Chinese Christians have drawn up an ambitious plan to send 20,000 missionaries overseas by 2030.
China’s goal is said to be reminiscent of South Korea’s pledge in the 1990s to raise 10,000 missionaries, but no-one is doubting the Asian giant. “China always wins when it comes to numbers,” said Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource.
While five years ago more than 200 Chinese Christians were detained before they could board flights to leave the country, Fulton said that the incident in 2010 only served as a catalyst to bring together church leaders both inside and outside of the country.
The Chinese government presents practical problems, as sending agencies to organize such a large number of people are illegal. Chinese church leaders are relying on individual churches to shoulder most of the burden.
“China’s church has unique strength in evangelism, especially in the Middle East,” says Zhiqiu Xu, director of Columbia International University’s Chinese program. “To begin with, China doesn’t engender the same antagonism there that Western countries do.”
While the persecution of China’s Christians has shown them how to set up discreet house churches and navigate legal grey areas, better organisation is clearly needed. There are less than a thousand Chinese missionaries working cross-culturally, and most quit after two years.
“The Chinese church is a bit like a teenager – awkward but energetic,” Xu says. “It may not have the details planned, but at least it has the vitality to tell the world, ‘We want to do something’.”
[Image via Christianity Today]
By Kitty Lai