Window Into China
China is proud of its 5,000-year civilization. From ancient times China contributed to humankind with the invention of the compass, gunpowder, paper-making, and block printing. In the last decade China’s annual economic growth has averaged a staggering 10 percent. No wonder China is assuming a prominent place on the world stage.
China is not now and never has been a deeply religious country. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are China’s traditional religions, but Christianity also has a long history in the country. The first authentic record—from the excavated Nestorian Tablet—tells that the first Christian missionaries came to China in the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty. Even with the emperor’s support, however, this early Christian movement, like a shooting star, survived only a short time.
Modern Protestantism came to China exactly 200 years ago, when Robert Morrison of the London Missionary Society arrived in 1807. The Adventist message came to China in 1888 with Abram LaRue, a 66-year-old lay member. In 1902, our church sent its first official missionary to southern China, Jacob N. Anderson. By 1951 the Seventh-day Adventist Church had 21,000 members among 276 churches, while fewer than 1 million Protestants lived among a population of 450 million.
Over the next 25 years, parti-cularly during the so-called Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), religions of all kinds were diminished; not a single public place of worship survived.
Now the church is like bamboo shoots after the spring rain. A 5,000-seat cathedral-style Christian church is located in the beautiful city of Hangzhou; while the largest Adventist church, seating 4,000 (above), stands in the northeastern city of Shenyang. Such spectacular events are happening for the first time in Chinese history.
The most wonderful thing is that the Bible is available among the Chinese as never before. During the Cultural Revolution, Bibles were confiscated and burned. Now 50 million copies of the Bible have been produced by the Amity Printing Company, sponsored by the United Bible Society.
There are now an estimated 50 million Christians in China. The Adventist Church has more than 15 times the membership it had 50 years ago—around 350,000. This has been accomplished without formal educational and medical institutions to help God’s cause. The Holy Spirit is moving upon thirsty hearts, and gospel seeds are being spread by His faithful children. The message is also being spread through modern media.
Please remember China in your prayers, the largest area in the 10/40 window and the greatest mission field in the world.
Compiled by Robert Wong, Ministerial Association secretary for theChinese Union Mission in Hong Kong.