Xi Jinping’s Plan for Church Growth in the World

Sa Zhong Zi (meaning “sow seeds”) is the pseudonym for an American living in China assisting with the support and strengthening of the Chinese house church.

The title of this piece is meant to sound provocative but the fact is that the recent policy changes in China that have now begun to be implemented have had a dramatic effect on both the Chinese church (mostly the house church) as well as the foreign missionary community in Mainland China. Scores of missionaries have left China or have been forced out through revoked visas and boarder entry refusals, sometimes accompanied by interrogation and even detainment. For our Chinese brothers and sisters in the house church, many have seen their meeting venues for Sunday worship forcibly blocked which has caused a large number of churches to break up into smaller home gatherings.

Reports are mixed with respect to how people are weathering these storms. Some are doing better than others but everyone is on the lookout for what will happen next. 

I would like to recognize that this is not universal. Some cities and towns report relatively little repression while other cities have seen heavy handed activity with church leaders in detention for up to ten months without a court trial, as in the case with Pastor Wang Yi, the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. Even in the cities where repression is heavier, not all churches experience the same level of pressure. I have heard from pastors in Chengdu that have experienced relatively little in the way of repression.

Nonetheless, large scale persecution and repression has become the new norm in China and it cannot be denied. While the church may not be defined solely by this narrative of suffering, it is clearly the case that it is alive, well, and quite real. It is still a factor in how the house church identifies and defines herself. It is not my goal is this small piece to argue this case in particular but rather to acknowledge it in the face of those attempts to downplay this important element.


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Acknowledging this fact, I would like to simply ask a question. Since we believe that God is sovereign, what is his plan and how will he use President Xi’s recent troubling changes?

From the human perspective we can only guess, but it seems likely that things will unfold and become clearer over time. However, for now it is painful to walk with our friends from a distance (for many of us) who are going through difficulties. Many of us have been forcibly removed from both relationships with our expat co-workers, Chinese church partners, and even our possessions. 

God, what are you doing?

While answers may not be entirely clear, we know at least one thing for sure. In redemptive history and in the history of the church, when God’s people are forcibly scattered, the ultimate result is church growth. 

In 2012 John Micklethwait, then the editor of The Economist, described why he believed China would become the world’s biggest Christian country within a few years. In his commentary he described the reasons for the growth of Christianity in China which included the dispersing of larger gatherings into smaller groups. One can’t help but think about Acts 8:1, “And Saul was there, giving approval to [Stephen’s] death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Luke follows up this statement in Acts 8:4 by noting that those who were scattered began preaching wherever they went.

Both in the dispersed community of foreign workers (many that had formerly served in China are relocating to other countries to continue their service) and among China’s local house churches, who are forming small groups, we see the potential for a greater impact for the kingdom. This was not any one person’s particular plan. But isn’t that how we see God working throughout history time and time again?

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Further Reading

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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