Chinese & World Mission
Written by Morley & Sophie Lee; translated by d.s.
The year 2007 is very significant in Chinese church history because it is the year commemorating the 200th anniversary of the gospel reaching China through Rev. Robert Morrison. In the past 2,000 years, there were four attempts to bring the gospel to China. However, the first three attempts failed to make any long-term impact in the Chinese history. Only until 1807 was the seed of the gospel finally sowed on the Chinese land, taking root and bearing fruit.
In the past 2,000 years, numerous Christians have dedicated their lives to world mission in response to the Great Commission. Looking into the more recent mission history, we see the mission endeavour of German in the 18th century, that of British in the 19th century and that of American in the 20th century. Western missionaries willingly left their comfort zone, travelling to distant unknown lands and meeting foreign people groups - solely for the sake of the gospel. Up till now, Christians account for 1/3 of the world population.
Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Mt. 24:14). According to the latest statistics, there are as much as 1.8 billion people in the world who have never heard the gospel as yet. Who should go to share the gospel with this huge number of unreached people? Western missionaries as "usual"? How about Chinese Christians? Have we ever been saddened by the grim prospect of the other people groups' eternal damnation? How long shall the absence / lukewarm response of Chinese Christians in world mission linger?
Thirty years ago, a pastor arrived in Taiwan from the States. As he was moved to encourage Chinese Christians to take up the "gospel baton," he wrote an article, "Where Are You, Chinese People?" After reading the article, we were not only moved by his zeal and passion, we also felt so ashamed of our fellow countrymen for failing to participate in the task of world mission. The author of the mentioned article is: Rev. James Hudson Taylor III - the great-grandson of Rev. James Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission.
In the past 200 years, Western missionaries have spread the gospel among Chinese, who have thus become citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom in God's grace. However, the Chinese Church is merely a "Blessed Church" so far, receiving blessing instead of giving. When can the Chinese Church become a "Church of Blessing"? Isn't the Bible reads: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Ac. 20:35)?
Chinese are not only blessed with bright minds, most of us are also hard-working and quick to learn new languages. Whether for survival or a better life, Chinese people would strive to achieve the goals against all odds. This is evidenced by the thriving businesses run by Chinese people in different regions of South East Asia.
About 100 years ago, Chinese arrived in North America with a determined spirit to succeed, sweating over on railways, in quarries, laundries, etc. for the betterment of the lives of their next generation. Nowadays, most Chinese there are listed among professionals such as scientists, engineers, doctors, professors, computer experts as well as entrepreneurs and businessmen. Can we say this big change in Chinese' vocational paradigm happened in the past century is due to pure chance?
In the Bible we read about the story of Esther, a Jewish girl became the queen of the Persian kingdom - did it happen by chance? God forbids! All things are indeed in the hand of the writer of history, i.e. our Lord in Heaven. As Esther's uncle, Mordecai, asked her: "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Est. 4:14)
Oh, Chinese the blessed, don't we have a higher aim other than that for our own benefit? Have we become Christians completely by chance?
Half of the 1.2 billion African are children. According to the 1999 statistics, there were as much as 95,000,000 children contracted malaria every year and only one child out of six could make it to the age of 5.... English has become the official language in at least 18 countries in Africa. As Chinese around the global are caught in the English-learning fanatic, have we ever asked if that could be for a higher aim?
Among the 2.3 billion unreached people, the 1.3 billion Muslims are by far the group that is most resistant to the gospel. Although the Muslim world refuses to open itself up, missionaries manage to gain access to those countries through various creative means. In areas where the gospel cannot be shared openly, missionaries would live out the gospel in their daily lives and demonstrate the love of Christ through genuine friendship with the nationals, and thus subtly imprinting the gospel on the hearts of the Muslims.
In the 21st century, there are many learned Chinese Christians all over the world, is it due to sheer chance? Of course not! It presents a golden opportunity to spread the gospel to the end of the world!
In Seize the Baton, Rev. Richard Webster, a retired American missionary, exhorted Chinese Christians not to be self-centered, labouring over worldly plans, but to take heed of the Great Commission and seize the "gospel baton" for His glory.
Chinese Christians might be hired late as the workers who were hired at the eleventh hour in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1-16), let us serve faithfully with those who have started first, striving to work to His satisfaction!
Many Western missiologists believe the 21st century will be the time we see most mission endeavour done by Chinese people. Moreover, they also predict that by 2025, China will be the country that sends the largest number of missionaries out. Just imagine only if one out of every thousand among the 50,000,000 Christians in China will respond to the Great Commission, there will be as much as 50,000 missionaries added to the army of the Heavenly Kingdom!
Chinese, it is truly the time to rise up!
(This article is translated from Issue #5 of Behold, a Chinese journal published quarterly by Campus Evangelical Fellowship-Overseas Campus Magazine. www.oc.org)
(After serving at Campus Evangelical Fellowship in