2008: An Extraordinary Year

Dear Praying Friends:

By any measurement, the first eleven months of this year have been extraordinary.

A world in turmoil

In China, the most severe winter storms in memory stranded millions of travelers; violence erupted in Tibetan areas; a monster earthquake killed 80,000 and left millions homeless; floods wreaked terrible damage. The Beijing Olympics showcased China’s rich heritage and amazing development, but scandals over toxic toys and milk powder soon took center stage, to be followed by a rapidly-decelerating economy. Public protests continued. Americans elected a new president amidst the worst financial crisis in a hundred years, with more economic pain predicted for some time to come.

The Kingdom advances

Meanwhile, the Gospel was making progress. Christians spearheaded earthquake relief in Sichuan, and stayed behind after others had left. Appreciative local officials noted the difference, as did grateful residents. Despite increasing restrictions in some areas of China, zealous believers did not cease to shine like lights in a dark society, so the Church kept growing. The ministry of China Institute saw notable advances also. In the spring, I taught an “Introduction to Theological and pastoral Studies” for Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.’s Chinese program, and adult courses on Chinese Christianity for our church in the summer and fall. Jesus: The Complete Man should be available in January (www.AuthorHouse.com). The manuscript of China: Ancient Culture, Modern Society is about to go to the publisher, and I plan to send a proposal to a publisher soon for the book on the theology of Carl Henry, which is in the final stages of proofreading; the editor-in-chief has expressed interest. Both have received meticulous proofreading from my assistant Laura Philbrick, who has also made very helpful editorial suggestions. Work on the Greek-Chinese lexicon progresses; the devotional commentary on Matthew and America: Rise and Fall of a “Christian” Nation should be completed soon. Despite lower attendance at Chinese Christian Fellowship meetings over the past couple of years, we are encouraged by the growth of the leaders. Twice as many came to the Christmas party this year than did last year, several of them from China. After my sermon to the Chinese church in Princeton, in September, I was asked to help with their daughter congregation in Sofia, Bulgaria. I suggested instead that they ask our Partner Randal Chan, who with his wife Connie reaches out to Chinese scholars in Cambridge, England. They agreed, and Randall will make his first visit in January. The academic division of our outreach, Global China Center, experienced several significant breakthroughs: Our associates presented panels on modern Chinese Christians at the meetings of the American Society of Church History in January and the Conference on Faith & History in September. Jason Truell, our webmaster, managed to re-design the English page for the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity (www.bdcconline.net); design and launch the Chinese page; and begin the M.A. in Theology program at China Evangelical Seminary, Taipei. His wife Kristie is expecting #2! Dr. Li Yading and his wife Dr. Cui’an Peng have produced about almost 200 Chinese stories, with more on the way, making the BDCC a major resource for Chinese Christians and interested scholars alike. Salt & Light: Lives of Faith that Shaped Modern China, edited by Senior Associate Carl Lee Hamrin with Research Associate Stacey Bieler, was published by Wipf & Stock in October. Eminent scholars gave it high praise. A Chinese edition is in the works, as are two more volumes in the series. Dr. Hamrin has been given almost carte blanche to submit manuscripts from other China researchers, to build a “Studies in Chinese Christianity” series for Wipf & Stock. My comparison of Christ and Confucius may be among them. The widely-read online newsletter ZGBriefs featured articles from the GCC site by Dr. Hamrin and others as their lead story by four times this year, and other articles were cited also. Associate John Barwick made good progress on his dissertation and presented a paper in Chinese at a conference for scholars in Hong Kong. Cole Carnesecca, our newest Associate, has begun advanced Chinese language studies in Taiwan.

Hidden growth

Which are more important – the headline-grabbing events that dominate the media, or the slow advances of the Gospel? God presides over both, of course, and uses them as parts of His grand design to head up all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). Long ago, when everyone thought that Caesar Augustus and his puppet Herod were the real power-holders and news-makers, a helpless Baby was born in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire. That little Child, now grown and glorified, rules the entire world (Ephesians 1:20-23). Actually, in this letter I have only touched on outward things, when the more significant story is that both we and our Chinese friends have experienced more of God’s grace this year. During two retreats together, and in our own daily lives, we have sensed His mercy and power. And who can compute the value of Dori’s quiet hospitality and faithful mentoring, or of your prayers for us? At the end of the year, when we contemplate God’s indescribable Gift to us in Christ, we are also deeply grateful for your essential part in our ministry.

Yours in His love,

Wright

PS Tax-deductible gifts for China Institute may be sent to:

China Institute
PO Box 7312
Charlottesville, Virginia 22906-7312

For Global China Center, to:

GCC
PMB 201 077 Seminole Trail
Charlottesville, VA 22901

G. Wright Doyle, M.Div., Ph.D., Director