Open Minds and Hearts
The growing number of Chinese scholars who are open to Christianity represents a fertile field for effective Christian witness. Hundreds of thousands of academics from Greater China (China, Taiwan, Singapore) travel to other countries annually, many to study for several years, others for shorter terms as visiting scholars. Many more remain at home to pursue truth, and increasingly they are pondering the value of Christianity for themselves and their society. These members of “the best and the brightest,” the intellectual elite of the nation, exercise influence far beyond their numbers. They dominate not only education, but also the arts, media, and government. It behooves us to engage them in critical examination of their culture and the potential role of Christians within it, and to develop relationships with them. They are, after all, people like us, and their personal lives are fraught with stress, uncertainty, and frustration – suitable soil for a message of light and love.
Although the government has been cracking down harshly on house churches in some places, has stepped up its promotion of atheistic socialism (under various names), and increasingly discourages explicit religious inquiry and expression in the academy, many open doors await those with the right resumes and relationships. Indirect approaches can often bear much fruit. Chinese are eager to learn from scholars in other countries, including the United States and Britain. More and more, they also have something of value to contribute to academic dialogue. Conferences, scholarly colloquia, and personal interchange between peers offer ready access to people who are eager for both information and friendship. More direct openings are also available, for thousands of Chinese intellectuals in a variety of disciplines are eager to learn how the Christian message and its messengers have made a contribution to society in the past and might do so in the future.
Global China Center was formed in 2004 as the academic arm of our work and witness among educated Chinese. Our nine associates (including spouses) attend conferences, host Chinese scholars in our homes, engage in correspondence with them, and seek in a variety of ways to build lasting friendships. We try to earn a hearing by careful listening, hard study, and by publishing articles and book reviews (see www.globalchinacenter.org), books, and especially the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity project (see www.bdcconline.net). In 2007, I plan to go to eight conferences dealing with several fields: Chinese culture and society; Christianity in China; theology; and missions. My goals are to learn, to link up with others of like mind, and possibly to make a small contribution. I have written one New Testament paper which I have asked some experts to examine, and am working on another on Carl Henry (a chapter in the reader’s guide to God, Revelation, and Authority which I hope to finish this year).
- Pray for God to use us for his glory among the Chinese. - Befriend a Chinese scholar studying near you. - If you are an academic, consider going to Greater China for a short time to exchange ideas – and share the love of God – with your colleagues across the ocean. Yours in the one in whom all wisdom and knowledge dwell,