Called to China

On the fifth of August, 2021, fourteen-year-old Quan Hongchan dominated the individual ten meter platform Olympic event with an overall score of 466.20, completely demolishing the previous record of 447.70 set by Chen Ruolin in 2008.

China is famous for high scoring athletes, rich history, and “authentic” takeout food. However, the country also has a rich history of polytheism, the worship of multiple gods. With so many people in China, over 1.3 billion, the country has many ‘missionaries’ who travel to the Asian country to share the Good News.

However, the ‘missionaries’ don’t even use that word, according to the anonymous source who agreed to share the info for this article. China is a communist country and, as such, keeps a tight rein on what is shared and said throughout the country. In order to avoid being flagged, Christians eschew from using the words ‘missionary’, ‘Jesus’, or ‘prayer’ when writing emails or talking on the phone. In some places, the evangelists’ apartments are bugged and they are unable to use those words within their own home. Instead, the evangelists get creative, substituting the word ‘prayer’ for other code words like ‘rap’ and ‘sing’.

Think of an accordion: as it’s played, the bellows expand and contract. China’s government can feel like an accordion. People can feel free, but it’s just an illusion. Any time the government wants it can snap up any and all rights, just like an accordion’s player can contract the bellows at any moment.

That is the main reason why staying under the radar is so important for Christian evangelists in China. There is a “government sanctioned” church; however, like everything else, the church is closely monitored by the government. Pastors are sent to special ministry schools. While the church doesn’t preach against the Bible, the pastors do avoid passages that the Chinese government bans. Since the selling of Bibles was banned in 2018, much of the Chinese population has no way of reading the passages of the Bible that the Chinese government censors.

That’s where evangelists come in. They travel from all over the world to preach the Truth to the people in China, but it’s not an easy task!

Unless the evangelist is already fluent in Mandarin Chinese, one of the hardest languages to learn for an English speaker, the first several years are often spent learning the complex language from evangelists already in the country. With this language barrier, it becomes difficult to explain some of the more complex concepts of Scripture, such as the Trinity, which is why newer evangelists are often assisted by more experienced Christians already living in China.

However, the language barrier is not the only difficult gap to bridge when trying to reach the Chinese people. Since the culture is so different from the USA, where many evangelists originate, it is difficult to communicate the Gospel in a culturally relevant way, especially since over 80% of religious people in China are polytheists.

For them, Jesus is just another god to worship. Similar to Paul’s experience in Athens when he encountered an altar to the Unknown God, recorded in Acts 17:23, the Chinese don’t believe in giving up all of their other gods to follow Jesus. For this reason, evangelists often start small, beginning with introducing Jesus and gradually working up to the idea of a single sovereign god. It’s also important to give the Chinese people the Old Testament, showing them Creation, Noah, Abraham, and other key stories leading up to Christ to minimize the chance of Jesus just being “added” to the people’s list of “gods”.

With 1.3 billion people, the evangelists would probably have a hard time reaching everyone. That’s one of the reasons for the “underground church” in China. The underground church is a group of gatherers who get together illegally to share the Gospel. Though these gatherers do help the evangelists, many evangelists try to stay away from the gatherings for the gatherers’ protection. Since the evangelists are often foreigners and tend to stick out, the gatherers might be in danger of persecution should attention be drawn to them.

Despite these difficult circumstances, the evangelists still work hard to make a difference. The Bible tells us in Luke 15:7 that “in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Even just one soul saved makes all of the frustration, fear, and struggles worth it for the selfless Christian evangelists who answer God’s calling on their life to reach out to a country that at times may seem unreachable.

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  1. omgosh, this is so sad because thinking how controlling is this goverment, no right to free speech! My prayers to the people of china!! <3

  2. Thank you, Sasha! It’s good to have a practical picture of what life in China looks like for Christians. I’ll be praying!

  3. Although China’s culture and political structure is rather complicated and impossible to explain throughly in a few paragraphs, great job summing it up in this article. I enjoyed reading it 🙂