Go Ye into All the World: Thoughts on God's Work in China

Earl Ritchie

An account of how Koreans inside China have been used by God.

The mention of the land of China stirs the imagination and floods the mind with vivid images of a vast land with the world’s largest population. Today, China is the world’s factory for everything from clothing to steel products. Every day that country is growing stronger both in its economy and its influence in world affairs, emerging as a superpower that will be a challenge to the United States in world affairs.

The world hardly notices that God is at work saving precious souls in the Middle Kingdom [this is what China calls itself]. No one will ever know, this side of eternity, the extent of God’s saving power in China during the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

There have been thousands of Christians from all over the world quietly working in China as language teachers and technicians, all the while bearing witness to the saving grace of God. The writer has met a number of Chinese people over the last several years who have a copy of the Bible, sometimes in Chinese and sometimes in English, received as a gift from a language teacher, a foreigner who was working and spreading the gospel at the same time. Thousands of Chinese students, also, have come to study in the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia and have heard the gospel, believed it, and in turn become evangelists to their own people. Most of these new Chinese converts are very zealous and intelligent in their evangelism.

One interesting aspect of God’s work that has gone largely unnoticed is the work of Asian Christians from Korea and Japan. Large numbers of Chinese have migrated to South Korea where they are able to earn more money than they can in China. The Korean assemblies have reached out to these people, with a good number of Korean brethren able to preach the gospel in Chinese, which is quite difficult for a Korean to learn. A number of the Chinese have been saved in this way and eventually return to China where they in turn are evangelizing and where there are now perhaps 40 assemblies planted by returnees along with Korean workers. The writer has had the opportunity of visiting only three of these assemblies in China but good impressions have been gained even in this limited number of visits.

Through these visits and conversations, a pattern emerges of fairly small [10-30 persons] assemblies with the visible characteristics of a NT assembly and having the various meetings such as the Lord’s Supper, the gospel meeting, the prayer meeting, public reading and ministry of the Word of God, the practice of believers’ baptism, a recognized "within" and "without" to the assembly where there are recognized believers, learners, and also unbelievers who may be called seekers. They take no denominational name. There are recognized leaders but this may be the area of greatest weakness because most of the believers are about the same spiritual age, which is 5 years or less since conversion. There is a sensitivity to sin and a realization that their lives must be different from the lives of those who do not know the Savior. They have a knowledge of the contents of the Bible but have a longing for a deeper knowledge, and will have many questions to ask anyone who is prepared to give them answers. They recognize the different roles of brethren and sisters in the assembly and display the outward signs of the truth of headship: uncovered heads for brethren and covered heads for sisters in the meetings. They are clear on the subject of the eternal security of the believer and are not seeking to experience sign-gifts such as tongues. In other words, these groups stand out as being different from the religious world around them. They are like the early assemblies in their essential characteristics. They need our prayers and our help as we are able to give it.

Questions are often asked about restrictions on the spread of the gospel in China. It should be remembered that China is a country with one political party - the Communist Party. Communism itself is a kind of religious movement and one of its tenets is atheism. Given this background, it is safe to say that there will be restrictions, official or unofficial, on the spread of the gospel. However, the authorities are not blind and deaf; they are certainly aware of the activities of Christians in their country but they have largely chosen to ignore what is going on. The writer gave a shopkeeper in Dalian an attractive Chinese John 3:16 text, 8-1/2"x11" in size. Dalian is a port in the NE part of China. One year later, on a visit not announced beforehand, the text was found to be prominently displayed in the shop with the addition of a protective plastic cover to protect it from dust and moisture. Furthermore, the shopkeeper, being a Christian, keeps a Bible handy for reading or discussion which is carried on in full view of anyone in the market.

Two young men aged 22 and 35 told of thousands of believers in and around the city of Dalian who are thirsting for sound teaching from the Word of God. The young men are circumspect in their evangelism but one of them produced 1000 Christmas cards that were nothing more than a greeting and then a lengthy explanation of the gospel from the Garden of Eden to Calvary and on to the Father’s House. It all proves that nearly 55 years of communism have not destroyed a thirst for the truth in the hearts of many of the Chinese.

We need to pray earnestly for China that God will bless the preaching of the gospel and that doors will remain open. Secondly we need to take an interest in the Chinese that we meet in the streets and supermarkets where we live. The Chinese are usually open, friendly, and curious about what is going on around them. Many of them live in isolation from the people in the countries where they have immigrated. They have never visited a Canadian home or an American home. When these people are saved, they will tell their relatives back in China, and thus the gospel will be carried to the homeland. We need to learn some Chinese if possible. Chinese is not a simple language for western people to learn but it is not impossible to learn either. If God has called a person to this work of evangelism among these people, He will enable that person to learn their language. We need to have a supply of Chinese Bibles, tracts, and booklets to give out to the Chinese.

Let us fill our hands with service for the Lord; time is short, the Lord is coming. How wistful we will be when, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, we realize what our lives might have been had we seen the opportunities that were all around us during these years of our lives.

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