBC in May.
OUTREACH TO MUSLIMS IN CHINA
There are over twenty million Muslims in China (including eleven million Hui and nine million Uygurs in Xinjiang). Most are totally unreached by the Gospel. Some Chinese Christians have a vision to take the Gospel to Muslims in the Middle East, but the fact remains that evangelism by the Chinese church of the Muslims in their own country is still in its infancy. The TSPM churches are strongly discouraged, if not outrightly banned, from engaging in Muslim evangelism, especially in Xinjiang, because of the political sensitivities. There are thriving Han house-churches in Xinjiang but they face a wall of cultural and religious separation dividing the Han from their Muslim neighbours. Strict Muslims will have nothing to do with Han Chinese and if they were forced to eat together, break the crockery afterwards, regarding it as “defiled”. Muslims who become Christians face total ostracism from their family and community.
In one village Han Chinese Christians, who had migrated to Xinjiang from further east, have led quite a number of their Uygur neighbours to Christ. This is unusual – more often one or two converts are won after a long, patient process of friendship and low-key evangelism. This is what some of the original Back to Jerusalem pioneers are still engaged in today after arriving in Xinjiang over 50 years ago. They have seen very little fruit in terms of numbers but are quietly witnessing to the Lord, faithful to the original vision.
Henan province, which has been a centre of house-church revival for 30 years, has one million Hui Muslims but there is hardly any outreach by the house-churches. The Hui all speak Mandarin and, apart from their religion, are very close culturally to the Han Chinese. If the Back to Jerusalem vision is to become a reality, much more must be done to equip Chinese Christians to reach out in love to their Muslim neighbours within China itself. The Muslim areas of Xinjiang and Ningxia are ideal training grounds for those who feel called to go to the Middle East. Much prayer is needed as well as in-depth cross-cultural training. The provision of sensitively-written training materials to help Han Chinese Christians understand Islam and how to witness effectively to Muslims is a top priority, as such books do not exist at all in Mainland China.
WESTERN UNIVERSITIES OPEN IN CHINA
Thousands of Chinese students will soon be able to experience a British university education without leaving their homeland. Nottingham University became the first British university to announce the establishment of a campus on the Chinese mainland taking advantage of legislation passed by the Chinese government that allows foreign education enterprises to be set up in China. The campus will be in Ningbo. The first students will be recruited this autumn and by 2008 concentrate on arts and social sciences. Students will be charged the equivalent of US$6,800.00 a year. The university is tapping into a massive expansion of higher education planned by the Chinese government. At present only one percent of the population in China goes to university compared to 44 percent in the UK. (The Independent, April 16)
This exciting new development has obvious repercussions for Western Christians. As other universities in Britain, the USA, and other countries follow suit, there will be many more opportunities for them to go to China -a wonderful open door!
LEFT TO RIGHT
Taiwan is to end the practice of bottom and right to left. From next year, all government documents will be written horizontally from left to right, as on the Mainland. However, Taiwan, along with Hong Kong, still uses the “old” characters, whereas Mainland China as well as Singapore uses the simplified characters. To complicate matters further, there has been something of a revival of the “old” characters on the Mainland, not in books, but in shop signs and notices where they are regarded as more aesthetically pleasing. So far as Christian books are concerned, it is essential to print materials in the simplified script for the Mainland. However, city pastors and students are generally able to read materials in the “old script” as well.
From OMF International
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