How A Church Began

How a church began

After a tragic turn of events in her family, a young woman seemed to have no choice but to go to an unfamiliar city and become a KTV girl to support her family. She experienced two failed marriages before returning to her hometown to open a hairdresser shop, and spread the gospel. This article tells the testimony of how a former KTV girl started the first church in the county seat.

Religious landscape in China

In order to gain an overview of the religious landscape in contemporary China under Communist rule, I have developed a theory of three markets (or spheres or zones) of religious activity – the red, the black and the grey – which correspond to whether particular religious groups, individuals and activities are considered legal (red), illegal (black), or are legally ambiguous (grey).

The Church in China – an introduction

This article is intended to be a brief introduction to the church in China for Chinese who have become Christians while overseas and want to understand something about the church in China before returning there. This article was published in 2017, but we include it again because it is a helpful introduction to the church in China.

The Chinese church’s new normal

Over the past four decades, the number of worshippers in Chinese churches grew steadily. As church membership grew, the church services matured and developed. Irregular worship times then became established Sunday meetings. Meetings moved from homes to larger rented spaces. Full-time pastors were hired, and land was acquired for church buildings. The church ministries also expanded beyond Sunday services to include teaching for children, care for the elderly, cross-cultural missions and community outreach. These four became standard ministries in churches across China. Despite their differences in legal status, house churches and Three-Self churches followed a similar pattern of growth. They came to resemble each other both in format and range of ministries, especially in the past decade or more.

New considerations in the new normal

For many years, the church has been required to abide by the principle
of ‘separation of church and state’ with Chinese characteristics. This meant that ministers could not publicly criticise the government nor talk about politics in their sermons. Therefore, whether in worship services in the open church or in gatherings in private homes, ministers would only preach the Bible and avoid criticising the government or talk about politics. However, today, the rule of ‘the separation of church and state’ is taken away and ministers are required to talk about socialism according to government trainings and standards.

Untangling the complexity of Chinese Bible translations

I often have theology students or believers in churches ask me: “Which Chinese Bible translation is the best? What are your thoughts?” During the past 20-30 years, a few different editions of the Chinese Bible have been published. But currently, in Chinese churches, almost everyone uses the Chinese Union Version (hereafter CUV) as the standard. Only a very few Chinese Christians have tried other Chinese Bible translations. Among this extremely small group, most only use the other versions for reference. Currently there is a version of the CUV with updated punctuation, and a revised version, but most Chinese Christians still largely use the traditional CUV.

WeDevote: An app in exile

WeDevote is China’s most popular Bible app, but Communist officials keep trying to shut it out of the country. In July, a 6-year-old Chinese Bible app called WeDevote marked a major milestone: 10 million installations. With its slick design, respect for copyrights and curated Bible reading plans and devotionals, WeDevote stands apart from other Bible applications for smartphones and tablets available in China.

Churches, posters and State propaganda

Like Christians during the Republican era, Chinese believers today also would like to shape the values and course of their nation. In the current environment, however, their ability to publicly present an alternative to the official Party ideals is constrained. Since 2018 the Chinese Communist Party has been pursuing a policy of sinicization (中国化) in religious affairs, a process described by government officials in terms of the “four entrances 四进”:

Together Apart

Together Apart

As I write, according to the number of confirmed cases, it appears that many countries are where we were in China two months ago: The USA today has the number of confirmed cases China had 7 weeks ago; Australia and Canada are 8 weeks behind; the UK 7½ weeks. The pandemic situation across various African and South American countries is also rapidly evolving. Here, for you outside of China, is what we’ve learned regarding church and international student ministry in this season.

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Easter in China

Easter and Qing Ming – celebrating life and death at Easter

Why seek the living among the dead? The tomb is not the place to search for life. The death conveyed by Qingming and the life conveyed by Easter represent the despair of the world and the hope of the Christian faith. Because of Jesus, death is dead!

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Coronavirus: Threat and Opportunity

Returning to Australia from China during the Coronavirus outbreak: a personal experience

When the news came that Australia had also closed its borders to all Chinese nationals who did not hold a permanent residency, my heart sank. You see, more than half of the 200,000 Chinese international students are stuck in China. That includes a large number of the student leaders and students in various university FOCUS Christian groups, including my own group at Sydney University.

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Returning to Australia from China during the Coronavirus outbreak: a personal experience

By Jaz – a Thriving Turtles Team member

Each day, my family and I monitored the Central Chinese national news on the recent outbreak of Coronavirus. Each hour I would cross the great fire wall of China hoping to get some unfiltered news of the virus’ latest development. Yet despite the censored, cheery and hopeful nature of the Chinese national news, it seemed more transparent and detailed than any news coming from across the globe.

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Sharing the Good News

Portrait of an overseas Chinese student

Xiao Mei visited a local British church nearby where she joined a Global Café for the possibility of meeting new friends and learning to speak English. The relaxed atmosphere encouraged her to return, and the friendly church people invited her to learn more about the faith sustaining them. Over the next few months, Xiao Mei made many friends and really enjoyed the worship services. She became a Christian at a gospel event, but she admitted that she was mainly attracted by the genuine love and care of the Christians she met at church.

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Becoming a Christian Overseas

Stories from Chinese millennials: interview with a disappointed dreamer

Last year I spent time interviewing a group of Chinese graduate students I regularly met with for bible study. With the permission of those interviewed, I published a series called “Stories from Chinese Millennials” – this is a late addition to that series. None of the students interviewed were professing Christians, though they are all in various stages of spiritual seeking, and all have now returned to China.

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Peace and Preparation for Difficult Times

Peace and preparation – the kingdom of God is near

In this article, Wang Ziyu shares from personal experience about one summer that taught Wang the value of preparedness. Wang likens preparedness for the school year with readiness for the coming of God’s kingdom. Article in English and Chinese

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Work & Career

Being salt and light to influence society

Many Christians in China today are seeking to be salt and light in their communities and in society. But what does that look like? In the translated article below, originally posted on the mainland site Christian Times, the author summarizes a talk given by a pastor in Henan Province on the topic of being salt and light.

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