Chinese and Korean Christians will discuss new strategies for missions in China next week at an unprecedented gathering expected to draw together some of the brightest minds in missions from both China and South Korea.
“I believe this meeting will remain an important milestone [in] the history and development of missions,” said Jodie Chu, secretary general of Young Disciples of Jesus, an international fellowship founded in mainland China that will be sending representatives to the Aug. 20-24 event in Bondang, South Korea.
“As China is marching towards the 2008 Olympic[s], it is good to see two countries coming together, humbling themselves and learning from each other.”
Prominent pastors, grassroots evangelists, native missionaries and ministry representatives from other parts of the world will attend the five-day “Mission China 2007” conference that marks 200 years of missions in China.
Attendants from abroad include Christian leaders representing the overseas Chinese community such as those in Indonesia, Taiwan, Canada and the United States.
Notable figures at the event will include the Rev. Thomas Wang, founder of the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism – the largest overseas Chinese evangelical organization.
Event organizers hope that all who are working on China mission will “speak out” and share their experience not just to form the direction and strategy of the future gospelization of China but to spread the gospel “until the ends of the earth.”
“Year 2007 is … the 100th-year anniversary … of Pyongyang Great Revival Movement and the 200th-year [since] Missionary Robert Morrison started his mission in China,” stated a Korean-language website promoting the gathering.
Organizers have expressed their hope for the conference to result in “a unified effort by all Christians in reaching China for the Lord.”
“I believe that Chinese [can] learn a lot about spirituality and maturity from Korean churches,” commented Chu. “China [missions] need this power as it [is] breaking through and reaching … new level[s] as [it] grow[s].”
The conference comes amid China’s current theological crisis, which has resulted from the shortage of biblical materials that are in high demand and needed to train China’s Christian leadership.
China’s estimated 12 million Protestant Christians are divided between state-approved churches and underground “house churches” – which are free from government control but face persecution ranging from arrests and police searches.
Shortages in spiritual books have hit house churches hard especially in rural-sectors, where Christians seldom have access to government-printed religious materials, including Bibles.
In 2004, prominent house church pastor Cai Zhuohua was arrested for printing and distributing Bibles and study guides to his congregation.
Overseas evangelical leaders remain divided on the solution for the crisis, with some seeking open dialogue with state-owned churches, while others risk imprisonment to smuggle printed materials to house churches.
Despite the shortage of resources, missions experts point out that China in the future may end up sending the largest number of missionaries since Christianity is rapidly growing in the nation of 1.3 billion.
“Recently, there has been a lot of talk [about] more missionaries [being] sent from the ‘two-thirds world’ – China, Africa and South East Asia – where the West traditionally sent missionaries in large numbers. I think it is a graceful trend,” said Chu.
Chinese Christians from China have also been seen reaching out to unbelievers in Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Missiologists often say that while missionaries from western-Europe and North are in decline, missionaries from poorer developing-nations are growing in numbers.
“The ‘two-thirds’ are already coming back to the West to preach the gospel,” commented Chu. “I think this is clear evidence … that God never fails. The gospel never ceases to be preached. The Kingdom of Heaven is always progressing in accordance to God’s will.”
Next week’s conference will be held at Hallelujah Church in Boondang, South Korea, and is being sponsored by China Mission Alliance, China Evangelical Fellowship, KWMA, Mission Korea, and Hansi Mission.