“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8)
Depth and width are intimately linked. A field may grow wide quickly, but without roots it will wither just as quickly. But, as Jesus himself points out in the parable of the sower, good seeds with good roots cannot help but spread and produce a harvest far larger than the original seeds could have ever produced themselves.
In other words, deep roots lead to great fruit.
As we enter into 2021, our second overarching prayer request at China Partnership flows directly out of the first. If the first is that the gospel would go deeper in China, then the second is that the gospel would go wider in China.
China is a country of 1.4 billion people. Conservative estimates are that there are 68 million Christians in China, roughly 5 percent of the country. This means there are still a staggering 1.3 billion people in China who don’t know Christ.
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What’s more, over the decades China’s campaign of ruthless secularism has systematically attempted to strip away all traditional values and spirituality from its own foundation, leaving its people hungry for meaning. It is a country ripe for the gospel.
Yet, at the same time, the challenges mounted against the church are greater than they have been in many years. COVID-19 has forced the church into greater isolation, even as its government seeks to suppress all perceived “foreign” religions and bring Christianity more tightly under its control. Even though the pressure and persecution is increasing, people’s hearts are crying out for hope and meaning, there is still ample space for the churches to reach out to the lost neighbors, colleagues, relatives, and friends. In the face of such challenges and needs, man-made programs and initiatives are not enough. There is no human solution for winning converts among the lost in China. The only solution is the gospel. The only cure is Jesus Christ himself.
Thus, the two prayers — that the gospel would go deeper in China and that the gospel would go wider in China — prove to be complementary. The more churches and church leaders are transformed by the gospel, the more this gospel change will affect the lives of those around them. The more Chinese Christians fall deeply in love with the person and work of Jesus, the more they will show this transforming love to each other and the world. By the strength of the gospel of Christ, they will form gospel communities fueled by the Spirit and empowered by mutual love, and will in turn seek to share with their neighbors and communities the good news of Christ.
At China Partnership, we believe that this is the most biblically strategic way to impact the foundations of China with the gospel. There is no silver bullet, no shortcut; only Jesus himself can bring transformation. Indeed, Chinese house church leaders have expressed the desire not to shrink back from the call to make disciples, and we pray that God will give them the strength to move forward in humble conviction, following his call without fear. Even as the pressure against the house church continues to mount, we know that God has not abandoned his people.
As we pray for ministry in China this year, will you join us in praying that the gospel would go wider? Pray that the church in China would be deeply-rooted in the person of Jesus, and that these deep roots would lead to great fruit. Pray that more churches would be planted and that the lost would be found. Pray that, even in this season of darkness, the church would shine as a light in this dark world, boldly proclaiming that Jesus Christ is our king!