While riding on a bullet train at 150 mph, thoughts zoom through your head. Here are some thoughts about China.
The great thing about China is the openness people have to the Gospel. When Communism took over China, it wiped out all religion, including Christianity and Buddhism. Most people don’t believe in anything. Because of this, there’s an emptiness inside. They want to believe in something. Evangelism comes easy – people often come and introduce themselves to you on the street. In many ways, Christianity in China continues to grow, but in other ways they face more challenges then ever.
Challenges that Christianity in China faces include: Secularism & Intensified Persecution.
For the first time, we’re seeing an emerging middle class in China. While this is great for the people, the downside is that more and more people think they don’t need God. People often compare China’s current economic state to the post-World War II boom experienced in America. The good times are rolling and bringing massive change with it.
Just like in America, people crave the latest iPhone and gadget. Materialism is an increasing problem among young people. While the previous generation starved under Mao & Communism, this generation wants the newest car and house. The hunger that people once had for God is being threatened by the booming Chinese economy.
For the first time, we’re seeing government churches persecuted. Any public displays of religion, including crosses, are being forcibly removed – and again, this is happening to government churches. House churches are also seeing continued pressure.
Establishing a strong local church is becoming extremely difficult in China. As foreigners are strictly prohibited from influencing churches in any way, it’s often left to the locals. While many Chinese Christians are eager, churches are often filled with infighting and weak doctrine. This is where foreign missions becomes so important. Missionaries often provide the maturity and outside clarity needed to deal with these issues.
Like in many countries, China desperately needs church leadership training. The average believer in America would be more equipped to pastor a church than the average Chinese pastor. This isn’t their fault. They simply don’t have the deep Biblical training or perspective that is so abundant in America.
China is making it more difficult for foreigners to operate in China. They no longer allow foreign-run non-profits to operate in China independently. They now have the right to audit and dictate exactly what you do. Where they used to welcome outside humanitarian help, the government now wants to control it. This makes it much harder for missionaries. This was definitely a factor that forced us to consider our future influence in China.
While the future for China is economically bright, we need to pray for continued religious freedom for churches and missionaries.