Dear Praying Friends:
A couple of months ago, I referred to telling stories as one way of communicating the Gospel. Starting with the Book of Acts, Christians have a heritage in the lives of disciples of Christ who have set before us examples of faithfulness and love. The Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity (www.bdcconline.net) has developed into a rich repository of brief accounts of both foreign missionaries and Chinese believers over the past several hundred years. Though not neglecting outstanding Roman Catholics, the BDCC concentrates upon Protestants, beginning with Robert Morrison, who arrived in China in 1807. With over four hundred articles in English, and around two hundred in Chinese, the BDCC is perhaps the largest such resource available on the Internet. The Chinese stories can be read in either traditional or simplified characters, so Chinese from all parts of the world can easily access the contents of the site. The BDCC receives more than 400 unique visitors daily, almost half of them to the Chinese page, so we know it is meeting a need.
Encouragement for all!
Personally, I find the work of researching, writing, or translating to be most encouraging, for all our subjects were outstanding people, filled with faith and good works. Think of Robert Morrison, who labored for decades to produce a Chinese Bible, dictionary, grammar, and dozens of other works covering all aspects of China’s complex culture and society. Laboring under the most difficult conditions – even learning the language was illegal – he persevered, despite illness, the death of his wife, a full-time job, and the constant fear of discovery by authorities. In the twentieth century, John Song engaged in almost fabulous exploits as China’s most famous evangelist. Who knows how many tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands were converted through his powerful preaching, or how many thousands received miraculous healing from his prayers? Despite a debilitating disease that finally took his life, not to mention constant fatigue, bandits, Japanese bombing attacks, opposition from government officials or those whose businesses suffered when people repented of evil habits, he traversed China as well as much of South East Asia in epic journeys that are remembered to this day. Sometimes, the stone which the builders rejected turns into a major building block, as happened with Gladys Aaylward, the “little woman” who became universally acclaimed for her stunning achievements in rural China, immortalized in Ingrid Bergmann’s inaccurate but thrilling “Inn of the Sixth Happiness.” David Adeney’s health almost barred him from membership in the China Inland Mission, but he proved all the doctors wrong throughout decades of travels in China, South East Asia, North America, and the rest of the world. I met two men last week who had been greatly impacted by his ministry. You can read “the rest of the story” about Eric Liddell, hero of “Chariots of Fire,” who went on to missionary victories of Olympian stature. Not all of the articles deal with famous people. Some, like Wang Laiquan, served for decades in positions of relative obscurity while rendering invaluable service to the advance of the Gospel. His own humility, sacrifice, and skill were indispensable to the early success of James H. Taylor and the China Inland Mission.
For what purpose?
Okay, so I can be uplifted and instructed by these true accounts, but what value does the BDCC play in reaching Chinese worldwide? First, Chinese Christians receive encouragement by learning of their Christian heritage, which has hitherto been largely unknown to them. They see that they are not alone in their struggles against all sorts of obstacles. Second, these stories augment more didactic means of leadership development, furnishing models for evangelists, pastors, and others with responsibility in the church and in society. Third, the BDCC supplements direct evangelistic tools. Sometimes stories can win people’s hearts in a way that straight doctrine does not. In particular, these examples of courage and sacrifice appeal powerfully to Chinese, who admire those who suffer hardship for the good of others. Finally, these historical accounts correct false impressions of missionaries as tools of foreign imperialism, and of Chinese believers as traitors to their country. Countering such prejudice forms a necessary component to any strategy to clear away obstacles to the growth of the church in China.
What can you do?
A lot, actually. For example:
- Visit the site now and enjoy at least one story.
- Bookmark the page and return often.
- Forward this letter to your friends now.
- Pray that God will supply all that we need to continue this vital ministry, including more writers and adequate financial support.
- Consider writing an article. Contact us for more information.
- Thank God for all the saints who have gone before (Hebrews 11:1-40).
Yours in His faithfulness, Wright