In Part One of this series, we considered the importance of discipling Chinese students as Chinese believers who are prepared to live in a Chinese context (contextualized discipleship). In Part Two, we discussed the need for pre-return training to prepare returnees for the issues they will face when they are home. In this third part we will focus on how to help returnees settle in a church or fellowship where they can serve and be supported in their daily Christian walk. Continue reading “What does it take for returnees to thrive – Part 3”
Link to Chinese article: 中文： http://behold.oc.org/?p=34504
Author: Pastor Dong Jia-Hua
Translation of article in “Behold” magazine by Keith Ranger
He says – “I recently attended a Conference of workers from a number of different places in North America on how to do lasting and effective evangelistic ministry in the lives of international students, especially in the area of being up to date and not behind the times in reaching out to those from China. The expressed need was for relevant and engaging methodology and really making an effort to keep up to date with ‘where these people are now coming from’ in terms of their expectations and priorities. Things can, and do, change so fast! We cannot, and must not, live in the past!
By Devas and Devas, 2015 – used with permission
Marriage, like so much else in China, has undergone profound changes in recent years. In the past, tradition, social expectations and poverty all tended to oblige couples to stick together, whatever the reality of their relationship. Marriages were generally contracted at a young age, married children usually lived with parents, and divorce was rare. Today, in a much more mobile society, grown‐up children may live far from their parents, and opportunities for multiple relationships are much greater. Living together before marriage has become commonplace, at least in cities. Divorce has reached levels similar to that in Western countries. Abortion is widespread, particularly where the one‐child policy is enforced. At the same time, parents put huge pressure on young people to get married and produce a child. All this presents great challenges to those returning to China who have become Christian believers overseas, particularly since the expectation would be that they marry soon after returning. This article is intended to help those working with Chinese students overseas to understand more about the situation of marriage in China, and to encourage them to address this subject with pre‐returnees, so they will be more prepared for the challenges they will encounter.
Going home is not what I thought it would be: The unique challenges faced by returnees
This article was written for the Mission Round Table journal by one of our Thriving Turtles team members and is a good overview of the problems faced by Chinese returnees. You can read and download the article here:
The theme for this edition of the Mission Round Table journal is “Diaspora Returnees” so you can look at the whole edition here:
In recent months, news articles have pointed out developments in censorship and communication in China, and I have been asked many times for advice on how to communicate with Chinese people, both here in Australia and in China. There is no easy answer to these questions, but let me try and lay out some of the known facts and then consider what options are available.
In part one of this series we considered the importance of discipling Chinese students as Chinese believers who are prepared to live in a Chinese context (contextualized discipleship). In this second part we consider the need for pre-return training to prepare returnees for the issues they will face on returning home. Experience has shown that there are four key topics that need to be addressed:
We have pointed out that in order to thrive in China, Chinese returnees must be discipled as Chinese Christians who are prepared to live in a Chinese context. This is called contextualised discipleship. Below are links to two resources we have found that explain this important idea.
What is discipleship?
This 12 minute video from gotherefor.com shows Tony Payne from Matthias Media giving a good explanation of Christian discipleship.
What is contextualisation?
What is the importance of considering culture and contextualisation when doing ministry with Chinese? In this podcast Australian Sam Chan and American Jackson Wu discuss these issues . Note: this podcast talks about some complex issues so you may want to listen to it a few times in order to follow their arguments.
Stuart Bullington has been working with Chinese students in the US, Asia and the UK for more than 20 years. He suggests that students need to be prepared in three ways in order to succeed when they return to China[i]. Firstly, they need to be discipled as a Chinese believer (contextualized discipleship). Secondly, they need to receive specific training in order to understand the issues they will face on returning home and to develop coping strategies (pre-return training). Thirdly, they need to be introduced into networks of churches and other believers in China (networking). In this article we will consider the first of these – contextualized discipleship.
By David Xing, November 2016
In April 2016 Thriving Turtles conducted a survey amongst Chinese International students at four universities in Sydney: The University of NSW; The University of Sydney; The University of Science and Technology (UTS); and Macquarie University. The survey was targeted at Christian students who were recruited through on-campus Christian ministries of AFES FOCUS, Power to Change and Mandarin Bible Study groups.
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.