Chinese Christians assembled an ambitious plan to send 20,000 missionaries overseas by 2030. The face of world mission is about to change dramatically, promise supporters of this huge Chinese missionary-sending initiative.
This Chinese goal is being compared to South Korea's pledge in the 1990s to raise 10,000 missionaries. "China always wins when it comes to numbers," said Brent Fulton, president of ChinaSource, reports Shanghaiist.
More than 900 house church pastors and leaders from China gathered around the challenge of planting thousands of churches in China, reaching the hundreds of Chinese minority people groups, and mobilizing at least 20,000 Chinese missionaries by the year 2030.
The number 20,000 is significant, because Chinese Christian leaders estimate about 20,000 foreign missionaries have been sent to China in the last 200 years.
Beijing Pastor Daniel Jin said, "We owe a 'gospel debt' to the world. Only when our missions sending surpasses what we have received can China be considered truly a mission-sending country."
Five years ago, more than 200 Chinese Christians were detained before they could board flights to leave the country. Fulton said the 2010 incident served as a catalyst to unite church leaders both inside and outside of the country.
The Chinese government presents practicality challenges, as it is considered illegal to send agencies to organize such a large number of people, reports Shanghaiist. Chinese church leaders appear to be relying on individual churches to shoulder most of that burden.
China's church has a unique strength in evangelism, especially in the Middle East, said Zhiqiu Xu, director of Columbia International University's Chinese program. "To begin with, China doesn't engender the same antagonism there that Western countries do."
There are less than a thousand Chinese missionaries working cross-culturally, and most quit after two years, according to Shanghaiist.
"The Chinese church is a bit like a teenager: awkward but energetic," Xu said.
"It may not have the details planned, but at least it has the vitality to tell the world, 'We want to do something'."
David Ro, Mission China 2030 International Advisor, said a last fall's Mission China 2030 conference in Hong Kong was "truly a turning point in Chinese church history."
Due to the isolation or persecution so many Chinese churches have endured in recent history, many are not aware of the significant opportunities for collaboration with the global church, conference leaders noted.
"This bold vision to mobilize, equip and send 20,000 missionaries in the next 15 years will only be achieved by a work of God's Spirit that unites the church to accomplish this God-sized dream together," said Karin Butler Primuth.