Editor’s note: To wrap up the past month of praying for and sharing articles about evangelism in China, our blog editor, E.F. Gregory, writes about how looking to China has encouraged and challenged her own attitude toward evangelism.
In 2021, everyone ought to be aware that what happens in China matters to everyone. (Hello, global pandemic!) As a library book I recently grabbed reminded me: if the world were a village of 100 people, twenty-one of those villagers would speak some form of Chinese. What happens in China impacts our lives, and our children’s futures.
Although these are uncertain days for Chinese Christians, the growth, perseverance, and love of the Chinese church—in spite of their status as a persecuted and marginalized group in a hostile society—shows me God’s love for his Bride, the Church. As S.E. Wang wrote earlier this year, in oppression and difficulty, the church in China remains focused on making disciples of all nations.
With that in mind, this is how Chinese evangelism is encouraging me today:
1. Just do it!
We must be brave enough to actually share with someone else what we believe about God, the world, and reality. We can start simply, and leave the end result to the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to worry about how others view us, or if our arguments are impeachable. Preacher Yang says: “Christians can share their experiences, lead the topic to Christ, and then live out their love. If they are not too results-oriented, this will not be a big deal.” The more we practice a lifestyle of regular evangelism, the easier it becomes.
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2. Be patient.
We do not have to try to accomplish the work of the Holy Spirit; we are not responsible to bring people to faith. Instead the work of evangelism, especially in this modern era, is incremental. Chinese believers understand that coming to Christ involves death of self and renunciation of one’s previous life and values. They are patient in the slow and steady work of sharing with those in their networks, and understand that the one who sows is often not the one who reaps. Right now, the evangelism process is often slow. Practicing evangelism does not always mean bringing someone to confess Christ. Instead, it includes preparing the soil of the heart so that others see faith as good and beautiful; planting the seed of the gospel story; tending weak and fledgling sprouts; and, only much later, harvesting the fruit of faith.
Pastor Simon Liu said, “Evangelism is not just telling people that Jesus saves them…We need to do a lot of work to open eyes.”
3. Finally, do all things with love.
Love is the best way to show others who God is. We must continue to boldly proclaim Christ with our words. But loud words that do not penetrate the heat are meaningless. My friends Sam and Aili Lin remind me that sacrificial love softens hard soil. As they work with international students in the States, and through their own experiences in the last year and a half, they have seen that practically caring for, welcoming, and helping with felt needs is the best way to break down barriers that someone may have put up against religion or Christianity.
“The way through tension and stress,” Sam said, “is to say and show, by our love, that we are not about those things. We are not political; we do not have any agenda. Our agenda is to show people Jesus and his kingdom. He surpasses all governments and kingdoms. He is perfect and loving, and we want to be about that.”
God is still calling people to himself. The days are evil; but love still opens hearts. Christianity is still growing in China; the evangelistic experiences of Chinese Christians reflect and foreshadow our experiences in the West. If we want to know how to reach our unchurched neighbors with the gospel, we ought to look to China. Although many report the ground is hard, Chinese Christians are still sowing, tilling, and reaping a harvest of souls.
E.F. Gregory is a mom of three young children. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband is a P.C.A. church planter.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray that God will give you a chance to be a part of the evangelism process in someone’s life this week.