China on Mission

by Steve D. on

Articles 3 min read
Habakkuk 2:14 Luke 13:29

Many people think of China as the mission field, and indeed with over a billion lost people that is indeed true. However, many may not realize that the Chinese Church is fast becoming a global mission force. In fact, with an estimated Christian population of over 100 million there may already be more genuine believers in Jesus in Communist China than in the United States.

Permit me to lay out a quick history lesson. When his Communist Party came to power in 1949, Mao ZeDong expelled all foreign missionaries. For the next 30 years, China remained a tightly closed, agrarian society with little contact with the outside world, much like North Korea is today. What a far cry from the first-world, modern China full of glitzy skyscrapers, superhighways, and the world’s largest high-speed train network we see now! After 1979, though, when the U.S. established diplomatic relations with Mainland China and foreigners were allowed to re-enter the country, many assumed they would find a dying Church or no church at all.

Not at all! Instead, the opposite occurred. China watchers were shocked to discover a thriving Church with revival, oftentimes accompanied by dramatic demonstrations of the Spirit’s power, sweeping parts of the country. Could it be that God was proving that He didn’t need missionaries, much less Western workers, to fuel what may very well be the world’s greatest revival since Pentecost?

Of course, the staunchly atheistic Communist government in Beijing has always done its best to slow the church’s growth. Foreign missionaries are routinely interrogated, threatened, and deported. Local pastors and ministry workers likewise experience even harsher treatment, and some are even tortured and imprisoned, while still others have been martyred. Underground churches are often shut down by officials, with believers and pastors dragged off for lengthy interrogations or worse. Such persecution, which seemed to be abating somewhat in the early 2000s, has now ramped up to unprecedented levels in the last several years.

Despite the persecution, or perhaps because of it, God seems to be raising up His church in China to play a unique role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, God’s mission of filling the earth “with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Many underground churches have become active participants in the “Back to Jerusalem” movement, a campaign whereby Chinese missionaries are planting churches throughout unreached areas between China and Jerusalem, in an effort to complete the Great Commission in the process. I’ll never forget a conversation I had years ago with one such mission leader. “God has used American and British missionaries to take the gospel around the world for the past couple hundred years, and we praise God for that. But now it is our turn,” he said.

While there remains a great need for the Chinese church to be mobilized toward God’s mission and for the raising up of thousands of Chinese goers, we rejoice in the many reports of Chinese missionaries laboring faithfully among unreached people groups inside China, throughout Asia, and beyond. To God be the glory!

About the Author

Steve D. has been in vocational ministry for over 25 years and has spent the majority of that time either living in East Asia or otherwise focused on mobilizing the church in East Asia. He and his family serve with Via, where they are focused on seeing the 3 billion people with no access to the gospel reduced to zero.