LOS ANGELES- Chinese evangelicals express their concern over the rising demand in overseas Chinese mission fields, particularly among unreached nations and Muslims.
On Friday, some 100 Chinese Christians who have burden for world missions gathered at the Mandarin Baptist Church of Pasadena, Los Angeles, for a three-day Mission & Prayer Retreat organized by USA Care Ministries International (CMI) and Campus Evangelical Fellowship (CEF) in partnership with Chinese Coordination Center of World Evangelism (CCCOWE) and some other leading evangelical Chinese mission organizations.
In a session with the title "Mission Ministries in Overseas Chinese Churches " led by CCCOWE USA director Rev. David Chi, representatives from different mission organizations gave presentation about the harvest fields in some unreached or Muslims nations. Not only has it aimed to highlight the raising demand for mission workers, but it has also mobilized people to pray.
A minister from a mission group which works in Southeast Asia shared about the diverse culture and religions of the region. The major challenge of Southeast Asia mission is the non-Christian faiths- Islam and Buddhism- that have dominated most countries. Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore are mostly Muslims while Buddhism is most common in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. Yet that also implies a great mission harvest field there. Currently, North Thailand, North Burma and North Laos are slowing opening up as gospel centers are set up.
According to some latest statistics, over 90 percent of the Chinese population in all Southeast Asia countries is not Christian. Therefore, there is an urgent need to send Chinese missionaries to Southeast Asia to reach out to them. Christians are also urged to pray for overseas students originated from Southeast Asia that they will accept the gospel and go back to their own countries to serve their people.
Elder Wong from Luke Service International then introduced the mission strategy in "Silk Road" of China. Located at the very west part of China leading all the way to Central Asia and down to Middle East, Silk Road is considered a strategic zone for opening the door of the Gospel to Muslims, according to Wong.
Elder Wong prepared the case study of Kyrgyzstan. The major religion of the 4.5 million-strong population is Islam. Apart from Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Russian, a very special group of Chinese people called Dungan live in Kyrgyzstan. There are around 90,000-130,000 of Dungan people and are all Muslims.
As one of the countries on the Silk Road, Kyrgyzstan is situated south of Kazakhstan and north of Afghanistan, and also connected to the world’s center of Islam. Therefore, Wong suggested that Kyrgyzstan has the potential to open the door of the Gospel to the world’s 130 billions-strong Muslims. In addition, from China through Kyrgyzstan to Jerusalem on the Silk Road, the "Back to Jerusalem" vision to bring back the gospel to the ends of the earth can be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, Wong urged believers to pray for the political stability and visa application in Kyrgyzstan. The length of the visa granted to visitors has decreased from one year to three months recently and it has brought inconvenience to mission work. Also, doctors, nurses, medical professionals, teachers (English, Chinese, computer or other professions) and missionaries are all much needed.
"Even though it is very difficult to open up such a country, God’s work is always beyond our imagination," Wong challenged the participants. "Muslim represents around one-fourth of the world’s total population, how can we neglect such a big harvest field?"
CCCOWE USA director Rev. David Chi portrayed the overall picture of Chinese missions in Central and South Americas. Since the Qing Dynasty, business relationship has started to form between China and Peru. Nowadays, in Peru, there are around 300 thousands Chinese and over 6,000 Chinese restaurants.
Restaurant ministry has been flourishing in many South American cities. An international gathering for restaurant ministry, organized by CCCOWE USA in partnership with restaurant ministries in Europe and Hong Kong, will be held on March 21-30 in Peru.
Chi further pointed out that many Taiwanese immigrants have set up the Christian churches in the early stage, especially the Presbyterian Church. They are comparatively conservative and show reluctant in embracing Mainland Chinese in the Church. However, as the number of immigrants from Mainland China is increasing, Chi encouraged believers to pray for these churches that they can also reach out to them despite of political concern.
Chi has a high expectation for the upcoming CCCOWE USA conference in 2008 in Argentina. He hopes that the conference will not just be a time to address the issues about missions, but a time that leaders come together and work out the necessary actions for missions.
At the very end of the session, pastors are called to the altar to pray for Rev. David Chi that he can receive strength and wisdom from the above to lead the Chinese evangelical movement in the United States.