Alive and Well - Christianity in China - From Father John Tung to Freddie Sun
Father John Tung
In June of 1951 communist authorities in China ordered Father John Tung to betray his heritage by publicly denouncing his immediate superior, Archbishop Antonio Riberi. The occasion was a mass meeting at Chongqing Cathedral organized to pressure Catholics into accepting the regime's godless policies. Tung agreed to appear but astonished his audience and enraged the communists with what he said.
"It is best, is seems, to offer my whole soul to God and to the Holy Church; and my body to my country. If she is pleased with it, I do not refuse it to her. Good materialists, who deny the existence of the soul, cannot but be satisfied with the offering of my body."
He expect to be executed. Indeed, shortly afterwards he was arrested and wound up in a labor camp. In 1965 he was reported in good spirits. I suspect he's with the Lord now. The man reasoned that to betray the archbishop would lead to betraying the church which, in turn, would entail betraying his Lord.
Jesus in Beijing
My main source of information for this and future hubs on Christianity in China is this book authored by David Aikman. His biographical sketch on the back of the book reads as follows. "David Aikman, former Time magazine Beijing bureau chief, is an author, journalist, and foreign policy consultant. After more than two decades with Time magazine - reporting from more than fifty countries, and interviewing such figures as Boris Yeltsin, Billy Graham, Manuel Noriega, and Mother Teresa - he became a freelance writer and commentator. He has written for Foreign Affairs, The American Spectator and The Weekly Standard, as well as several books on subjects ranging from Mikhail Gorbachev to the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. He lives in Virginia with his fam
One among millions
"China: the future of Christianity? With the state now actively financing Christianity, China could well become the largest Christian country in the world." How's that for a headline? You'll find it in a two year old issue of The Guardian. And this from a September 2011 issue of the BBC News. "There are already more Chinese at church on a Sunday than in the whole of Europe."
The Christian faith seems to have survived Mao's persecution of the 50's and the cultural revolution of the 60s and early 70s. In 1949, when Mao came to power, there were 750,000 Christians in the country. Asia Harvest has made a serious effort to assess the current Christian population. Would you believe, it's over 105 million? (105,316,752 to be exact) Another report has it at 200 million. But that was five years ago. That's still just shy of 10% of the total population. My point is that though the numbers and calculations may vary according to differing assumptions, all agree that the Christian faith has exploded in China as in no other country.
More recently, Freddie Sun
On August 22, 2012 Dr. Sun Yi-yin (Freddie Sun to many) died of cancer after 20 years of roaming over China establishing Bible Institutes to train a new generation of Chinese Christian leaders. For the 25,000 miles he traveled there are over 60,000 graduates now proclaiming the gospel in every corner of China.
Enter Christian Aid Mission
God used an outfit known as Christian Aid Mission to support Freddie Sun. Christian Aid has a distinctive philosophy of ministry. Rather than send foreigners in to distant lands with the gospel message, Christian Aid supports people and agencies who are already promoting the gospel in their homelands. Thus Christians able to share resources funnel their money through Christian Aid to their brothers and sisters in foreign lands who are desperately in need of help. Christian Aid insures that givers get the greatest bang for their kingdom buck. I've seen them in action. Pretty impressive. More on Christian Aid's website.
The Christian's secret weapon
About thirty years after the death and resurrection of Christ, Paul made some interesting observations about the growth of Christianity. Writing from prison to the church in Philippi, Paul encouraged disciples to hang in there no matter what. After expressing confidence that he will be released, he acknowledged that, whether he lives or dies, the Kingdom will advance. Then we read, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake." Philippians 1:29
This is not a popular text in America. Have you ever heard it preached from the pulpit? You'll hear lots of strategies for church growth but not much on suffering. If suffering is addressed at all, it is in the spirit of helping you cope with it, or better yet, avoiding it. In some quarters suffering is denied altogether. Yet the Bible teaches, and our brothers and sisters in China confirm, that in suffering the Kingdom advances and the gospel is proved to be a trustworthy conviction.
I read a prayer recently part of which went, "I praise you for not making my life always easy, less I foolishly believe there IS a lasting city in this world; I praise you for daily showing me that I need the gospel this day as much as the first day; I praise you that Jesus is constantly praying for me what I’d pray for me if I knew what he knows."
Hope to make it my own!
Prayng for China (From Operation World's Prayercast)
What America needs
A wave of severe persecution. You read right. The Christian faith is indeed under attack in the USA. It's a mild, nevertheless deadly hostility. Our educational institutions, the media, the government and many churches have quietly undermined the bedrock truths of the Christian faith. They seek to replace it with a gospel of prosperity and ease and accommodation.
I won't be at all surprised if God uses a total financial meltdown followed by a nuclear conflagration sparked in the middle east to separate the wheat from the chaff among his people. It could happen in my lifetime, but certainly in that of my children's and grandchildren's.
But those "who know their God shall stand firm and take action." Daniel 11:32
© 2012 Frank P. Crane
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