Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Hundred Years Later

Hudson Taylor opened up the whole of China to the good news of Jesus Christ. Less than 50 years after his death all missionaries were forced out of China and the Chinese Christians left behind were bullied, tortured and killed. Did the Church die and Christianity wither away to nothing but a few old people clinging to their memories? NO!

The past more-than-50 years has seen a revolution that the western world, never mind the Chinese communist government, thought could never happen. The church has flourished and grown beyond all imagination. When one Chinese Christian leader was asked what he expected the growth of the Church to look like in the next 20 or 30 years, he replied that all of China would be Christian. Amazing!

Another amazing thing is taking place amongst the Christians in China. They are no longer the greatest mission field but rather are poised to become the greatest missionary sender.

I started reading a new book last night, Back to Jerusalem. Christianity began in Jerusalem and, for the most part, has travelled in a westerly direction—to Africa, Europe, the Americas and finally to the Pacific and inland to China. But what is west of China? The countries with the greatest need and the fewest opportunities to know about Jesus. And so the Church in China has grabbed a vision to complete the westward movement of Christianity through these staunchly Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu nations until the good news reaches back to where it began—Jerusalem.

It is a dangerous mission but danger is nothing new to the Chinese Church. It has grown and flourished under more danger than we in the west can conceive. The intention is to send 100,000 missionaries to this needy area. A hundred thousand! Have all the countries of the west combined sent that many through the two thousand years we’ve known Christ? And yet one nation, knowing Christ for barely a hundred years, persecuted and crushed for half that time, is pouring itself out to nations we seem unable to reach. Praise God! Hudson Taylor must surely be dancing with the angels in heaven!

Father, thank you for China and the incredible faith the Christians there have developed. Thank you that your Church has flourished and multiplied in unbelievable ways. Thank you for the vision you have given these dear brothers and sisters of ours and their very real willingness to pour out their lives so that others may know you. Beside these giants of faith, we in the west are nothing. Forgive us, Lord, for our puniness of faith, our fears and our self-centred materialism. Come to us anew and fill us with life!

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