Villagers of the “Chinese Christmas Village” Don’t Know What Christmas Is

Earlier this month the Chinese web portal Sina posted a photo essay on the town of Yiwu (Zhejiang), where most of the world’s Christmas products come from. The main source is a huge commodities market dubbed the “Chinese Christmas Village.” Moving (and sometimes disturbing) photos show migrant workers toiling in harsh conditions to make decorations for a festival they know nothing about. The site Shanghaiist provides an English summary of the original Sina post.

On December 8, in response to the original Sina photo essay, the Gospel Times published a reaction by a Christian to the photos. The full article is translated below.

‪Sixty percent of the world’s and more than 90 percent of China’s Christmas supplies are made in Yiwu. A commercial and residential street in the second district of Fotang town in Yiwu City is known locally as the “Chinese Christmas Village.” However, it has obtained this title not because the people there are fond of Christmas. In fact, the “villagers” there do not even know what Christmas is; they just produce Christmas products for the rest of the world.

‪September is the busiest time of the year for the “Chinese Christmas Village” because at that time the big Christmas orders for export to the US, Europe, and other places need to be shipped. Before that, however, the “villagers” have already been preparing the goods for a long time. But the work doesn’t end in September because that’s when domestic orders begin pouring in. They work hard until Christmas Day, December 25, and only after that does the work load begin to lighten.

‪However, not every villager of “Chinese Christmas Village” understands the meaning of Christmas. According to Seen, a photo-journalism site on Sina, a young worker at a local plant flatly admitted that he knows there is such a holiday, but that he doesn’t know specifically what the holiday is about.

‪At first glance, the “Chinese Christmas Village” seems to be a place full of Christmas spirit; in fact, it is a place that regards Christmas as only a business to celebrate. People do not care about what “Christmas” means. They just know that Christmas will bring them financial profit, and thus it is about an industry, the production of related products, and earning commercial profit.

‪In fact, this is just a concentrated manifestation of the contemporary attitude people have toward Christmas in this day and age. This has long been the type of behavior in all of China and is also true the world over. In other countries, the day after Thanksgiving Day is called “Black Friday” because businesses vigorously promote special discounts and continue to do so until Christmas. This time becomes the season when people buy a lot of merchandise and the merchant’s books overflow with black ink (black meaning profit).

‪Pursuit of financial profit is always at the forefront of society. In China, the first shop signs posted in the “Chinese Christmas Village” are not for Christian organizations, but for Yiwu’s business district. Here, faith lags far behind the speed of the market; a godly holiday has suddenly turned into a “money-making opportunity.”

Unfortunately, this mood is not confined to the small commercial street in Yiwu; it has flooded the entire society.

There are very few people who choose to celebrate Christmas or who truly understand its meaning. Some people cater to its popularity and only celebrate Christmas because it is trendy. Others know that this is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior. But what is the true meaning of Christmas?

‪In fact, Jesus was not born on December 25, the day Christians celebrate Christmas, nor is it the day to just celebrate his birth. In fact, we don’t know the specific date of Jesus’ birth. However, in church history December 25 became the traditional day to commemorate the birth of Jesus; this is the origin of the Christmas celebration. But it’s not just a birthday party; it’s a time to commemorate the birth of Jesus, to remember the history of that era, to reflect on its significance, to prepare to greet the return of Christ, and to encounter the story of Christ’s birth in real life again.

‪Jesus Christ was born into this world because of the sin of mankind. God created the world and entrusted human beings with the authority and responsibility to care for the land. But our human ancestors disobeyed God’s command and ate that fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even though God had commanded them not to. In this way, sin entered the world. Humans lost the joy and peace of life, and became caught in a cycle of pain. To this day, the whole world is full of injustice and unrighteousness, from every corner of society to the heart of every thought.

‪The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the solution for the problem of our sin. He is the Almighty Creator, but for us he became a baby, being born in a manger. In the end he was crucified, paying our penalty for us, bearing the cost of sin on our behalf, redeeming us out of the bondage of sin. As long as we trust in him, we can have a new life and will no longer be the object of God’s wrath and punishment, but become children of God’s love. Through Christ, God accepts us and we become his children in whom he delights and gives us eternal life.

‪Every year Christmas is the day Christians once again silently reflect on Jesus Christ coming to earth for man. It is absolutely not just a day to give each other gifts, nor is it a day of revelry. Even more, it is not a day packed with aroma of the “Chinese Christmas Village” business.

Unfortunately, many people do not know the true meaning of Christmas and we need to tell them. In fact, does not our preaching the gospel include Christmas as the most significant events in human history?

Original article: “中国圣诞村”村民竟不知何为圣诞节!

Image Source Chindia-alert.org

Church Schools or Home Schooling? (Part 2)

In September, the mainland site Christian Times published a piece originally posted on the China Home Schooling Alliance website about Christian education in China. In the article titled “Church Schools or Home Schooling?”, the author lays out what he believes to be the difference between Christian education conducted within a church setting and home schooling. He then sets out to argue that home schooling is the most effective way for Christians to educate their children.

The article provides an interesting glimpse into a conversation taking place online among Christians in China regarding an important issue. Due to the length of the original article, it is posted in two parts. Part 1 was posted on December 9, 2014.

US Chinese Sunday School ClassLet’s look now at some of the prejudices against home schooling.

First of all, many brothers and sisters worry that parents don’t have a strong enough spiritual life to give the child a proper spiritual education. They think that only a church school can provide adequate spiritual education. ‪

I strongly beg to differ with this view. Of course, the church is a platform for shepherding its people, but the life of the believer is truly lived out in one’s family life. Faith is not merely a gathering on Sunday for worship; it is, more importantly, the struggle and witness of everyday life. The state of our lives often truly emerges within our family. What we see at church or at school is only skin-deep and lacks this type of deep, truly living faith.

The most important thing as a parent is a heart for the Father. The Bible says: “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers.” The Bible also says: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

As we mentioned above, as parents face the issue of how to educate their children they will also be confronted with their own faith and the roots of their faith.

Homeschooling is unlike other schooling in that it emphasizes that life itself is education, that education does not necessarily need to take place within the confines of a school that is separated from life. In the same way, spiritual education does not necessarily need to take place within the confines of a spiritual school that is also isolated from real life. This is because spiritual life must be put into practice in everyday life.

A second misconception is the belief that the secularized knowledge of professional teachers is often a better education than that of parents.

This is actually related to the first issue in that parents lack confidence in home schooling and believe that education is a professional matter, something that parents cannot do. This is a great misconception regarding standardized schools for people today.

But what does the Bible say? Many people believe that the charter for Christian education is found in Deuteronomy chapter six, but this chapter is clearly speaking of parents.

I do not agree that the sovereignty of Christian education lies with the church. No matter the case, parents have both the right and responsibility to educate their children. A church school can be seen as a school founded by a group of Christians for the education of their own children and the children of their Christian brothers and sisters. A church monopoly on the right to educate children of believers will only lead to laziness of the faith in believers. On this point, we can see the reason behind why this article analyzes the drop in Sunday School and family worship: the decline of the modern American family worship.

As recorded in the Bible, God himself instituted the family as a sacred unit and placed children in the center of it. I believe this is the best place for children to mature. At the same time, in Deuteronomy chapter six the great commandment that is revealed to us also tells us the most important method to practice the great commandment is to teach our children.

I believe that the family is a great mystery of God’s grace and blessing. Children and parents play an integral role in the family. Parents and children will be a great blessing to each other in the growth of their lives.

Home schooling is also a reflection of the model of universal education. Both Christian schools and secular schools are part of the system of standardized schools. This type of school system emphasizes transmission and instruction according to man’s activity, crowding out the space for God himself to guide each child and ignoring the independence of the child. This system emphasizes knowledge and competition, but lacks love and profound life experience. It also ignores children’s individual differences. It emphasizes specialization and standardization, but ignores holistic life. Since the school system is very powerful, Christian education school system is also confused and held captive to the world’s system. The school system of the world emphasizes a closed model of instruction, separated from life. It emphasizes teacher professionalization and sidelines the parents. It stresses communities, but ignores the value of the individual.

Many people misunderstand home schooling and the issue of social interaction between the community and home schooled children, including Christians. See the article: “Home Schooling Data: Academic and Social Interaction”, the United States has proven that home schooling is not a problem.*

In fact, we need to look more seriously at the negative effects that the school system has on the social interaction among children. Here is an additional article that can help you: “Home Schooled Children Have Social Problems?”*

From a biblical perspective, Jesus continuously warned that in our society or community, we are quick to turn our hearts from God and look to man to obtain glory. When there is great pressure from the peers around us we are unable to follow truth.

To prematurely place a child into the school community is definitely a bad idea. The smaller the child the more the child needs to live with their parents, to build himself or herself up, to learn how to take care of himself or herself, to be independent, to understand interpersonal relationships and behavior. But, a bunch of kids who gather with their peers means more competition, disruption, or being under the teacher’s power. The younger the child the more they are unable to understand the complex connection between the collective and the self. Thus, the collective pressure often causes a great deal of harm to the child.

‪Those same drawbacks that we mentioned regarding the standardized school system are the same problems that Christian schools established by churches are facing. American church schools also have a lot of problems that are rooted in the institutionalization of the school: children who are rebellious, precocious, who commit crimes, and so on. This is an important reason for the decline in American church schools and for the sharp rise in the number of people who home school.

‪The above is an analysis of some of the differences between church schools and home schooling with the predominant emphasis on a defense for home schooling. Because we see many Christian brothers and sisters who do not agree with home schooling, and because we also see the importance of the development of Christian home schooling in China, therefore we have been so bold as to write this piece. Of course, there are also many challenges with home schooling. However, the importance of home schooling is so great that it is worth it for brothers and sisters to do home schooling and to promote the ministry of Christian home schooling across the country.

‪There are many Christians who are full-time mothers. Encourage these full-time mothers to raise and teach their children at home and their total economic and manpower costs will see significant savings. The most important thing is that this in accordance with the biblical order of education. Parents are directly responsible for their child’s education, not a school.

‪In actuality, many domestic Christian schools have big operations, but are tightly controlled by the government. They survive under the pressure and are unable to fully teach children from the Bible. For small scale Christian schools and church schools, the costs are higher, they are under enormous pressure, and they have become schools for the elite.

I think under the current situation, encouraging more brothers and sisters to be involved in the ministry of Christian education cannot in any case be overstated.

And, starting with their own children, these parents will quickly become unyielding with their education, producing an even greater testimony for God.

‪You can imagine that if there is better support for our brothers and sisters to do home schooling, then there will be a rapid rise in small scale Christian home schools.

* links to referenced articles did not appear in the original article

Original article: 教会学校还是在家教育
Photo: Chicago Tribune

Church Schools or Home Schooling? (Part 1)

[Note to readers: Our move to a new site proved more complicated than we thought. However, we have articles to get out to you so we will continue publishing on our original site as we phase into our new home.]

In September, the mainland site Christian Times published a piece originally posted on the China Home Schooling Alliance website about Christian education in China. In the article titled “Church Schools or Home Schooling?”, the author lays out what he believes to be the difference between Christian education conducted within a church setting and home schooling. He then sets out to argue that home schooling is the most effective way for Christians to educate their children.

The article provides an interesting glimpse into a conversation taking place online among Christians in China regarding an important issue. Due to the length of the original article, it will be posted in two parts.

US Chinese Sunday School ClassChurch Schools or Home Schooling?‬‬ ‪‬‬‬‬ ‪
Many Christian brothers and sisters are eager to pull their children out of secular schools and give them a Christian education in line with the Bible in order to pass on the tradition of Christian faith. What is Christian education? I think so long as you target young people and children, and passing on the Christian faith is the fundamental purpose of education, then this can be described as Christian education. Acquisition of the Christian faith is not naturally self-obtained because people are prone to sin and separating themselves from God. Rather, faith is received from the grace of God that falls on us. An important part of Christian education is that, through the living testimonies of Christians, children and youth can personally understand sin and grace. In other words, this education is about one life impacting another life. ‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

First, Christian education for children of Christians is both necessary and urgent.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪Because this generation is more and more crooked and depraved, teaching children to distinguish what is holy from an early age is very important. Deuteronomy chapter six tells us that a very important way to carry out the great commandment of loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength is through educating children.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪The importance of Christian education will not be discussed at length here. Instead you can refer to the following articles [links to articles not included in original article]‬‬‬:‬‬‬‬‬‬

“‪Great Commandment and The Mission of Education‬‬‬‬‬‬”
“Christians Must Pay Attention to Education‬‬‬‬‬‬” ‪
“Church Schools or Home Schooling?”

Currently in China, there are two streams of Christian education: the first is churches that open church-run schools, the second is Christians who open small-scale schools and Christian parents who home school their children. ‪But in fact, for many Christian families there is no choice.‬ ‪Let’s look at the situation for these two streams.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

First, let’s look at Church schools.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪
At present, there are very few church schools in China. Many churches recognize the importance of Christian education, but a church that has opened a church school is probably “one in a million.” Currently, you can count on one hand the number of schools opened by churches in China. ‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

There are several obstacles to the church school model in China.‬‬‬‬‬ ‬

(1) Policy Obstacles
‪Even though things are opening up, the government attitude towards the development of Christianity remains suppressive. Indeed, Christian schooling remains illegal.‬‬‬‬

It is a great burden for churches to operate church schools within this illegal context. Educating a child is not a one or two day thing, but is something that takes place over years, even decades. Many church pastors consider the problem of sustained maturity of children from a position of responsibility; however, the difficulties of dealing with the issue over the long term by building church schools that are illegal are too great. ‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

Historically, church schools have been one of the most important models of Christian education, and from a spiritual point of view they are often the best models. Many brothers and sisters strive to promote the development of church schools, but the current legal environment makes it almost impossible for them to develop successfully. ‬‬‬‬‬

(2) Pastor Awareness of Christian Education.‬
The understanding of many pastors regarding the importance of Christian education is inadequate. They believe it is a natural process for children to enter secular schools to act as light and salt in the world. ‬‬‬‬‬‬

(3) Pastors are busy with pastoral ministries.‬‬
Pastors are too busy with their own pastoral ministry work.‬‬ They have no time to take into consideration the long-term and arduous nature of Christian education for children.‬‬‬‬‬

Second, the Current Situation of Home Schooling and Micro-Schooling‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪
In recent years, the home-schooling concept has been brought over from the United States and has gained popularity. As a result, many families have discovered that they can immediately implement Christian education themselves at home. This is a great joy for many Christian brothers and sister. With more and more families aware of the concept of home schooling, communities that practice home schooling will rapidly increase.‬‬‬‬‬‬

‪Looking at the growing trends in the world of education, in the future home schooling will be the fastest growing and most suitable model for students’ abilities. Education in large schools is just the product of the industrial age. Subsequently, a recognition of its growing number of drawbacks and people’s reflections on industrial civilization means the future of schooling will trend towards smaller scale reforms and increased importance of family and community involvement in education.‬‬‬‬ ‪[For more reflections on schooling, refer to this article: “De-schooling Society” by Ivan Illich‬‬]‬‬*‬‬‬‬ ‪

We predict that home schooling families and small scale home schooling co-ops will become the most important model of Christian education in China.‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Importance of Christian Homeschooling Families and Small Scale Family Schools for Chinese Christian School Education

(1) Under the current policy, the home-schooling model is the best solution to surmount policy controls.‬‬

‪The decentralized model of homeschooling will greatly reduce the policy risk towards children’s education. In fact, the responsibility of education should be on the parents, not on the state because the sovereign right of education is in the hands of the parents, not the state. This fundamental human right belongs to the parents and is protected by the Charter of the United Nations. This is also the biblical concept of educational rights, as seen in Deuteronomy chapter six. It could be said that family education does not have any policy risks. Even if the future of a child’s college entrance exam was worked out, there also would not be any policy issues.‬‬ ‬‬‬‬ ‪

(2) Home-schooling emphasizes the educational responsibility of the parents and parental involvement in education, and helps the parents’ faith to take root.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

The great commandment in Deuteronomy chapter six to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, and strength is closely followed by the practice of educating children in order to carry out this great commandment. That is, God revealed that the method of practicing the great commandment is to educate our children. This is the manifestation of God’s profoundly mysterious will and wisdom. The world says that a child is the parent’s teacher and guide. When parents personally face their children’s education and daily family life, they must honestly confront their own faith. They cannot conduct the same superficial lives like in the church. Educating a child is an important way for parents to strengthen their faith. Furthermore, only by breaking away from the control of school education can parents restore a godly family worship lifestyle.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

(3) The emphasis of home schooling on family life will enable children from an early age to acquire the experience of a healthy family lifestyle. After becoming an adult they will be more equipped to positively face the challenging social pressures to the family as well as maintain a Christian concept of the family.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

One of the important challenges facing Christians today is how to face the social pressures from industrialization, commercialization, and materialism, as well as how to raise a Christian family. Everywhere we see the breakdown of families, rising divorce rates, homosexuality, abortions, and family members being hurt. Many social problems are rooted in our family problems. This is because nowadays there are few who raise their families according to the Bible. We see families in which both spouses work to chase after worldly fame and wealth, searching to fulfill their materialistic desires. And while their children are in school with no one there to serve the family, the family becomes hollow. Many young people are fearful of having a family, and fearful of raising and educating children. They are unable to enjoy the happiness and love that comes with having children.‬‬‬‬‬‬

‪We urgently need to change our attitude towards the family and our attitude towards raising children. We need to maintain and pass on Christian families, which will be a great blessing for our children and grandchildren.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

To embed home schooling into family life will help children learn the essential peace and joy in line with the experience of biblical family life.

‬‬‬‬‬‬Home schooling can provide an education for children that teaches a more biblical view of adolescence and human nature, which is more in accordance with the discipleship teaching of our Lord Jesus.

Our hearts are fixated on the world. We are enticed by the big but empty and superficial things in life. Education today, which is something of a Babylon, causes us to seek after quantities, after titles, and after standardization. Even as Christians, our hearts are too forcefully drawn in by the world. ‬‪If we follow this world we will be captives of it, not salt and light in it.‬‬ ‪The products of industrialization and consumerism are models of the devil. Large-scaled and comprehensive, standardized and competitive forms of education are also models of the devil.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

‪True education in line with Christ’s will for education is above all not covetous. While many people were led to follow Jesus, he instead led his disciples to retreat with him into the mountains. ‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

True education is not about money. Jesus, as poor as he was, led twelve disciples, yet he did not even have a place to rest his head. Education is the transmission of life; it is not, the competition for money.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

Education is also about building relationships. The two great commandments are the relationship between man and God, and relationships between people. The school system is a large scale factory that is built without relationships.‬‬‬‬‬‬

‪In the Bible, every person created by God is bestowed with enormous sanctity and unique individual worth; every child is different. Home schooling emphasizes personalized education according to each student’s abilities, precisely in line with the God-given sanctity and individual worth of children. This resembles a prime example of small scale education that Jesus modeled with the twelve disciples. ‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪This is how the church and Christians today understand home schooling and small scale home schooling co-ops.‬‬‬‬‬‬

‪If we don’t properly understand home schooling and small scale co-ops, we will not be able to understand the significance of the development of home schooling in China. This misunderstanding will also influence the direction of our ministry.‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‪

Currently, in the area of Christian education in China many brothers and sisters are focused on church schools. Yet, home schooling ministries are in very short supply due to a lack of understanding about the purpose of home schooling.‬‬‬‬‬‬

Original article: 教会学校还是在家教育
Photo: Chicago Tribune

We’re Moving!

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In June 2012, ChinaSource launched Chinese Church Voices as a platform to give those outside of China a chance to “listen in” on the conversations that Chinese Christians are having online in the public space called The Internet.

Since our beginning, we have published 140 different posts, all translations of content from Christian online platforms within China. Readers from 40 different countries (including China) have viewed these posts.

For technical and financial reasons, we have hosted this site on WordPress, a popular blogging platform.

This email is to alert you to the fact that in early December we will be moving Chinese Church Voices to the new ChinaSource website. You could say we’re bringing it “home.”

By moving to the ChinaSource site, we hope to more fully integrate it within the family of ChinaSource publications. Being on the ChinaSource site will also allow for cross-referencing the content with other similar content produced by ChinaSource.

In order to prepare for the move, we will cease posting new content for the next three weeks.

We are grateful for your interest in Chinese Church Voices, and invite you to make use if this hiatus to follow the ChinaSource Twitter feed, (@chinasourceorg) where we will continue to post links to interesting and timely articles about the Church in China.

P.S. The ChinaSource Annual Report 2013-2014 is now available. Rejoice with us in what God has done!

Photo by kafka4prez, via Flickr (creative commons license)

 

 

 

Making the Most of Christmas

The popularity of Christmas in China (primarily as a commercial activity) has given Christians increased opportunities to share the gospel. In the short article translated below,  a preacher in Beijing encourages his parishioners to be intentional about inviting family, friends and colleagues to church during the Christmas season.

beijing christmas tree

A Young Preacher in Beijing Encourages Christians to Use the Time before Christmas to Spread the Gospel.

On October 26, during a worship time at a house church in Chaoyang District of Beijing, a young preacher encouraged the congregation, reminding them that the time between October and Christmas is the golden harvest season for urban churches. It is during this time that many will visit a church for the first time, and many of them will be seekers.

He encouraged the congregation, saying “let’s work together for the gospel; with sincerity and courage let’s invite our relatives, friends and colleagues, and even those whom we don’t know to come to church.”

He also shared his own experience: “I came to Beijing many years ago to get my Bachelor’s degree. This is where I work, and also where I met God. I came to faith, and was married in the church. I grew in faith as a Christian and also as a husband in the church. If someone asked me, “do you love Beijing?” I would say that I do! As a Beijing citizen, I love Beijing; it is my second home.”

However, mingled with this love are pain and tears.

Although Beijing is a bustling and beautiful city, it is the same as other cities.

Behind the tall buildings, there are shadows. Under the neon lights, there are tears of blood.

Behind the facade lies all kinds of sin, idolatry, discrimination, and strife.

At the same time, the city is full of displaced souls that are anxious and broken.

Every Christian who comes to church has a calling and a mission given by God. The Christian faith is one that goes out and comes in (returns).

Jesus called his disciples to follow him, and then sent those disciples to preach the gospel and to make disciples.

Every Christian must receive this call, whether in Beijing or in your hometown. Bringing people from all corners to the church.

This is the responsibility of every Christian who works and worships in Beijing.

If we don’t do it, who will?

Today, we must not only pray for our churches, but for the “above ground” churches as well. We must pray that all churches will be able to fulfill the mission entrusted to them by the Lord — to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Original article:北京一青年传道鼓励基督徒抓住机会 圣诞节前广传福音 (Christian Times)(Translated and posted by permission)

Photo by ChershireCat@TO, via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

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Ten Commandments of Christmas

Video: A Christmas Eve Service

 

 

Do Chinese Men and Women Deserve Each Other?

Chinese young people are no different from their counterparts anywhere in the world in that a main question they face is the one of whom to marry. China’s rise and modernization has, in some ways, made this a more complicated question as ideas about marriage and qualifications for a spouse have evolved.

There are many lively online discussions about all this, but a recent online article titled “Chinese Men Do Not Deserve Chinese Women” created quite a dust up. Joining the conversation was a Christian who penned his thoughts on the matter in the online publication Territory. The title of the post is “Chinese Men and Women: Who, in the End, is Good Enough for Whom?”

Territory is an online journal for Christian intellectuals that explores matters of faith, culture, and contemporary society. The best place to read Territory is on their Sina Blog. You an also subscribe to receive it directly to your mobile device via Weixin (WeChat). Their Weibo handle is 微信newjingjie.

In the article translated below, the writer addresses the current situation, looks at the historical and cultural standards for men in China, and then highlights what the Bible says about godly manhood.

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Summary:

‪The article “Chinese Men Do Not Deserve Chinese Women” has received a lot of attention, raising the question, “who then deserves Chinese women”? Men and women have hurled accusations and thrown eggs at each other, demonstrating the brokenness of human nature. Only by facing and acknowledging that their own image has been destroyed by sin, that their own righteousness cannot possibly save them, can men and women experience a longing for redemption. Brokenness is the road that man must walk in order to return to a healthy and glorious image.

Chinese Men and Women; Who in the End is Good Enough for Whom?

‪Recently, the article “Chinese Men Do Not Deserve Chinese Women” has received a lot of attention online. But to single out Chinese men and roast them over a fire is unfair, since no one man can represent Chinese men on the whole. This type of symbolic discussion can make a person depressed and makes it very difficult to have a constructive discussion.

‪This viewpoint that “Chinese women have quickly modeled how to carry themselves according to sophisticated standards, while Chinese men are very crass, very unfashionable, and very rigid,” seems appropriate. In fact, it sounds very similar to when we say that “Made in China” products are good quality, affordable, and appealing, but corporate management and innovation are not equally good. The gap between the outward appearance of Chinese people and their internal state is quite big, big enough to ignore the gap in differences between men and women.

‪Taking a closer look, the popularity and “likes” of these opinions conjures up an image of a thicket of dispirited males over which towers an unyielding superwoman. Acknowledging the mutual attraction between the two sexes and expecting mutual support for each other has been reduced to a joke, not to mention the self-sacrifice and real practice of submission to another’s character necessary to preserve a loving marriage. Speculating from a psychological point of view and from the popularity and spread of similar opinion pieces, perhaps there are a considerable number of Chinese women who had the misfortune to grow up in broken homes, who carry around resentment at the hurt men have caused them, to the extent that they have no way of putting together a healthy family. At the same time due to their choice to love themselves and avoid self-reflection they will project their problems onto their boyfriends, missing the healing opportunity to acknowledge that “I want to get better.”

‪Therefore, it is not surprising that the question “who on earth is worthy of Chinese women?” would suddenly appear in online discussions. Someone also quipped, “Chinese women say they will not marry without a house, so Chinese men buy property at the world’s highest prices. Chinese women also want cars, so Chinese men have made China into the world’s largest automobile consumer. Chinese women also says that they want Louis Vuitton, Dior, etc., so Chinese men have opened their wallets to make China the world’s biggest consumer of luxury goods!”

‪Think about if a male author wrote an article called “Chinese Women Are Not Good Enough for Chinese Men” and also chastised women for a variety of things such as how they are prideful, vain, disobedient, do not understand love, and various other displeasing things in his eyes. After all, if people have an unblemished expectation of humanity in their minds then without a doubt men and women will be living within the helplessness of a dream. In God’s view, we all lack the glory and honor with which we originally lived. The fact of the matter is that men and women hurling eggs and insults at each other demonstrates our brokenness.

Are Chinese men really unacceptable?

‪There was a period when the sophistication of Chinese men was very admirable.* In the “Book of Songs” we read about how stylish and sincere our ancestors were. ‪In the poem 《抑》in the “Major Court Hymns” section of the “Book of Songs,” it says,

A humble and respectful man,
His behaviors are rooted in virtues.
When giving good advice, he yields to them and practices morality.

A gentleman is first a humble person with a refined moral character, and acts in accordance with virtue.

In the poem 《小戎》of the “Odes of Qin” we read,

When I think of my husband, he is gentle like the understated brightness of precious jade.

This means that the sophisticated demeanor of the husband is not flashy, but gentle like jade.

In the poem 《叔于田》of the “Odes of Zheng” we read about “who is truly admirable and kind,” “who is truly admirable and good,” and “who is truly admirable and martial.” The image of a resolute man is someone who is kind, virtuous, and brave; these are the highest standards of this early man.

‪In those days, Chinese men needed to strive very hard to cultivate their own character.

The poem 《淇奥》in the “Odes of Chen” praises the cultivation of character by a gentleman:

[He keeps learning and improving] As made from knife and the file;
As made from the chisel and the polisher!

And

To be like gold and tin, to be like a scepter of jade.

He continues to sharpen himself and make progress.

At that time, Chinese men did not parade their wealth.

As the poem 《衡门》 from the “Odes of Chen” says,

Beneath my door made of cross pieces of wood,
I can rest at my leisure;

This means that even if a house were damaged to the point that wooden sticks are used to make the door frame, he can still live peacefully. What powerful inner dignity! They simply do not need money and status to uphold the strength of a man.

‪In those days, Chinese men valued fidelity. The poem 《出其东门》 in the “Odes of Zheng” speaks of a man persistent in love.

I went out at the east gate,
Where there were beautifully dressed women, as many as the clouds.
Although there were many,
none were in my thoughts.
The one who wears plain and inexpensive clothes is in my heart.
She is my joy!

The man saw women outside the east gate of the city who were as beautiful and numerous as the clouds, but his heart was not aroused, because the only thing on his mind was the girl wearing plain and inexpensive clothing.

For life or for death, however separated,
To our wives we pledged our word. We held their hands;
We were to grow old together with them.

From the poem 《击鼓》in “Ode to Bei,” in which the strong emotion surges over a millennium, ‪ a sophisticated man has faith and knows reverence. “As I fear God, I dare not offend righteousness.” (see the “Speech of Tang” in the “Book of History”).

The 《大明》 in the “Greater Odes of the Kingdom,” says,

This king Wen,
Watchfully and reverently,
With entire intelligence served God.

The men of that time believed God was transcendent, not sovereign over one country or one person. He was a god who monitored everything and knew the hardships of the country folk. All people were God’s children. The common people were all children of heaven whom the king cared for; for this reason he was called the primary son.

‪Although the “god” in which they believed in the ancient past and the God of the Bible have similarities and differences, yet this image is still not enough to dispel the concept of a heavenly law of morality. Prior to the Qin Dynasty, divine constraints on monarchial power became merely figurative practices. “Intercession between Heaven and Earth (绝地天通),” the communication between God and man, was broken off. The Will of Heaven was unpredictable, so there was a decline into fatalism. Only the emperor could be called the Son of Heaven and he replaced God as the recipient of the people’s worship. “Rule by divine virtue” became reduced to the superficial show of “rule by virtue.” Rule according to the beliefs of the leader’s heart became the method of governance and tactic of the legalists who play a wicked game of “driving out good money with bad.” The number of survivors who have had their backs broken by this movement far exceeds those of men with strong character.

‪After all, what is “decency?”

‪Since before the Qin Dynasty, the acceleration of autocracy and man-centered worship were two sides of the same process. The healthy image of Chinese men was increasingly being destroyed by sin, nearly damaging the original image of God so that nothing was left. Previously men were still relatively simple and honest. There was a saying that “a circle drawn on the ground could act as a prison (划地.牢),” and that it was better to keep one’s word than “to die holding a column (抱柱而死).” This is a far cry from today where cheap counterfeit products are everywhere and integrity is completely lacking. Confucius wanted to restore “benevolence,” and Mencius advocated “justice;” both were related to types of concepts that people still held at that time. If it was not in a person’s heart, then it would not be heard from his mouth.

‪When people criticize Chinese men as not being “decent,” the implied premise is that we first have a “model” for decency. What is that model actually like? This model is certainly not from men, but from God. The Book of Genesis clearly states that God made humans “according to his own image and likeness.” A person’s “likeness,” including the body and soul, both come from God.

‪God put “honor and glory” into the image of man and people therefore became honorable and glorious living creatures. This “likeness” of God belongs to all people, regardless of nationality, race, wealth, gender, health, disability, or age. Even old, decrepit sick people should not be sorrowful because “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” [2 Cor. 4:16]. Similarly, we have majesty and hope.

‪When people are indecent on the inside, they become indecent on the outside. When people’s spiritual conscience is blinded by lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, they have a false understanding of the meaning of “likeness.” They take “likeness” to mean the outer appearance of something and therefore culture leads them down a mistaken path — to build up their own appearances according to the so-called advanced worldly standards.

‪”Likeness” is not like this. The prophecy about our Lord Jesus Christ from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah says, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” On the contrary, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….” But his life was completely like that of God, as “the image of the invisible God.”

‪As the book “The Silence of Adam” points out, men of this generation are searching after masculinity much more than they are seeking after God. They emphasize self-discovery and self-realization more than they emphasize obedience to God. But they have overlooked a simple truth: the way to have masculinity (to be manly) is to first want godliness (to be godly). Jesus, “the image of God,” is before our very eyes. Men who “imitate Christ,” not who are enamored with themselves, will become the true men of our times.

‪In the Old Testament God said, “Be holy, because I the Lord your God am holy.” In the New Testament Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Book of Ephesians proclaims the new humanity, that people should cast off the old self and be “made new,” “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

‪”True righteousness and holiness” carries to us wonderful implications and assurance! A person with this “likeness” is better than all the vigorous, valiant, tough Chinese men from the “Book of Songs” because the image of God in him has been restored! This is not only a portrait for men, rather, regardless of gender, race, and nationality, humanity all shares in this common glorious image.

‪This world tells men that only those who are strong, tough, smart, and in control can survive, succeed, and “deserve” a beautiful woman. This is similar to one sick patient using his own twisted behavior to cater to the morbid psychological needs of another sick patient. Jesus Christ, through His life and teachings, tells us that mankind’s greatest weakness is actually his greatest strength. The love between these sick people seems promising, but actually it is because we learn how to depend on Him as our healer that we no longer depend on our own wisdom.

‪Men and women are like this. Only when we face and acknowledge that our own image is destroyed by sin, that our own righteousness cannot possibly save us, and only within our own brokenness can there then emerge a desire for redemption. Start to search for and find the light of life. Brokenness is the path we must take to return to a healthy and glorious likeness.

* The author quotes from a number of Chinese poems found in the Classic of Poetry, part of the Five Classics traditionally said to have been compiled by Confucius.

Original article: 中国男人和中国女人,到底谁配不上谁?(© Territory — translated and posted with permission)

Photo by Chris, via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The Wenzhou Church Reborn from the Ashes

‪This year’s attacks on church buildings in Wenzhou have been the subject of much analysis, the majority focusing on the relationship between church and government in Wenzhou. The following blog post, written by a Christian in China, and published in the mainland Christian Times, takes a closer look at the impact on the Wenzhou church itself.

While not dismissing the seriousness of the attacks, the writer nonetheless suggests that the unfortunate events of this year may actually prove to be a significant turning point in the development of the Wenzhou church. Key to his argument is a return to the true nature and purpose of the church – one of the enduring lessons of the church in China during the past 65 years but a lesson that had perhaps been forgotten during the prosperous decades of reform. Today, as Wenzhou churches are under attack, church leaders again need to examine their priorities. Outward success measures such as the size of church buildings and congregations are giving way to a renewed focus on personal spiritual growth. In place of an almost exclusive focus on the well being of Wenzhou church members comes a healthy concern for the society and a fresh understanding of the interconnectedness of all believers in China.

The sense of urgency that has characterized the church scene in Zhejiang Province in recent months is hastening this awakening. Rebirth is emerging out of the ashes of despair. The painful but necessary pruning that is now taking place will, in God’s timing, bring forth greater fruit in years to come.

Chashan Church

 The Wenzhou Church Reborn from the Ashes

‪The church in Wenzhou has always attracted much attention and has seemingly become the weather vane of the church in China. Today, however, the attention received is no longer because of its ubiquitous eye-catching crosses, but because of the fiercest trial it has faced since the Cultural Revolution. To date we have no way of knowing exactly how many churches and crosses have been demolished during the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign. “Church” signs on the buildings have been changed to “Elderly Activity Center.” Formerly neon-lit crosses have been, one by one, wrapped in burlap and the churches demolished. The demolition of crosses has become an ache in the soul of many Christians and has left many observers dumbfounded. But after experiencing this raging inferno, we see that in this baptism of fire a new kind of Wenzhou church is being reborn in the ashes. Two years ago I wrote an essay titled “The Decline of the Wenzhou Church.” Now, as a result of this terrible campaign, the Wenzhou church is on the verge of experiencing a fiery rebirth.

1. From competition over physical structures to spiritual construction.

‪In recent years, the economic conditions for the Wenzhou church have been quite favorable. Competition to build churches had almost become the order of the day. As soon as a new church was built, it was torn down and rebuilt again! Before the new building was even filled with people, they begin to build an even bigger and more luxurious one. There are many domestic intellectuals who have raised critical objections to this point, arguing that it’s normal for every church leader to want his church to be the most visible and most beautiful. Quantifiable things have become their own performance evaluation standards, but they have had little overall success. “Large churches, few believers” has become the common characteristic of many Wenzhou village churches. At the same time, however, the style of the church building has become increasingly more important. Many believers mistakenly think that tithing to support building a church building (建堂) is the same as building a congregation (建教会). Since they believe this pleases God, they happily tithe to build a church building. Congregations often use church building projects as a means of uniting believers. This recent church demolition campaign, however, surprised people at first, then caused many congregations to sober up. They have learned that a church building is not the same as a congregation of believers and that a congregation without a building is still a church. So now, instead of competing to see who can build the best building, the focus has shifted to the spiritual construction of believers. Training programs have increased, the number of people studying theology (but not necessarily in full-time ministry) has increased, and spiritual formation is once again being valued. I believe that the experiences of the Wenzhou church during the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign will bring about maturity.

2. From Three-Self / house church division to substantive unity.

‪Prior to the church demolitions, Three-Self churches and house churches in Wenzhou had little or no contact with one another. This was also true of native Wenzhou and non-native Wenzhou communities. The result was that they were actually in competition with one another. However, the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign suddenly made all these groups (registered and unregistered churches; local Wenzhou churches and non-native churches) realize the common danger they were facing. They were reminded that we are all members of one body and if one part suffers we all suffer. We must help each other in harsh circumstances in order to survive. This deep insight has caused the Wenzhou church go from “no contact with each other” towards “mutual understanding and acceptance,” from “personal politics” towards “substantial unity.” This unity also includes cooperation between native Wenzhou and non-native Wenzhou churches.

3. From chaotic religious investment to purity of ministry service.

‪Because in the past the Wenzhou church provided a platform for fame and profit, many church leaders, to put it bluntly, were “speculators” of this fame and profit. Greedy for fame and fortune, ignorant and incompetent, given to sensationalism, they did things that they themselves were not good at in order to improve their reputation and increase their popularity. The church demolition events that were triggered by the tightening policies on religion will mean that these church “speculators” will have no choice but to weigh the cost of such speculation. If this campaign continues, the church will eliminate a number of religious “speculators,” a group of vulgar leaders and preachers. Of course, the true believers will be more resolute, helping to make clear the distinction between true believers and religious speculators. In fact, this group of speculators is now waiting to see which way the wind will blow, keeping silent during the campaign. On various occasions they expressed dissimilar voices, waiting for a time of opportunistic change. But if the church becomes more ardent as this type of event plays out and as this continues to ferment, church leaders will be forced to articulate their positions. (The last two botched sessions of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress [两会] really do not match the political stance of a production team leader from the 1960s.)1 This will result in the cleaning out of a number of religious fame and fortune speculators and the church will therefore be more pure. This will provide an opportunity for the Wenzhou church to be sanctified, bringing once again a big revival.

4. From trending towards prosperity theology to returning to the salvation theology of the cross.

‪Over the years, along with the success of the charismatic movement, the so-called “prosperity gospel” has exploded in mainland churches. Awareness of the prosperity gospel recently began to emerge in some Wenzhou churches. So in one sense, the start of the so-called “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign came just in time and in the right place to convincingly give the recently intruding prosperity gospel a whack on the head. As a result, the Wenzhou church has begun to reverse this prosperity gospel trend and is beginning to return to the salvation theology of the cross. It is moving from the “optimism hermeneutic” of showy displays of happiness and prosperity back towards the hermeneutic of revelation. In this sense, the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” event has undoubtedly led to a regenerative movement to maintain the purity of the church in Wenzhou. In communication with students in Wenzhou, we have noticed a decrease in fantastical visions for “heaven on earth,” and somewhat of an increase in profound distress; a decrease in designs for material construction, and somewhat of an increase in sharing about spiritual experiences; less of a sense of superiority, and more a sense of crisis. Most obvious is the moving away from notions to build tall and impressive church buildings and back to the theology of suffering, the historical mission of Christians, social responsibility, and spiritual reflection over salvation theology. I think that this is an important step towards maturity on the part of not only the Wenzhou church, but of the Chinese church.

5. From gradual secularization of indifference towards an enthusiastic sense of crisis.

‪Before the Sanjiang Church Incident, the church in Wenzhou had a universal optimistic mood of blind superiority. Such sentiments gradually caused the Wenzhou church to be inclined toward secularism, (in fact, valuing the magnificence of the outside of the church over the humility and formation of the lives of those inside the church is precisely one form of secularism). Secularization caused the Wenzhou church to lose the zeal of the generation of believers after the Cultural Revolution. As a result, the new generation in the Wenzhou church became indifferent, even apathetic. However, after the Sanjiang Church Incident, we noticed some changes. In the past, when we read about Jesus Christ warning the church of the hardship and persecution it would face in the last days, we had thought this was in the distant past or the future. But now, we are very clearly aware that perhaps we are that generation. We will eventually face the apocalyptic warnings Jesus spoke of during Passion Week. But this sense of crisis has made the church become more sober and full of enthusiasm. Our church has begun thinking about our social responsibility, our call to missions, the purpose of our existence, as well as the form of development our church really needs. This is a peripheral incident that prompted the Wenzhou church to reassess and awaken.

6. More than ever the church values theology and church education.

‪The Sanjiang Church Incident forced the Wenzhou church to shift its development objectives from church construction to life training and the building of a church culture. Before and after this event, more and more church figures realized they needed a foundation of theology. They needed to clarify the church’s tradition, and promote the establishment of church education and the tradition of family faith. Even if it is just an act, this can be seen by the number of Wenzhou preachers, even preachers of the older generation, who are beginning to focus instead on the impact of the Internet. After the Sanjiang Church Incident, the awareness of this was pushed to a new climax by the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign. For the foreseeable future, when the course and energy of church development are forced to turn from constructing church buildings, inevitably it will push the church to devote its efforts to the development of theology and church education – those spiritual foundations of construction. I believe that, with Wenzhou at the epicenter, this particular “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” event will have the result of upgrading the quality of theological education in large areas of the domestic church. In the near future, the domestic church will produce theological scholars in all different areas of higher education. Many ordinary church pastors in our ranks will have a Doctor of Theology. The resulting large number of domestic and overseas scholars produced from this will also be uniquely qualified for the ministry of theological education in Mainland China.

7. From personal politics to gradually producing contemporary pioneer-style spiritual leaders.

‪Except for several highly respected contemporary church leaders, the domestic church so far has not since produced any church leaders of a similar mold. Although there is no shortage of people doing all they can to become this generation’s church leader, none have been successful. This does not mean that the church does not need these church leaders, nor does it mean the era of church heroes has passed; however, without the right opportunity, a generation of “heroes” cannot be created! The “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign has provided a “right opportunity” for creating the “church hero.” Personal charm, charisma, leadership in times of crisis, church approval, theologically trained, a nimble political mind as well as the ability to promote character are characteristics required for contemporary church leaders. These characteristics all seem to be present. The essential catalyst is the right opportunity for a crisis in the current situation, and the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign is precisely that. If the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign continues to evolve, it will help Wenzhou, and it will help the nationwide church go so far as to produce a contemporary pioneer-style spiritual leader, and thereby establish a special team. A contemporary leader of this type may appear in the house church, or within the institutional church. Maybe he’ll have to pay a certain political price, but the higher this price, the higher his prestige, increasing the opportunities for the church to create more great spiritual leaders. Even with superior political acumen he would not need to pay a political price, but would only need to find a balance in the tension between a person and his abilities, perhaps producing similar contemporary church leaders.

8. From the big talking “theological craftsmen” towards young preachers with a contemporary spirit and theological foundation.

‪Before the events of the Sanjiang Church Incident, many of our young generation of preachers had never even completely read John Calvin’s Institutes; however, this has not stopped them uninhibitedly rattling on about Calvinism. They may have obtained a little theological training, but they still lack basic theological maturity and cultivation. Since they are fond of criticizing others over nit-picky theological details, I have come to call them “theological craftsmen.” Questions raised by these theological craftsmen are difficult theological propositions to wrestle with and to think through in their spiritual, contextual, and historical backgrounds. Those desiring to be regarded as theologians especially enjoy arrogantly droning on about theology. What the theological craftsmen produce actually has little to do with what is being produced within the church. But the crisis of the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign gives the church no choice to play armchair theology. We need to think about our own mission, values ​​and a way out from the current plight we find ourselves in, and also, rooted in theological contemplation, discover logical explanations and the church’s developmental path for our current circumstances. Theologians are not trained in laboratories, but are forged in current reality. Therefore, it is possible to transform these theological craftsmen into true preachers who are molded by the spirit of the era and with a theological foundation. The campaign gives us an opportunity for this kind of transformation.

9. From native Wenzhou pride towards honoring the catholicity and apostolic succession of the church.

‪For a time the Wenzhou church was extremely xenophobic. It was very difficult for outsiders to be accepted in Wenzhou church circles. In the past, second and third generation native Wenzhou preachers often had a superiority complex. If you paid attention to the way they talked you would often hear, “My Wenzhou is like this or like that” carelessly come up in conversation with co-laborers in Wenzhou. They habitually reference their own experiences and particular Wenzhou church culture to measure the differences with the situations of other churches. But the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign has forced the Wenzhou church to start considering their own position from theological tradition and questions about the nature of the church and they have begun to accept non-Wenzhou churches. This thought process and communication with non-Wenzhou churches will force the Wenzhou church to consider historic theology as well as the catholic and ecumenical nature of the church in light of their own plight and mission. This will help elevate their values and the church culture. The Sanjiang Church Incident is an opportunity for a Second Great Awakening in the Wenzhou church following the Cultural Revolution.

10. Self-centeredness towards accepting non-Wenzhou communities.

‪Somewhat similar to the point above, along with the outflow of the native populace and the inflow of non-Wenzhou communities into the Wenzhou church, contact and acceptance between churches is on the rise. In the past, the Wenzhou church focused much more on its own church growth. It was very easy to use it’s own customs as a basis for what was proper. Now, however, the church is looking at what lessons can be learned from the outside. They are more accepting of non-Wenzhou groups and are promoting modernized and internationalized church reform.

11. From employing church doctrine to the importance of building church culture.

‪Wenzhou culture has a practical and pragmatic, or, you could say, utilitarian cultural tradition. This is very different from the inland farming culture or nomadic cultures of northwest China. Wenzhou culture is more similar to a maritime culture. This culture is characterized by valuing practicality, performance, risk-taking, economics and trade, and pragmatics over philosophical guidelines. Maritime culture is more conducive to the spread of Christianity. From the earliest days of Chinese history, Wenzhou was engaged in maritime trade, something that has been manifested in both migration and smuggling across distant lands. Perhaps influenced by the local maritime culture of Wenzhou, the Wenzhou church places a high value on visible, quantifiable church assets. This is a characteristic of Wenzhou church culture. However, due to the current campaign, the era of focusing on building church structures has come to an end; going forward, churches in Wenzhou will no longer be able to compete with one another for the best “hardware.” The Wenzhou church has no choice but to begin focusing on building a church culture that is characterized by a Christian lifestyle, education, training, and other methods that will increase the maturity and cohesion of the church. This new culture will help the Wenzhou church have a substantial impact on Wenzhou society. This may also become a pioneering model for the domestic church.

12. From an optimistic sense of peacefulness towards a sense of crisis.

‪The past attitude of superiority on the part of the Wenzhou church was very similar to pre-WWI liberalism in the West, which held that the world would inevitably continue to turn towards a peaceful path of progress. The Wenzhou church was extremely optimistic about the future, believing that religious policies would open up more, the number of believers would continue to grow, and the more churches built the bigger they would be. It believed that revival in the church would continue to increase, the status of believers would continue to grow, and Christians would increasingly become synonymous with being fashionable. They believed that a Christian kingdom would come, and that Jesus would return within the foreseeable future. They believed that life would get better and better, everything would be peaceful, the earth would become a wonderful heaven. Indeed, we have built our hopes upon the earth, not expecting Jesus to come quickly. However, after the Sanjiang Church Incident, the church has begun to feel a sense of crisis. From theology and eschatology, the church has begun to reflect on the current circumstances. I believe that this sense of crisis will promote awakening and reassessment within the church. The “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign will bring awareness to the Wenzhou church. In terms of the development of the church, this campaign may very well prove to be a turning point for the Wenzhou church, allowing it to focus on mature growth and strength, and thus avoiding the denigration that happened with the Roman Church. In this sense, the “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” campaign will promote the healthy development of Wenzhou church.

‪At this point, I am reminded of Jesus’ words when he said, “every branch that does not bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful!” Prune from our body the branches that do not bear fruit and let the real fruit grow more abundantly. This process is painful, but it will have a good result. Behind this heartbreaking series of events, it is clear that Jesus Christ is still truly in charge. If we trust in the prophecy of Jesus, we will easily endure hardship. I believe it is all grace. Indeed, as the Psalmist says, “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as King forever.” Seen in this way, it is just as Joseph acknowledged: “But God meant it for good!”

‪I believe that this crisis will inevitably provide the Wenzhou church an opportunity to be reborn from the ashes!

*Editor’s note: In the 1960s the Chinese countryside was organized into production brigades (formerly called villages). It was the most grassroots form of governance and decision-making. In this sentence the author seems to be expressing his dissatisfaction with the work of China’s highest level legislative bodies by making an unfavorable comparison to the 1960s work brigades.

Article: 张远来:浴火重生的温州教会 in the Christian Times. Translated and posted with permission.

Photo Credit: CC image “Chashan Church” by Ken Larmon, via Flickr.