It Is Not That Simple: Evangelism Involves Worldview Deconstruction

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Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Simon Liu talked about the Chinese church’s increasing focus on personal, relational evangelism: gospel sharing that does not rely on tricks or strategies, but on Christians shaped in the cruciform image of Christ opening their lives to non-believers. Today, he talks about the long work of preparation that is necessary for most Chinese before they are prepared to follow the gospel. The issue of Chinese nationalism is very important for Mainland Chinese believers, who make a point of declaring their allegiance is to Christ before country (i.e. the Communist Party). For most Chinese, it is only once their old, political worldview has crumbled that they are willing to replace it with belief in the gospel.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.


China Partnership: You have a heart for unreached people groups in China. What is happening in those areas now?

Simon Liu: I have a friend who works with minority groups in rural areas. There, nothing changes; although some people have cell phones, they live as they did 100 years ago. We help with church planting and trainings for these minority groups, so they can plant churches among their people. They have a little bit more freedom, because everything is within their own circles.

In China, the Party cares about where they can get money. If you are poor, you are safe. These minority groups are not like the Uyghurs, they are in another area and have a bit more freedom. If no one can get anything good from them—why bother? Officials leave them alone. A lot of people who live far away are like their own, self-contained kingdom.


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“Evangelism is not just telling people that Jesus saves them. It is not that simple. We need to do a lot of work to open eyes, because people are blinded. In China, we opened the door to outsiders for about thirty years. People have just built connections with the world. Now they are cutting all the connections.


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CP: How can the global church pray for evangelism in China now?

Liu: China is not a regular political country—it is a religious country. The Communist Party is god. Rule of law is not for the people; it is for the Party. Understanding China from this perspective solves many puzzles.

Yesterday, I talked with twenty pastors. We discussed how evangelism is not just telling people that Jesus saves them. It is not that simple. We need to do a lot of work to open eyes, because people are blinded. In China, we opened the door to outsiders for about thirty years. People have just built connections with the world. Now they are cutting all the connections. The door has already closed ninety-eight percent of the way; only two percent is still open. 

The church should share the gospel by helping people know the truth. Two weeks ago, I preached the gospel, and criticized China a bit. People said, “Are you Chinese? If you are really Chinese, you shouldn’t say anything bad about China.”

We face a population that does not care about truth. They care about feelings. “China can kill a million people, but it’s fine. Because I am Chinese, I need to stand for China.” The best thing the Communist Party did for themselves was to say that, if you are Chinese, it doesn’t matter what China does—wrong or right, you need to stand for us. They have instilled this nationalism, and it is very dangerous.

As for evangelism, we need to help people understand their need to know what really happened in history. They need to think; not just believe what they are told. People need to understand how and why they are being told things, and if they are hearing the whole truth, or just part of the truth.

For the past two years, we have been holding online monthly meetings to help people process the information they receive and come to understand history, technology, and the law. We don’t use the word “evangelism,” but that is what it is. We invite experts from different areas to talk, for instance, about how to read and understand a book. We begin by trying to erase the standard that has been automatically instilled in people. We want to suggest that there is another way to think about things.

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“We are trying to poke holes in boxes so people can see a bit more. Evangelism requires a lot of pre-evangelism work. This involves the mind, and helping people detect lies. 

It is as if there is a cat in a box. Inside the box, it is dark. In order for the cat to escape, someone needs to poke a hole in the box. Then the cat will realize light exists; there is something different outside of the box, not just darkness everywhere. We are trying to poke holes in boxes so people can see a bit more. Evangelism requires a lot of pre-evangelism work. This involves the mind, and helping people detect lies. We focus on helping people understand the Party, understand people, and understand the world. Once they have got that, the door is open.

People already know they are worshipping the wrong gods. Everyone—the rich, the officials, the poor—is miserable! Everybody is miserable; but they enjoy pointing to others who are even more miserable. They think that is happiness. There is a lot of suffering. 

We need to pray for church leaders. Right now, leaders are a persecuted, targeted group. Recently, the government in some provinces forced monks to leave their temples and become secular people. They told these monks that they cannot rely on people’s mercy, that they are lazy people who need to contribute to their country. 

You can see what will happen next: everybody will become a tool of the Party.


Simon Liu is a church planter and works with church planting networks.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for Chinese people to know the truth, and for the truth to set them free.

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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