Lessons from China

            I’ve read a Christian book called China: The Emerging Challenge, by Paul E. Kauffman, about the Church in China.  Though the book is several years old and some statistics may be outdated, I think it gives wonderful historic and religious background and describes the changes in the Chinese Church in the country’s changing climate after Mao’s death.  Some things haven’t changed, such as the existence of a growing house church movement and ongoing persecution of Christians.  I’m referring to the Body of Believers who have chosen not to be part of the government’s officially sanctioned Three Self church with its watered down message.  Kauffman points out several lessons the Chinese Church has learned, which can be of value to us in our part of the world.  You may be able to identify with them and find them encouraging.

            No building is necessary to have a church.  Those Chinese Christians who didn’t emphasize buildings as part of their ministry were better prepared when the Communists confiscated or restricted use of church buildings.  The new Testament church began meeting in houses (Acts 2:46-47).  There’s no New Testament command to have buildings for assembly.  The Church is not Israel, which had its temple and synagogues.

            The Chinese Church was driven underground, causing believers to meet in homes, where they’re far less likely to be monitored by the government.  This has the benefit of strengthening the family unit.

            Chinese Christians have developed a greater appreciation for the Word in the absence of plentiful Bibles.  People have steadfastly kept notebooks and are trained to teach others in the absence of readily available clergy.  Shortwave radio broadcasts have beamed in readings of the Scriptures for believers to copy by hand.  How many of our Western churches can say they have that kind of intense discipleship ministry?

            Persecution and suffering helped purify the Chinese Church.  Christianity isn’t an attractive option.  Church isn’t merely a social club, nor is it a place  for social climbers.

            There’s an attractiveness about Christian joy, which was especially important during the worst of the communist domination and oppression.  Chinese Christians can truly say the joy of the Lord is their strength.  There’s joy in knowing the Lord, fellowshipping with born again believers and passing on the Good News.

            The Chinese Church is not perfect, but it has prospered by God’s providence in spite of the efforts of the Communists to quash it.  It has also grown more than during times when China was more open to missionaries.  Depriving believers of church buildings and imprisoning clergy forced Chinese Christians into greater self reliance and the need to follow a Biblical model.  Also, the Communists instituted an official language and simplified Chinese script, making the spread of the Gospel somewhat simpler and more efficient.  So it was with the spread of the Greek language after the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.  I’m reminded of the words of Joseph to his brothers in Gen. 50:20: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”  You’ll recall his brothers sold him into slavery.  He was falsely accused and imprisoned in Egypt before being raised up to the position of second in command under Pharaoh.  So it may be in your life.  God is at work in the midst of adversity.  Be ready for an adventure.  Will you let Him shape your future as only He can?

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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