How Sharing the Gospel in China Impacted My Attitude Toward Evangelism

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Editor’s note: This month, we will be praying for and sharing articles related to evangelism. In this two-part series, a former cross-cultural worker shares how sharing the gospel with his friends in China has freed him to pursue evangelism the rest of his life.


One week after stepping off the plane in China, I found myself on a hike with Wang, the first college student I happened to meet. I was a recent college graduate, and in large part because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, decided to spend a year sharing Jesus with Chinese college students.

I arrived in China speaking zero Mandarin, and incredibly inexperienced in sharing my faith. By the end of my three-hour hike with Wang that day, I learned that the Holy Spirit is more than sufficient to cross cultures, break through language barriers, and make up for any inadequacies I felt in my ability to effectively share my faith.

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“The Holy Spirit is more than sufficient to cross cultures, break through language barriers, and make up for any inadequacies I felt in my ability to effectively share my faith.

As we slowly climbed through the heat and humidity of summer in southern China, the first thing that struck me as Wang and I began to talk about Jesus was how much easier it was to talk with him about Christ than it had been for me, six weeks earlier, to share Jesus my college classmates. I was in a different country, completely reliant on my friend’s not-so-great English to communicate, and I clearly stuck out as a foreigner. Yet we were laughing and sharing life stories with each other as if we had been friends for years.

As I’ve reflected on this phenomenon over the years, I think there is something disarming about being completely immersed in a culture and language you didn’t grow up in. When you become hyper-aware of your “otherness,” you also become hyper-aware how little control you have over influencing how others perceive you. In your own culture, you can dress like others dress or direct conversation in culturally-acceptable directions. (For example, in the South, just start a conversation with, “Nick Saban…” and then sit back and let others carry the conversation. In Los Angeles, ask someone if they’ve discovered any new restaurants recently.) However, when you can’t fake it culturally, and you can’t change your physical appearance, you have no pretense that you can fake your way into fitting in.


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The gospel message is inherently offensive: “You are dead in your sin. You’ve offended the God of the universe. The only way you can escape eternal judgment is to put your faith in Jesus. Accepting this Jesus as your Lord and Savior also means you’re signing up to give your life away for the sake of others hearing and believing in this Jesus. People are going to hate you because you find your identity in him. But don’t worry, it’s totally worth it!”

As Wang and I made our way up the mountain, being free from winning his approval through my own social skills freed me to proclaim the offensiveness of the gospel more boldly than I ever had before. When I shared my faith with my friends in college, I had done so with the fear that I was putting our relationship on the line. If they rejected the gospel, I thought they would reject me as well. I wanted to make the gospel less offensive and more appealing by watering it down for them. I justified this by telling myself I needed to keep an audience with them. If I offended them with the good news of Jesus, what if they bailed on me and never got to hear it again?

Sharing my faith with Wang that day helped me to understand what God told Samuel about the people’s rejection of what God wanted for them: “And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’”

When you share the gospel with someone, and they reject it, they are not ultimately rejecting you. They are rejecting God. I don’t have to carry that weight.

Living and sharing my faith in a completely different context than the one I grew up in helped me to see and live in my true identity. There is nothing like being a citizen of another country and culture to help you experience the truth that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

In Ephesians 4, Paul says: “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over and through all and in all.”

One.

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“God will save people from every corner of the earth, and his chosen means of accomplishing this is through his body. Through you, believer in Christ.

After I shared with Wang who Jesus is and what he had done for me personally, I asked him if he would like to place his faith in Christ as well. A six-week-younger Michael probably wouldn’t have done that. But during the course of our three-hour hike, the Holy Spirit revealed himself to me in one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I’ve ever had. I saw the Spirit transcend culture. I saw him laugh at language barriers. I saw him exalted as Lord, Creator and Savior of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. The LORD is one. He has called us, with one Spirit, into one body, saved us by one Lord through one faith, and we share in his one baptism to the glory of our one God and Father of all.

There’s a promise in that incredible truth, and there is also a missional call. God will save people from every corner of the earth, and his chosen means of accomplishing this is through his body. Through you, believer in Christ.


Michael Gregory is a church planter in the Los Angeles area.

 

FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION

Pray for opportunities to share the good news of the gospel with those God places in your path today.

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Further Reading

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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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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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