Chinese New Year 1

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. 2019’s Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 5. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be re-publishing a series of posts that I wrote last year to help explain this great holiday and how its celebrated.

We are fast approaching a fascinating time of year in China – Spring Festival, otherwise known as Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is the largest festival (holiday) on the Chinese calendar. Schools let out, businesses close, and everyone returns to their hometown to celebrate the festival with family.

The few weeks and even months leading up to Chinese New Year can be a busy time in China as Chinese see the festival as a time for everything to be “new”. New clothes are bought, houses are cleaned (this is akin to “spring cleaning” in America), haircuts are gotten, final exams are taken, and business deals are brought to a close – all before the new year.

As the festival draws closer, streets become full to overflowing with the color red, which is a symbol of good luck and fortune. Red lanterns, red banners, red signs, and other red trappings line the streets. Houses are decorated red as well. Red paper with blessings written on them outlines the thresholds of homes and come complete with a red emblem of the character 福,meaning “blessing”, posted on the centers of doors – all to invite blessings to visit their homes for the upcoming year.

I cannot overstate just how HUGE this festival is in the lives of Chinese people. Their year hinges on it, similar to how our year hinges on Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is a time for the people to reset, reflect on the previous year, and look with anticipation at the coming year to see what it has in store.

It’s not until the eve of the New Year finally arrives, however, that the real festivities begin…

January 2019 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends,

God is good! He was faithful to bless us in so many ways in December. We were able to present our ministry in 14 churches in SC, NC, AL, GA, WV, VA, FL, LA, and SC. In addition to the meetings, we were able to spend time with family in AL  for Christmas, and I was able to preach and further present China at the Our Generation Summit in OH. The Lord has kept us safe on the road both in December and throughout 2018. We are grateful for the many ways He prepares us to return to China!

In the month of January we are scheduled to be in 9 churches in SC, TN, GA, VA, IN, and  AL. Missions conference season is gearing back up as we will be participating in two missions conferences. We are exciting for these opportunities to present China. Please pray that the Lord would both allow us to be a blessing to churches and continue to raise our support as we travel and share the burden He has given us to make Him known in China.

Vision Baptist Mission’s Vision For China team was privileged to publish and release our book, A Thousand Lives, in December at the Our Generation Summit. The book is a passionate plea for a pipeline of unashamed believers boldly proclaiming the gospel in China and has contributions from each of Vision Baptist Mission’s eight missionaries to the Chinese speaking world. It is our prayer that this book will be used of the Lord to raise up more laborers to take the gospel to the great harvest field of China and the many other harvest fields around the world.

Visit www.visionforchina.org to check out our book and learn how you can get your own copy!

 

 

A Better Way

The email read, “A call to carefulness,” followed by a link. “I love you!” it concluded. That was it. My dad signed his name. It was May 2014, and I was in my fourth year of teaching English and serving churches in Southeast China. The link my dad sent me directed me to a blog article written by a missionary who had just been deported from the country a couple of weeks previous. The churches that he started in Northeast China had been raided by police on Easter Sunday.

I poured over the article. Why was he kicked out? What did he do? What line was crossed? Was I doing the same things? How was he discovered? What sort of punishment were the Chinese believers he left behind met with? If I continued leading small groups at church and took opportunities to preach, would I face similar consequences?

These questions and many more kept me coming back to the missionary’s website day after day reading his previous entries and scouring it for links to other related websites. I wanted answers, yes. But more than answers, I wanted to read about how there were others in China doing what I could only dream of doing—boldly being used by the Lord to turn China upside down.

Through that blog post I discovered a band of dedicated men. I learned that each of them had their own ministries. Some were already in China, while others were still raising support stateside. I learned that while two of those men were deported, one was still in another city faithfully continuing with a church plant. The fear had not gotten to him—but neither had the police!

I read that though those two were not allowed back for many years, they were not giving up. They relocated to Taiwan where they continued to start churches and keep in touch with those they had started in the mainland. Those churches in the mainland continued on even when their foreign leadership was removed, and the missionaries were able to provide remote support, discipleship, and ministry training via the internet. “Surely the other man will be shut down,” I thought. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Yet day after day and week after week, updates were coming through indicating that the government authorities were not aware of the church. He and the Chinese believers were continuing to boldly proclaim the gospel. Jesus was faithfully building His church in China! And He was allowing the building of churches in Northeast China to be accomplished through the bold efforts of American missionaries—something I had not realized was possible!

Still in disbelief, I watched online silently for a year. An entire year. I saw the persistence of those kicked out as they continued serving in Taiwan. I read of the continued boldness in the mainland. I learned that the Lord was adding to the ranks of these missionaries those who were not swayed by the threat of persecution, but instead were willing to count the cost and live to give maximum glory to Jesus Christ in China. Quietly, secretly, I yearned to join that band of men.

I could not help but compare what I was doing in China to what these missionaries were doing. We seemed to be in China for the same reason—to impact China with the gospel of Christ. We were all serving our Lord on the front lines, but my strategy seemed radically different from theirs. While I was leading a Bible study here and there through a local church, they were planting churches. While I was spending twenty or so hours of my week at a school teaching children basic English vocabulary, they were spending as much or more time each week training young men in pastoral ministry.

The only fruit I had to show for my job as a teacher was supporting myself and ensuring that these Chinese students finished class with their English level slightly higher than before. But what good was it to teach Chinese children the rudiments of English if they would pass through my class without even gaining a rudimentary knowledge of the gospel? What good was it that they would be able to arrive in hell with better English than their friends?

I came to realize that something about my missions strategy needed to change. Something had to give. I had come to China wanting to do great things for Christ and the gospel, but after years in China I did not have much of eternal value to show for it. It was not that teaching English was wrong or sinful. I even had opportunities to lead others to Christ. But I was realizing that there was a better way. A way to reach the multitude and not just a few. A way that would bring more glory to Jesus Christ.

The above is an excerpt taken from the chapter I wrote for Vision For China‘s book, A Thousand Lives. To read the rest of the chapter and learn about the “better way” of doing missions in China that I was to learn, please visit www.visionforchina.org or go directly to Amazon to purchase a copy.

“If I had a thousand pounds, China should have it.
If I had a thousand lives, China should have them.

No! Not China, but Christ.
Can we do too much for Him?
Can we do enough for such a precious Saviour?”
– Hudson Taylor, Missionary to China –