For a full review of this excellent book, go to www.globalchinacenter.org.
Andrew Kaiser’s history of the growth of the Protestant church in Shanxi has valuable lessons for Christians who want to serve God among the Chinese worldwide. Here are just a few of them:
The power of God. Despite war, famine, plague, revolution, division, failures, and persecution, God’s purposes for his church in China will “rush on” to their appointed fulfillment. Though things may look, and indeed be, very dark at times, God will bring his people through to ultimate victory, as he establishes a church against which the gates of hell will not be able to stand.
The necessity of perseverance. Both the overall story and the examples of individual missionaries and Chinese Christians point to the absolute need for persistence in the face of any and all kinds of opposition, trial, disappointment, setback, hardship, and even death. Those who “endure to the end” will someday see – though perhaps from heaven – the results of their labor. “Hard work and suffering,” as one veteran missionary told a group of newcomers in 1976, are essential for missionary success.
The need for long-term commitment and service. Those who resolve to stay and serve for many years will be rewarded with lasting fruit. There is no substitute for investing years in building relationships, earning trust, and demonstrating the love of Christ on a daily basis. God can, of course, use brief encounters, but often, though not always, short-term work brings short-term results, unless there is careful follow-up.
The danger of going for quick results. We must resist the urge to go for quick, measurable outcomes, such as “decisions for Christ.” Recent history has once again demonstrated that it usually takes months, and usually even years, for Chinese to understand, agree with, accept, appropriate, and fully commit to the Christian faith. We must give God time to work in people, and not rush things, even if it means we have few “numbers” to report to the people who support us. Let them, and our Chinese friends, know that we seek quality, not quantity.
The value of learning the language, history (Christian history), culture, and customs of the Chinese. Those who made the greatest impact seem to have been the ones who took time to study the language and become intimately familiar with the people and their culture. Andrew Kaiser is himself a good example.
The need for foreign Christians. In China, Taiwan, and around the world, foreign Christians still have crucial roles to play in building the church among Chinese. For one thing, there are just too many Chinese who have not heard the gospel, and too few Christians to tell them. For another, the Chinese church can still benefit from input and assistance from believers of other nations and cultures.
The requirements for serving in China. Christians who want to provide effective service in mainland China must be willing to obey the law; obtain valid visas and do the work for which the visas are issued, such as learning the language, rather than using the visa as a “cover” for evangelism or church ministry; collaborate with local Chinese Christians whenever possible; possess some degree of Christian and personal maturity; know the Bible and theology well enough to communicate the gospel well; and have a close relationship with Christ that will enable them to draw upon his life and reflect his character to others. They must also be in good health. The conditions, especially the pervasive all-around pollution, can be harsh, and hard on the immune system.
The value of working with an experienced, trustworthy organization. Foreign Christians should either go with an established organization that has a solid record, or seek to associate with members of one when they reach the field. A list of some of these can be found on pages 198-199 of my book, Reaching Chinese Worldwide.
For more discussion of all these topics and many others, see Reaching Chinese Worldwide, as well as China: Ancient Culture, Modern Society, by Peter Yu and G. Wright Doyle. Both are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
G. Wright Doyle