In light of the new realities outlined in my January letter, I believe that Christians in the West should revise some of their approaches to communicating Christ with Chinese and return to proven methods suitable for almost all times, but especially now.
In no certain order, some of these “tried and true” approaches would include:
- Praying for God to work among Chinese worldwide and to enable those serving among them to be as effective as possible.
- Praying for peace in East Asia, where a number of flash points could erupt into war suddenly.
- Focusing on Chinese in the West, especially students and scholars and their families, but also restaurant workers.
- Praying for God to overcome obstacles and to thrust forth many more workers into the harvest field among Chinese worldwide.
- Continuing to encourage qualified and prepared Christians to go to China to serve as diligent students, teachers, and other professionals, with valid visas and the intention to serve as “salt and light” by doing their job well and obeying the laws.
- Re-deploying both long-and short-term workers to Taiwan. There is full religious freedom in Taiwan. We don’t know how long that will last. More than 98% of Taiwan’s 23 million+ people do not attend any Christian church.
- Using the Internet and social media, which still reach millions of Chinese.
- Cooperating with other China ministries and with Chinese churches.
- Devoting time and energy to long-term relationships with Chinese, both seekers and believers, to help them come to Christ and to grow in Christian maturity.
- Doing all we can, including prayer, publications, and personal relationships, to counter the rising influence of liberal theology and syncretistic teaching among Chinese Christians and academic scholars, and to produce and promote solid biblical, theological, and cultural resources.
- Developing low-cost, high-yield structures and programs that do not rely on continued American power and prosperity or continued freedoms in the West or in Asia.
- In particular: testing, developing, and implementing methods of small-group, home-based, lay-led Bible study and fellowship groups that will replicate themselves and form movements of house churches and house church presbyteries for each “city.” A city would be an urban or rural area that is small enough to allow for easy communication; larger cities would be divided into many of these smaller ecclesiastical regions. The goal is NOT to build a province-, state-, or nation-wide organization.
In God’s providence, all of our colleagues are engaged in just such activities. Please ask God to make us fruitful, for his glory and the good of the more than one billion Chinese who have not yet heard the gospel.
Some of these strategies are uncontroversial: Everyone agrees we should pray, for example.
That doesn’t mean that implementing them will be easy. How much time do YOU spend in prayer for Chinese and those who minister among them?
Others are quite controversial, and will evoke strong objections. In coming months, I hope to address these objections and try to explain why I have identified these methods as essential for effective service to God’s kingdom among the Chinese.
All of them pose immense difficulty, however. Both the “new realities” I named in the last letter and other realties – such as inertia, competing demands on our resources, existing programs and loyalties, human sin, and the unrelenting opposition of Satan – require that we earnestly seek God’s grace to know and do his will.
“Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His Might.” Ephesians 6:10
Your fellow servant,