Missions Tech II                                               KL Paulson 
Preacher Silcox                                          12-6-1997 (2017)

China & Its Missions

1. Introduction

The intent of this paper is to survey China and its missions both past and present.   The main countries observed will be CHINA (People's Republic of China) and CHINA--Taiwan (the Republic of China).

I became especially interested in these people this past year during my looking for a Textus Receptus based Chinese Bible.   I could not find a real good Chinese translation available for the 1 billion plus souls of China.   There has been recently discussion over the Internet among Independent Baptists to find or translate decent Chinese Bible portions.   This is good news about The Good News.

2. China's Area

People's Republic of China = (PROC): 9,573,000 sq.km.   Third largest state in the world.
Republic of China = (ROC): 36,000 sq.km.   Approximately 1/3 the size of Indiana.   A mountainous island 300 km. off eastern coast of mainland China.

3. China's Population

PROC: 1,214,000,000.   Largest nation in the world.   21.3% of world's population.   Annual growth 1.3%.   People per sq.km. 127.
ROC: 21,500,000.   Annual growth 1.2%.   People per sq.km. 597.

4. China's Peoples

PROC: Chinese (Han) 92%.   8 major languages & 600 dialects but one written language common to all.   Putunghua (Mandarin) 744 mill., Wu 78 mill., Yueh (Cantonese) 53 mill., Xiang (Hunanese) 45 mill., Hakka 45 mill., Minnan 34 mill., Minpei 23 mill., Gan 22 mill.
Ethnic minorities 8%.   55 minorities officially recognized.   Many smaller minorities live in the mountainous south and southwest.

ROC: Han Chinese 97.8% speaking 3 major languages.   Taiwanese (Hoklo, Minnan).   Hakka.   Mandarin.
Malayo-Polynesian mountain peoples 1.7% (10 groups).

5. China's Literacy

PROC: 73%.   Official language: Putunghua (Mandarin Chinese); local languages in the 5 Autonomous Regions.   All languages 142.   Bible translations 15 Whole Bibles, 13 New Testaments, 26 portions.
ROC: 92%.   Official language & language of education: Mandarin.   Hoklo is widely spoken.   All languages 21.   Bible translations 5 Whole Bibles, 5 New Testaments, 1 portion.

6. China's Capitals

PROC: Beijing (Peking) 10.8 million.   Other cities: Shanghai 13.3 mill., Tianjin 8.8 mill., Chongqing 2.9 mill., Guangzhou 3.5 mill.   34 other cities of over 1 million inhabitants.   Urbanization 37%.
ROC: Taipei 2,719,000.   Major city: Kaoshiung 1,386,000.   Urbanization 74%.

7. China's Economy

PROC: Socialist, but since 1978 a more pragmatic economic policy has been pursued.   The peasants (80% of the population) have been allowed greater freedom to sell surplus crops.   Some small-scale private enterprise (service industries) has been allowed in the cities.   Overall living standards & personal incomes have risen.   Income/person $290 (2% of USA).
ROC: Rapid industrialization & economic growth to become one of the world's leading exporters.   Income/person $3000 (21.3% of USA).

8. China's Politics

PROC: Regaining its place of importance in the world after nearly 2 centuries of decline and humiliation at the hands of the Western powers & Japan.   Since the final conquest of mainland China in 1949, the Communist Party has remoulded the nation along Marxist lines.   The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) was the culmination of this policy.   It caused immeasurable suffering & economic chaos.   Intellectuals & religious believers were cruelly persecuted.   Loss of life was enormous.   When Mao died in 1976 the radical leftists were discredited and removed from power.   Reforms have been limited.   The Communist party still holds strict control over every aspect of life.
ROC: Under Japanese rule 1895-1945.   After 1949, Taiwan became the refuge of the Nationalist Chinese government.   A one-party republic dominated by mainlanders, but increasing Taiwanese participation in economic & political life is lessening communal tensions.   International political isolation of Taiwan led to the loss of UN membership in 1971.   Both Chinese governments seek reunification on their own terms.

9. China's Religions--Generalities

PROC: Marxism has saught to exterminate all religious groups.   In the 50's the government engineered the infiltration, subversion & control of all 'organized Christianity'.   By 1958 Protestants & Catholics were each affected by separate Patriotic Associations.   Present government policy tolerates religious beliefs; Worship is allowed under supervision.   Military personnel, Communist Party members, & people under 18 do not have this freedom.
ROC: Secular state with religious freedom.   The strong anti-communist stance of the government, and efforts to unify the country under 1 language, have placed it in conflict with some denominations -- mainly the large Taiwanese Presbyterian Church.

10. China's Religious Groups (source: P. Johnstone, 1986)

PROC: Atheist 12%: Communist Party members 40 mill.   Non- religious 50%: Atheistic education system ensures that most young people have no religious knowledge.   Chinese religions 28%: Taoism, B_ddhism, Confucianism.   Animist 2%: Among tribal peoples of the south.   Musl_m 2.4%: Ten national minorities are Musl_m.   'Christian' 5%: Official Christians are 6 mill; House church and overseas researchers estimate 30 mill. to 40 mill.
ROC: Non-religious/Atheist 20-30%: Many younger people are secular and abandon their family religions.   Chinese religions 60-70%: Blend of Confucianism, Taoism & B_ddhism with strong emphasis on veneration of ancestors.   Musl_m 0.5%.   Tribal religions 0.5%: Minority of mountain peoples.   'Christian' 5%: See section 11.

11. China's 'Christians' and Christians

PROC: Roman Catholic 0.6%: 6,600,000 adherents.   Marginal groups 0.1%: Various 1,000,000a.   Protestant 4.3%: 45,000,000a.   There are 3 subdivisions for the Protestants: Three Self Patriotic Movement 3,000,000a; TSPM related meeting points 9,000,000a; Home meetings 33,000,000a.
ROC: Roman Catholic 1.4%: 275,000a.   Marginal groups 0.26%: True Jesus Church & Mormons, etc. 52,000a.   Protestant 3.5%: 670,000a; 70 denominations and numerous independent congregations.   2.5% of the population claims to be Evangelical.

12. China's Mies. (source: P. Johnstone, 1986)

PROC: Personnel in China-related ministries 600 but working from other lands.

ROC: Mies. to Taiwan 863 (1:22,000 people) in over 80 agencies.
Mies. from Taiwan 10 (1:67,000 Protestants).   Many others have gone as 'tentmaking' mies., or to pastor overseas Chinese congregations.

Important note: Brother Tom Gaudet reported in 1995 that there were just 8 Independent Baptist mies. in mainland China and 14 IBM's in Taiwan.

13. China's Topography

PROC: Generally mountainous with great river valleys.   Rolling plains in NE.
ROC: Generally mountainous.   Plain region along W. coast.

14. China's Principal Physical Features

PROC: Greater Khingan & Kunlun Mts.   Tibetan Plateau.   Hwang Ho & Yangtze Rivers.
ROC: Mt. Morrison & Mt. Sylvia.

15. China's Climate

PROC: Hot summers & cold winters.   Heavy rainfall in Yangtze Valley.
ROC: Pleasant, warm.   Heavy rainfall in N.

16. China's Principal Products (source: J. Thiessen, 1961)

PROC: Wheat, millet, rice & other cereals, soybeans, cotton textiles, silk, coal, ceramics, bamboo.
ROC: Rice, tea, sugar, fruits, camphor, gold, copper.   Also mushrooms, watermelons, sweet potatoes, jute.

17. China's My. History--MORRISON (1782-1834)

In the early 1800's the Chinese empire was proud of its power and its ancient civilization.   All other people were barbarians and could only approach the Peacock Throne as suppliants.   If people from the West wanted to trade with China, they could do so only under the strictest of regulations.   They could not deal directly with the people but only with merchant middlemen.   On a narrow strip of land at Canton, they were allowed to build warehouses.   At a limited season of the year they could bring in their trading fleet.   There were no exceptions.

This was the situation when the London My. Society boldly selected Presbyterian Robert Morrison as my. to China.   Although he knew he faced tremendous obstacles, he was both capable and persistent.   One of his first tasks was to find some way of learning the difficult Chinese language.

In 1807 Morrison secured passage via a stop in Portuguese held Macao by an American vessel.   In Canton he met 2 Chinese Romans Catholics who would be willing, for a price, to risk their lives and allow him to try to dig the language out of them.   It had been done in secret, for torture and death threatened any Chinese who might be caught teaching a foreigner the sacred Chinese language.

In such circumstances Morrison began his work--work that later led to the production of his massive Chinese dictionary and grammar, and to the translation of the Mandarin Bible itself in 1819.   Working alone for years, never sure that he would be allowed to remain, he laid the foundation for later my. work in China.

18. China's My. History--DEAN & SHUCK

William Dean, the first my. sent by the American Baptists to the Chinese went to Bangkok, Siam, where he ministered to the large Chinese population of that city.   Here in 1835 was organized the first Chinese Baptist Church.   In 1836 the American Baptist sent Pastor J.L. Shuck to reinforce the work, but instead of joining Dean, he chose to locate in Macao, a port from which he believed it would be easier to enter China proper when once that nation should open freely to my. work.

The Treaty of Nanking (1842) opened 5 Chinese ports to foreign trade and residence--Canton, Amoy, Fuchow, Ningpo, & Shanghai--and ceded Hong Kong to Great Britain.

Shortage of money hindered the American Baptist from entering Hong Kong and the 5 treaty ports immediately.   Then in 1845, they divided over the question of slavery in the U.S.   By 1856 the Southern Baptists were in Canton and Shanghai, while the Northern Baptists were in Hong Kong.

19. China's My. History--TAYLOR (1832-1905)

After 1860 the China Inland Mission (CIM) came on the scene.   Hudson Taylor had long been burdened for the vast interior, even when certain treaties did not allow mies. to go there.   When sickness kept him at home at the time this new door opened, he tried to get various missions to take up the challenge.   Most were too deeply committed in the coastal regions already open.   So finally the new society was brought into being, dedicated to evangelization of inland China.   It sent out its first team of workers in 1865.

The significance of CIM goes beyond its pioneering in the interior of China.   It set the pattern for a new type of mission, often called the 'faith mission.'   Its emphasis was on the primary work of evangelism in new areas.   For such work it believed that committed Christians with something less than full theological training could be used with good effect.   Being non-denominational in sponsorship, it could accept candidates from any 'evangelical' group in a false spirit of ecumenism.

Taylor was persuaded that the idea of adopting Chinese dress and other customs while traveling in the interior brought the mies. closer to the people.   This also minimized the danger of disturbances when they saw a 'foreign devil' in their midst.   Eventually CIM became the largest mission in China.   They had nearly 1,000 Protestant mies.

Penetrating the interior was dangerous.   Numerous account of riots and even loss of my. life were made in the early days.

20. China's My. History--RICHARD (1845-1919)

The English Baptists had their first representative in China by 1859.   Their most influential my. was Timothy Richard, who went to China in 1870.   Five years later he courageously moved the mission from Chefoo to the interior of Shantung Province.   A severe famine struck China in 1877 & 1878.   The opportunity for relief work opened many places to the preaching of the gospel.   Richard was one of those who took a leading role in administering relief.   Later he was active in promoting education among the Chinese.   He resigned from the Baptist My. Society and became secretary of the Christian Literature Society, thru which he sought to introduce the best features of occidental literature and civilization.   In 1890, the English Baptists began a prosperous work in Shensi Province.

21. China's Closed Door

One of the early moves by the Communist regime against missions was the order that no organization would be permitted to operate on foreign capital.   This was a hard blow, but since many of the schools and most of the churches were already operating on the principle of self-support and self-government, the ruling did not have as serious an effect as might have been expected.

22. The Churches in China Since 1950

The churches in China were comparatively young when the Communist Party came to power.   They were required to live under a government that was openly hostile to all religion.   Almost immediately they were subjected to several shocks.   The 1st was the enforced departure of all mies.   The 2nd was the cutting off of funds from abroad.   The 3rd was the moral challenge of Communism.   The Communists had a deep sense of dedication calling forth such discipline and self-sacrifice as to shame the Christians who had considered themselves the only ones in China willing to make sacrifices for their beliefs.   The 4th shock was the wearing effect of living daily under the authority of a hostile government.

All country churches were officially closed during the land redistribution period (1951-1953).   The government sought to control the life of every citizen so minutely that there would be no time for church activities.

From almost the beginning of the Communist regime, it became clear that professing Christians were divided into 2 distinct groups.   The one was composed of those who belonged to those Protestant churches which had registered en masse with the new government when it came into power.   The other was a dissenting remnant which had sought amid much difficulty to carry on the work of Christ without compromising Scriptural principle.   The former group has become simply a tool in the hands of China's new masters.   It is the latter group that has borne the brunt of the government's disfavor.

23. Some Influential Chinese Christians

Dr. Sun Yatsen, one of the prominent leaders in the Chinese Republic.   He died in 1925.

Chiang Kai-shek, president of Nationalist China.   Once after being kidnaped by political opposition he said, 'The greatness of the love of Christ burst upon me with new inspiration, increasing my strength to struggle against evil, to overcome temptation and to uphold righteousness.'

An excellent book about Kai-shek's leadership and Christian character was written by Basil Miller.   See section 25.

24. China's Needs

500 million plus eternity bound souls have never heard the Gospel even one time.   70% of the population have lived only under Communism.
Symptoms of a national heart problem are divorce and abortion on a massive scale, female infantcide, violence and suicide.   We need to pray for the persecuted Christian families there.
Obviously there is a lack of sound Bible (Baptist) preaching & teaching.
Mies. as such may not enter mainland China.
Bibles (of any kind) are still in short supply in many areas.   Many were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Back in 1984 there were 10 million cassette players in China.   Scripture, song & preaching tapes should be distributed.
Christian Gospel radio would be an excellent tool to develop since 80% of the homes have a radio.
Christian literature is rarely available, but in great demand.  
Chick Publications has recently added several Chinese titles to its tract list.
Cross-cultural evangelism and indigenous, local Baptist church planting must be accomplished God's way and in His timing.

25. References

A SURVEY OF WORLD MISSIONS, Revised Edition, John Caldwell Thiessen, (Moody Press 1961), pp. 74-109.

Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek: Christian Liberators of China, Second Edition, Basil Miller, (Zondervan Publishing House 1943).

HIGHLIGHTS OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS: A History and Survey, Harold R. Cook, (Moody Press 1972), pp. 158-167.

OPERATION WORLD: A day-to-day guide to praying for the world, Fourth Edition, Patrick Johnstone, (STL/WEC 1986), pp. 137-144.   [Update 1993]

THE CHURCH IN CHINA: How It Survives & Prospers Under Communism, Carl Lawrence, (Bethany House Publishers 1985).