Dear Praying Friends:
Mobilization is Necessary
No one person, church, or organization can hope to evangelize China’s vast population or edify the growing number of Christians, or equip church leaders. This task is so huge that the entire church around the world must be mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission as it refers to the Chinese. As we said last time, reaching out to Chinese living overseas must be a team effort, involving both Chinese churches and local believers. Each of us, therefore, should not only seek to minister to Chinese ourselves, but to mobilize others for service among the Chinese.
Prayer is Prior
Jesus told His disciples to pray that God would thrust forth laborers into a field white for harvest (Matthew 9:37-38). Likewise, the harvest of Chinese in Asia is plentiful, and the workers few, so we must ask God to raise up more willing workers.
Immediately after issuing His summons to prayer, Jesus Himself called twelve men to Himself and instructed them (Matthew 10:1-42).In the same way, we should each be trying to train others to share God’s truth and love among the Chinese. Notice that Jesus spent most of His time with a few people, and that He almost always spent time with them in what we would now call a small group, even as He also taught the multitudes. We need to focus on a few individuals, and the most effective way to do that might be in gatherings of two or three. If we have opportunities to teach larger groups, these few should be with us to watch.
Both Chinese and Westerners
Missionaries recognized long ago that China would be evangelized by its own people, who are in almost every way better equipped than foreigners. Thus, our primary focus should be on helping Chinese seekers to know Christ, and then on training them to disciple others in their own language. For that reason, my associates and I teach for Chinese-language seminaries, prepare literature for translation into Chinese, and spend time with a few Chinese Christian leaders. But that is not enough. Both because of the Great Commission’s mandate for all nations to be engaged in the spread of the Gospel, and because there are not enough Chinese believers to do the job alone, Westerners have a role to play. The problem is that those of us who are not Chinese face numerous obstacles to effective ministry, as we have seen: In particular, we lack adequate knowledge of the language and the culture, so it’s hard for us to understand or communicate with our Chinese friends. That is why we spend so much time in studying the language, history, religions, and society of China ourselves, and expend considerable effort to enable others to learn as much as possible.
To equip Westerners, we:
- Write articles, book reviews, and books about Chinese history, culture, society, and Christianity in China. See our web sites: chinainst.org; www.globachinacenter.org; www.bdcconline.net. The first volume of Salt & Light: Biographies of Chinese Christians will soon be published by Wipf & Stock, and I am working on a book introducing China. - Teach about God’s work among the Chinese in churches (as I am doing this fall); speak to China ministry groups (as we shall do in October); present papers at academic conferences (as we did last week in Ohio). - Mentor and encourage younger students of Chinese language and culture. Our group includes three people studying Mandarin and theology in Taiwan and a Ph.D. candidate writing a dissertation on Chinese Christians. We are also working to create a network of Christian China researchers with whom we can collaborate. - Advise individuals and groups, as more and more people consult us. Several of us serve on advisory boards of Christian China ministry organizations. I shall attend one such meeting in a few weeks. - Provide organizational support for a dozen workers. My assistant and I spend several hours each day trying to serve them. Visit our web sites to learn how you may contribute to their support.
Pray for Us
“Apart from Me, you can do nothing,” said Jesus (John 15:5). Unless His Spirit animates all that we do, our work is in vain. We rely on your intercessions to make our ministry fruitful. Thank you!
In His mercy,