The ‘Tidal Wave’ of Chinese Christians

Ben Lin,* a Southern Baptist worker, asks Southeast Asian students to raise their hand if they want to trust in Jesus. The students were challenged to leave Buddhism completely. For many, coming from a Buddhist background, total commitment to a one, true God isn't an easy concept to grasp. (Photo by Luke In/IMB)
Ben Lin,* a Southern Baptist worker, asks Southeast Asian students to raise their hand if they want to trust in Jesus. The students were challenged to leave Buddhism completely. For many, coming from a Buddhist background, total commitment to a one, true God isn’t an easy concept to grasp. (Photo by Luke In/IMB)

Chinese believers could be the next missions sending force, following the Western and Korean Christians who’ve gone before them. They pray, give and go, sacrificing everything to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the nations.
But sacrifices come with costs. Chinese cross-cultural Christian workers say they struggle with discouragement and loneliness. Those in Southeast Asia welcomed encouragement and counsel from Southern Baptist workers Phil and Ruth Wardell,* who have provided training for believers.

Zhao Chang Pu,* Zhao Hui Fang* and their two daughters moved from China to minister in Southeast Asia. They say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done.

Just like Westerners, Chinese workers experience culture shock and struggle to adapt to a new environment. The Zhaos have shared cultural stresses with the Wardells, who once served in Southeast Asia.

The Wardells now serve in a different area of Asia and have led ministry training for Southeast Asian believers who partner with the Zhaos.

The Zhaos told the Wardells they are adjusting to being away from family. But their parents don’t understand why they took their granddaughters away.

“Why did you choose this silly country?” their parents asked. The Zhaos tried to explain God’s calling on their lives, and they can’t ignore the thousands of people dying daily without Jesus.

“Since the Lord brought us here, I believe God will change the hearts of my parents,” Chang Pu said.

They call home once or twice a month. Chang Pu said they don’t call more often because they don’t want to create a dependency. They are trying to condition themselves to be away. He asked his parents not to visit until they get settled.

“It’s a very painful process,” Chang Pu said. “All the failures I’ve encountered are not equal to three months of suffering.

“I have to depend on the Lord. No one on the mission field can really help you, only God can help you.”

Ruth, who has experienced similar challenges as a Southern Baptist worker, cried as she listened to the Zhaos share candidly.

“We’re not that much different,” Ruth told them. “I assure you that what He calls us to do, He will enable us to do … we learned the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.”

The Wardells came 15 years ago in the midst of a coup. Both sets of parents weren’t believers when the couple first came. Now, their parents are believers and are supportive.

The Zhaos left China because they both dreamed the Chinese would be the ones to bring the Gospel to other Asian countries. Chinese workers who came before them started four churches using the strategies Southern Baptists taught them, and they have key local partners extending the Gospel’s reach.

Chinese Christians are what Southern Baptists in Asia call a “tidal wave” in missions. Sources estimate there are 300 Chinese workers serving internationally and the numbers continue to rise.

The Zhaos say “the vision from the Lord” motivates them on hard days.

“I was saved because someone shared the Gospel with me,” Chang Pu said. He wants to share the Gospel with others so they can have the eternal hope he has.

“We have a responsibility to push back the Gospel,” Phil told the Zhaos and other Chinese and Southeast Asian believers during a morning training session. This responsibility is why many Chinese believers left the comforts of home.

“God has called us to this work,” Phil told them. “We can’t abandon the work when it gets difficult.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Caroline Anderson

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