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China is a country on the move and it’s not an easy place to keep up with. What might have been true about China economically, socially, and religiously twenty years ago is almost certainly different today.
In addition to the changes taking place within the country’s borders, the Chinese people are changing as they engage with the outside world. More Chinese are traveling or living abroad than ever before. Not long ago, new Chinese expats were mostly graduate students or visiting scholars conducting research abroad; now there are also significant numbers of undergraduate and high school students leaving their homeland and joining the Chinese diaspora. Because of China’s growing role in the global economy, its people are no longer limited to study as a means of travel. Many go abroad for work and pleasure, for example Africa and Europe host significant Chinese communities.
If you live in North America, chances are you’ve noticed this trend. You may have a new Chinese family in your suburban neighborhood. Perhaps you hear Chinese spoken excitedly during sales at your local shopping mall. In some parts of America, you are almost guaranteed to have a Chinese student in your college class. If you work in the science or technology industries, you may pass by an office door (or two, or three) with a Chinese name on the placard. Eating out at your favorite local Chinese restaurant is probably no longer the closest contact you have with the Chinese community.
How are you responding to this?
Not everyone is naturally gifted at cross-cultural relationships. Sometimes they can be quite difficult. But as part of the multi-ethnic Kingdom of God, we believe all people can be empowered to reach across the cultural boundaries that so often separate us. All of God’s children can learn to love their neighbors.
Wherever you are, you live in both a global and a local reality. In our globalized 21st century, ministry is never fully “here” nor “there,” but rather interconnected in new and unprecedented ways. What occurs in the Chinese mainland will greatly impact the Chinese expat community around the world, and what the expat community experiences and learns abroad will have serious and long-term consequences back home.
With this in mind, we at the China Partnership hope to help educate, inform, and encourage anyone who engages cross-culturally with Chinese people in Christ’s name. Every Christian who encounters the Chinese community has a role to play whether you are working a nine-to-five or ministering to Chinese professionally, and we all need to take seriously the Church’s call to serve the “stranger” within our communities in the spirit of Leviticus 19:34 and Deuteronomy 10:19.
Through this blog, we hope to add another perspective on China to an already diverse online community writing about the country. Our goal is to provide those serving China’s people with practical help concerning Chinese culture and its church; ministry issues and resources; and global-local kingdom realities. We hope this will be a place for people to share, learn, and discuss missions vision and strategy.
Our regular blog contributors have either an intimate understanding of ministry to Chinese communities or they are experts in the growing field of global-local ministry. We are excited to bring you the voices of China Partnership staff and trainers, as well as experts in Chinese language, culture, and history. Above all, the blog hopes to demonstrate the multi-voiced dialogue inherent to global-local ministry and will be highlighting both Chinese and American voices on the many topics we cover.
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Hannah serves as the blog editor for the China Partnership. She is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and works with China Outreach Ministries, serving students in the Boston metro area. She first traveled to China in 2005 and has cared deeply for the country and its church ever since.