In September 2016 the China Source Quarterly Journal was devoted to the issue of helping Chinese Returnees thrive as Christians after returning to China.
Living in another country can be a life-changing experience. The longer the stay and the greater the immersion into that country’s social life, the deeper and more lasting the effects. Adapting to the new culture, making foreign friends, learning a new set of behaviors, and speaking in a foreign language shape the identity and values of sojourners in ways that can never be undone.
The changes that overseas sojourners experience may go beyond the necessary adaptation to a new language and culture; for many, the experience creates an openness to new ideas, new values, and even a new way of understanding life.
When the time finally comes to return home, the newly-arriving returnees often discover that the behaviors, identity, tastes, and values they acquired overseas do not transfer easily into the home culture. Many of the changes they experienced, including some that are highly valued, must now be reversed for the sake of fitting in.
Now what if, among the many changes experienced in a foreign land, some of the sojourners have converted to the Christian faith? This is certainly the case for thousands of Chinese students and scholars who have studied abroad over the past three decades. For those yet to return, how will their faith, acquired while overseas, and often learned from Westerners in a foreign language, be brought home to become part of their daily life in China? Will these new believers, as returnees, view their new faith as one of the changes that “must now be reversed for the sake of fitting in”? Or will they discover how to be both Chinese and Christian, finding their places of service in the churches of China, perhaps via returnee fellowships made up of others who, like themselves, came to faith while studying abroad?
You can read all the articles here. We’d like to draw your attention to the following articles that are particularly helpful:
This article is a good summary of many of the issues that Chinese Returnees face.
by Henry E. T.
This articles looks at the challenges for Returnees in committing to a Church when they return to China.
by Lydia Song
This article looks at cooperation between China and western Christians in helping returnees to be a blessing to the Church in China