The Gospel and the Souls of the Chinese People, Part 1

Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series by a house church pastor reflecting on the gospel and its impact on the Chinese people. The material was originally presented at the China Partnership annual conference in January 2015. Check back on Wednesday and Friday for the rest of the series.

To every pastor and every colleague, peace in our Lord. It is an honor to share with everyone here about the gospel and the souls of the Chinese people.

In 1807, a young British man by the name of Robert Morrison arrived at China. He was barely twenty-five years old and became the first Protestant missionary to China, with the goal of bringing the gospel to the Chinese souls who were still living under the dark shadow of death. The same concern for the souls of China could be felt again in the appeal of another young man, who arrived at China about fifty years later. This young man was Hudson Taylor.

Taylor once published a small pamphlet titled China’s Spiritual Need and Claims, in which he described a scene: if all the Chinese people lined up and passed in front of you, walking at the speed of thirty kilometers per day, endlessly day after day, year after year, it would take seventeen years and three months for all the people to walk by. These people are all walking toward destruction because they do not know Christ. Taylor pointed out that thirty-eight thousand people die in China each day, and one million die each year; their deaths are without the salvation of Christ. Because he recognized such need, and because of his love for the souls of China, Hudson Taylor dedicated his whole life to the salvation of Chinese souls. He once spoke a quote that inspired many people, “If I had a thousand pounds [of gold] China should have it – if I had a thousand lives, China should have them.”

Through the arduous work of many missionaries and Chinese Christians, in 1900 there were about one hundred thousand Christians in China. By 1949, Christians in China numbered about eight hundred thousand. The powerful hand of God was working in China, and many lost souls received salvation.

In the thirty years between 1949 and 1979, Christians in China entered into an extremely difficult period. Missionaries were forced to depart from China. Those who remained committed to their faith received ruthless persecution. They were isolated by society, denounced, tossed into prison, and some even suffered martyrdom. There was a period, the time of China’s Cultural Revolution, in which one could hardly see any signs of a church surviving in China. Many Christians abroad grew very concerned: where were the Christians in China? How were they? Would the church in China continue to exist?

But in the midst of this fiery suffering and trial, God preserved his children and protected his church. He also used this opportunity to purify his church, cleansing the faith of his children. This is the testimony of many Christians who went through this period of tribulation. In the midst of trial, they recognized their own weakness and corruption, seeing the shortcomings in their faith.

But they also saw the merciful and chastising hand of God. God purifies, but he also grants revival. Even in the most difficult times, one could often witness the power of the gospel. Some people turned to the Lord through the testimonies of many ordinary Christians and evangelists. House churches began to spring up. According to a poll from 1982, the number of Christians at that time had reached about three million, three times of the number in 1949. How astonishing!

After 1979, through God’s merciful hand, Chinese house churches continued to thrive. First came the revival of churches in rural villages, followed by the revival of city churches that began in 1989. The hearts of the intelligentsia, which consisted mainly of college students, were opened to God. Many of these Christians later became the backbone of city churches.

With this large historical backdrop, I will next share a few episodes that testify to how the gospel has been moving in the lives of individuals and groups, thereby bringing forgiveness and life to the souls of many Chinese people.


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Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors writing and thinking critically about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.

 

 

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Further Reading

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Nanjing: Love Under Pressure
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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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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Stories from Shenyang

About Qingdao

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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Stories from Qingdao

About Xiamen

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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Stories from Xiamen

About Chongqing

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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Stories from Chongqing

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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Stories from Nanjing

About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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Stories from Changchun

About Guangzhou

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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Stories from Guangzhou

About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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Stories from Kunming

About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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Stories from Shenzhen

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. 

Videos

Stories from Chengdu

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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Stories from Beijing

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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Stories from Shanghai

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