U.S. Ministry Prepares Chinese House Churches for 'Jerusalem'

'The Back to Jerusalem' campaign is not something new to most Chinese Christians, but, nonetheless, it is growing says a U.S-based ministry that helps 'underground' house church congregations lear
( [email protected] ) May 19, 2006 03:08 PM EDT

"The Back to Jerusalem" campaign is not something new to most Chinese Christians, but, nonetheless, it is growing says a U.S-based ministry that helps "underground" house church congregations learn the basics in becoming a new missionary.

"When the large house church movement began to mature they picked up on the theme again and realized the church in China does need to send missionaries out," says Lowell Williamson, OMS International Asia Field Director, as quoted in Mission Network News (MNN), which often reports on missionary activities worldwide.

"And, they feel like with the right training that they can evangelize even better that westerners could," Lowell added.

"The Back to Jerusalem" campaign started with churches in China in the 1940s, but lost momentum when hostilities with Japan gave way to the Second World War.

"The house church (congregation) feels like they've gone through difficulties, including persecution. They know how to survive in tough situations," said Lowell.

China’s "underground" house churches continue to grow rapidly in numbers especially in the rural sectors where many peasants have convert to Christianity, according to various reports from various international religious organizations such as Open Doors.

Some "underground" house churches have started their own Bible schools and training centers in pockets all over China. As for now, few from China’s house churches have ventured into Muslim nations, Lowell explained in the MNN report.

"More are in training as the movement is growing. Even in our own seminary probably half of them really feel they are called to be missionaries," said Lowell.

"Many of the first missionaries will be going as so called 'tentmakers.' They can go as businessmen. They can go as experts in various areas and get established as a business person and then use that as a platform."

It is not known exactly how many Christian missionaries work in the Middle East as many do not openly report their presence to the public, given the sensitive nature of their work.

Persecution of Christians in the Middle East have increased especially in Arab nations, where Muslim families are encouraged and even obligated to perform "honor-killings" for any relatives whom converted to Christianity.

The "Jerusalem" campaign does not confine Chinese missionaries to just working in the biblically historical city, but in other areas of the world especially the Middle East, where Christianity has the least presence.

"So, they feel like they have some of the qualifications that are need for missionaries who would infiltrate into those Muslim countries," said Lowell, pointing out that U.S. Christians must pray more for China’s "underground" house church, which is preparing to raise Chinese missionaries to go abroad despite receiving persecution.

The Indiana-based OMS International started life as the Oriental Missionary Society in 1901, whose co-founder Charles Cowman found his vision for world evangelism while working as a missionary in Japan.

Over the last century, OMS International’s has worked extensively in mission fields in over 45 nations including China.