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HOME arrow PUBLISHING arrow Articles on China arrow China Briefing: How to (And How Not To) Get Involved in China Ministry

God is very much active in China; there are also tremendous spiritual needs in China. The situation is complex, and simplistic generalizations do not serve the cause of Christ well. We can almost say that, “Whatever you say about China, the opposite is also true.” There is religious freedom, and there is curtailment of religious freedom. There is a huge church in China; but there is a huge number of unreached Christians in China.

The Chinese people are not monolithic. Each Chinese person has a complex worldview: he/she may believe in evolution and materialism, but he/she may not be atheist. Many are still influenced by folk religions (beliefs in spirits and demons all over the universe); others, however, look down upon folk religions as superstitious. Some have heard of Christianity through Christmas celebrations and concerts; others have never seen a Bible, or met a Christian in their lives.

China’s Christian leaders, however, are some of the most vibrant servants of Christ on earth. They will be influencing the church in the west in the years to come. Are we ready to listen to them?

The following are some “talking points” or “thinking points,” to stimulate Christians to do further studying and praying. A short list of books and resources is given at the end. A list of terms used is also given.


To understand the situation of the church in China, we must begin with the religious policy of the Chinese Communist Party. Against this background of “official policy,” we will look at several branches of the church in China: the registered churches, the unregistered churches, the intellectuals in China who have found Christ, and overseas Christians serving in China as salt and light. There are many wonderful windows of opportunity today, for Christians to get involved. But there are also many “sensitive points,” where it would be unwise for Christians to be an offense to China. It is this ambiguity between opportunity and resistance, which we need to take the time to understand.


1. China’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was founded in July 1921, by an underground group of intellectuals. Its view on religion was deeply influenced by Karl Marx – that religion is the opium of the people. The CCP, after coming into power in China in 1949, set up a department called the “United Front Works Department” (UFW). The work of the UFW, is the work with, influence, and win over the non-Communist majority in Chinese society. (At present, there are more Christians than Communist Party members in China!)

2. In China, the CCP controls every department of the government (under the State Council). The UFW of the CCP runs a department in the Chinese government (under the State Council), called the Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB). The work of the RAB is to regulate and supervise religious activities in China.

3. Under the RAB are several agencies, one regulating the Catholics, one regulating the Buddhists, and one regulating the Taoists. The one regulating Protestants is called the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM for short).

4. The TSPM leaders also run something called the China Christian Council (CCC). The CCC actually runs churches, prints Bibles, and operates Bible colleges and seminaries. Together, the TSPM and the CCC controls the registered churches in China. Again, the leadership of these two organizations (liang hui) largely overlap.

5. The views of the CCP toward religion was largely influenced by the May Fourth Movement (1915-27), a period when Chinese intellectuals looked to the west for answers for China’s problems. John Dewey and Bertrand Russell (author of Why I Am Not a Christian) lectured widely in China in 1920-21. After 1949, the official religious policy of the UFW/RAB has fluctuated between a moderate line and a hard line.

6. The “hard line” was in force 1966-76; their purpose was to eliminate religion. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), both the registered churches and the un-registered churches were systematically persecuted.

Since 1976, the “moderate line” has been implemented; the purpose is to regulate religion. They recognize that religious people have a great contribution to make in society.

7. It must be remembered that China has a one-party system of government, but she is rapidly becoming (she is already) a capitalist economy. To give an example of how much capitalism has been ingrained in China: one of the largest luxury hotels in Beijing is co-owned by the People’s Liberation Army! Meanwhile, This the party/government is rapidly losing control of what people think, not only in ideology/religion, but losing control of where society as a whole is going.

8. Therefore, the present religious policy emphasizes the requirement that churches must register with the government. Those who do, are usually regulated by the TSPM/CCC, but there are exceptions.

9. The government distinguishes between historical “religions,” on the one hand, and “superstition” on the other. The latter has a lot less respect in the eyes of the government, and are sometimes viewed as subversive, and therefore to be banned. Christianity is a historic “religion” with a history of “imperialism,” in the eyes of the government.


1. The majority of Christians in China are unregistered. The proper way to refer to them would be the “unregistered churches,” although they often call themselves “house churches” (jia ting jiao hui). It is probably unwise, at this point in history, to call them the “underground church.”

2. Sometimes we have a picture of “house churches” as 10-20 Christians gathered in the living room of a small apartment for prayer and worship. This is true in many instances. However we must also understand that many “house churches” belong to one of ten very large movements (denominations?) with hundreds of thousands, or millions, in membership.

3. Many pastors are old and have suffered for Christ; many pastors, however, are young, in the 20s and 30s, single, absolutely dedicated, and giving all they have (including their health and marriage prospects) to pastor the people in China.

4. Some distinct features of the unregistered churches:

n They have suffered for Christ, and know that suffering is an integral part of being a Christian.

n They are familiar with demonization and deliverance, healing and miracles as the work of God the Holy Spirit. (This does not mean that they are “charismatics” in the western sense of the word.) (Paul Hiebbert’s concept of “the flaw of the excluded middle” is very helpful for western Christians.)

n Young pastors, both male and female, often belong to an elaborate chain of command extending over provinces.

n They are hungry and thirsty for systematic teaching of the Bible, plus how to construct sermons. They have very little use for the “how-to’s” which many American Christian organizations are exporting to China. They want the real meat of Bible teaching.

n Because of the lack of Bibles and Bible teaching (1949-76), heresies have arisen in China. One is called “Oriental Lightning” (tong fang shan dian). Its founder, a woman, claims to


n be the second coming of Christ. This cult is spreading its teaching in the United States. It should not be considered a wing/movement of the unregistered house churches in China, but as a heretic cult.

n Another heresy is the “Local Church Movement” led by Witness Lee (who lived in Southern California before he died); while not all followers of Witness Lee are heretics, Lee’s teachings are: he proclaims himself to be “the Lord,” or the second coming of Christ.

n The other major “movements” of the house churches, however, are largely evangelical, Bible believing, and orthodox in their doctrines.

5. The majority opinion of the “house churches” concerning registering with the government is:

(a) If they register, their religious freedom would be compromised;

(b) Christ, not the government, is the head of the church;

(c) the TSPM/CCC in the past (and at present) has served as informants of the house churches’ activities to the government (i.e., to the RAB, but also to the local Public Security Bureau - the PSB = the police).

Many strong voices in the house churches have called the TSPM “Judas”, one who had betrayed the Lord Jesus.

6. The fact of the matter is that TSPM churches have many godly pastors who preach the Bible. There are obviously also staff on the TSPM who are nothing but party members appointed to watch over the “Protestant religion” (ji du xin jiao). I have met both kinds of TSPM leaders. The latter show very very little knowledge of the Bible, and do not carry titles as pastors of churches or professors of seminaries. They are usually represented on a delegation of church leaders when they go on a trip to visit churches in the west.

7. Another fact is: some house church Christians often attend TSPM churches! They go to identify and fellowship with Christians of kindred spirits. The older people, who have gone through persecution, do not care any more where they worship; they are just grateful that they can worship God openly now. Some house churches’ pastors’ sons even attend TSPM seminaries. This is to show that the situation is extremely complex, despite the rhetoric we hear on both sides.

8. Therefore, there is much animosity on the verbal-war level, but a lot of exchange under the table (similar to China-Taiwan relations).

9. The Public Security Bureau (police) often does not understand the true meaning, and current wave, of religious policy in Beijing. Therefore, they often harass and torture Christians beyond what the current policy requires.

10. The right words to describe what Christians are experiencing now are: “systematic harassment and discrimination” rather than severe “persecution.” Christians are not being sent, in large numbers, to labor camps with long sentences. What often happens, is that House Church leaders are summoned by the PSB, interrogated, tortured (with electronic batons), and jailed for a short time. There are recent exceptions, when house church leaders are sentenced to longer terms in prison.

11. China’s religious policy changes from month to month, from year to year, from province to province. (See point #12 above.) One important reason why this is so, is there are internal political cycles in China. For example, in America during an election year, the debate heats up; and during a presidential election year, the debates heats up more. Same in China. For any particular year, the government may have a certain reason to clamp down on what they perceive to be subversive elements.

12. One such incident is the gongfu cult known as “Falungong.” A subversive movement would

certainly include one which criticizes the government. This is what the followers of Falungong did in 1999. The government cannot tolerate being embarrassed in the eyes of the people.


1. Given all of the above, however, there is much room for freedom of movement among China’s people. People are no longer confined to communes. They can move and work where they please. So there is much “public/civic space,” which did not exist before Mao died (1976). Particularly if someone does not work in the education or religion spheres of society (these are regulated by specific agencies =such as the RAB for religion), they are under the control of the government

department for their field. For example, a businessman may run a store, and have a fellowship group meet on the premises. This apparent contradiction is due to the fact that each government department regulates its own respective field (railroads, mining, forestry, radio and TV, religion, education, etc.).

2. Religion and education are the two most sensitive sectors in society as far as the party and the government are concerned, because they still claim monopoly to interpret what is best for the people, albeit very tenaciously. However, even with the religion (UFW/RAB) and education fields, there are very highly placed officials who understand that, as China enters the modern/postmodern world, she needs outside help. And Christians are good people to help. At least, government leaders must understand more about Christianity. One UFW official has attended a North American seminary in recent years.

3. English teachers are sent to China, with the full knowledge of the government, that these are Christians, and they come to China under the sponsorship of Christian-run, Christian-supported agencies. These teachers are watched carefully, but they are needed because they do a good job, they care about their students, they finish their contract, and their conduct is above reproach.

4. Beyond this, the religion and education regulators in China even appreciates Christianity as a moral system, as a world and life view. For example, Beijing University’s branch campus opened

up a Graduate Institute with a Religion Department in 1996! They know that Communist ideology is a dead end. The Communist Party does not want to give up their monopoly as dictators, but there are very few sincere Communists who believe in what Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao said, any more. They have not, however, given up on running a propaganda machine in society, though must revised and toned down. There are still “political study” sessions people should attend at work and at school.

5. It would not be surprising to learn that part of the motivation behind the opening of religion departments in universities (they are springing up in large numbers these days), are:

(a) to train RAB cadres to watch over religion, and

(b) to enable philosophy and religion departments to receive outside help, from Christians and even more so, from Buddhists!

6. Therefore, western Christians should appreciate the fact that there are many ways to serve China:

n serving the needs of the TSPM churches

n serving the needs of the unregistered churches

n doing business in China

n studying English, or learning Chinese, in China

n orphans and orphanages, and other forms of social service

n serving hospitals and medical services in China

n working with NGOs in China (non-government agencies), such as the Red Cross, YMCA, etc.

n many more avenues of approach

7. Wherever possible, western Christians should refrain from direct, open preaching of the gospel, unless invited by the Chinese. Relationship-building, and serving the church in China on their terms, would be appropriate, and often appreciated.



1. China’s professors, students and professionals are turning to Christ by the thousands. They are hungry and thirsty for truth. Many are converted through the discreet, quiet relationship-building

by their foreign English teachers. They meet for Bible study and fellowship; these groups are not part of the TSPM, nor are they house churches.

2. There is also a very small group of intellectuals, nicknamed “Cultural Christians,” who are translating Christian (unfortunately mostly non-evangelical) theology books, by the dozens, into Chinese; these books are published by the respected academic presses in China. This is a most intriguing and exciting phenomenon: that non-Christians are promoting Christianity in China!

3. There are many intellectuals in our universities, hospitals and major employers right here at our doorstep. What an opportunity reach this “most strategic mission field in the world, bar none!” (Words of David Aikman, former Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine)

4. House churches and these “intellectuals” belong to very, very different strata in society. They seldom talk to each other. It is like the Upper East Side and Harlem in New York City; they are close by, yet far away. That is why China’s intellectuals (the word “intellectual,” zhi shi fen zi, means anyone with a high school diploma) is such a strategic mission field.


1. In going into China, Christians (Americans, Asians, Asian Americans, Africans,etc.) must be careful not to jeopardize the safety of Christians in China. For example, if one passes out tracts, it will draw the local PSB’s attention to the house churches, even though the tourist does not even know the existence of house churches in that city/village. Sometimes we are too eager to get our handy dirty to do evangelism, without adequate concern for the safety of the Christians in China.

2. American Christians must refrain from doing unwise things, such as taking a truck load of tracts, and dumping them on the street. Poor house church Christians; they get to be interrogated by the PSB during the next few days, you can be sure!

3. Another unwise thing which one American pastor did, was to sing and pray loudly in his apartment in China, and to take videos of the house church Christians. The local pastor told him to be quiet, but he said that he had been in China for 15 years, and he knew what he was doing.

The local pastor fasted and prayed for 2-3 days, and while the American pastor was taking a shower, the local pastor went in and stole the videotape he had taken of Christians. Within minutes after that, the PSB arrived in the apartment! Thus, we cannot be too careful.

4. However, there are many meaningful ways in which Christians from outside China can demonstrate that they want to be a blessing to China. One-on-one dialogue, exchange, diplomacy based on mutual respect and dignity is welcome, appreciated, and needed. For example, 20% of US Congressmen have visited China during the first half of 1997 before the handover of Hong Kong.

5. China appreciates friends. The government makes a very strong distinction between people who like them and people who dislike them. They no longer care whether you believe in Christianity, capitalism, communism, Islam, Satan worship, or the Playboy philosophy. For example, the Vatican is such a thorn in China’s flesh because she threatens China’s sovereignty (the Vatican claims the loyalty of China’s Catholic believers.) Therefore Christians must be careful to present ourselves – and mean it sincerely in our hearts, not just as a tactic -- as friends who want to be a blessing to China.


1. A group of Christians began a campaign in the summer of 1997. We wrote a white paper calling for one-on-one diplomacy, and strongly opposed the Religious Right. The Religious Right, led by the Family Research Council and others, was opposing the US Congress granting Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) trade status to China, based on the reason that China was oppressing believers.

Our campaign was anti- the anti-MFN’ers. We were not promoters of American trade with China. Our reasoning was: when China sees American Christians opposing MFN based on religious freedom reasons, she will conclude that the house churches in China have “spies – allies” in America, in the person of evangelical Christians!

The last thing we want to do, is to paint ourselves as China’s enemy, because the door to friendship is already opened so wide! (ChinaSource is continuing this ministry of promoting healthy, meaningful dialogue, and in-depth understanding.)

2. Sometimes Christian agencies involved in China work unwisely listen to partially true, or false reports, and embark on campaigns such as the one against the Most Favored Nation status without full knowledge as to how this impacts the church in China.

(Issues such as how the U.S. should protect military, space and computer secrets, and how the U.S. should guard campaign contributions from foreigners, are beyond the scope of this article. Obviously, wisdom is needed in governing any nation.)


1. There are American Christians who are writing books portraying China s the Dragon in the Book of Revelation. This fuels the war of words already going on between China and the USA, and it can lead to war! It is no joke.

One China ministry, headed by a woman evangelist who has released an autobiographical movie, claims in their newsletters that the “Red Guards” are persecuting the church. The Red Guards, of courses, are the youth who caused havoc in China in the late 1960s and 1970s! They do not exist today. Such publicity hurts the credibility of all China ministries.

2. China has already published several books directed against America, with titles such as: China Can Say No; China Can Still Say No; (China will become) No. 1 in 2030 (AD); Behind the (America’s) Demonization of China.

It is difficult for us to understand that, while the Chinese people are mesmerized by the material prosperity that the American lifestyle can bring to China, they are also vehemently opposed to what they perceive to be America’s prejudice and “demonization” of China. This is a serious, sincere viewpoint which many American find it difficult to understand or accept. The Chinese have not yet forgiven the bombing of the Belgrade Embassy, years after the fact.

3. Of course we know that the Enemy the Devil is working hard all over the world, no less actively in America as it is in China. However our view toward China should be biblical Christian ones, not necessarily American ones.

4. Meanwhile, the other extreme exhibited by American Christians, is to go to China as friends, and give China an excessive opportunity to promote their own public relations (propaganda)

agenda. This also hurts the house churches in China. For example, the name of a globe-trotting evangelist has appeared in advertisements in prominent evangelical American magazines, saying that “we print Bibles LEGALLY in China, and put it in the hands of house churches.” (The word “legally” was printed in red, capital letters.) With good intentions, unwittingly the statement casts all other evangelical ministries distributing Bibles in China in a negative light: i.e., all of them are ILLEGAL. This is the message which the Chinese government wants to disseminate. It is more than what most Christians should want to do.

5. When given the opportunity, Christian leaders visiting China can and should politely raise questions about (a) China's religious policy and (b) how it is implemented; Christians should do this without any publicity. The press -- cameras, etc. -- actually hurts all the relationship building I have been advocating. Quiet relationship building, such as what Al Gore and many Christians have done, is what is needed for the day. “Without publicity” also means that, when Christians return from China, they should not unwisely make public statements about what is happening in China.



1. China needs salt and light, Christians living out the Christian faith. Therefore Christians inside China need more “civic space” to do this. Christians from outside China desire more opportunity to: sponsor orphans, teach English, upgrade hospitals, engage in business, invest in factories, assist house church as well as TSPM Christians when requested to do so (on their terms !), etc. -- all in a spirit of blessing China.

2. China will change from the inside, from the bottom. She is already changing rapidly. Our prayer and goal should not be the collapse of the Communist Party. Suppose Christians in the third world pray for the overthrow of the U.S. government; what would we think? We should not pray for the collapse of the Communist government, because... if she collapses tomorrow, who will govern, feed, educate, clothe 1.3 billion people in decency and order? We should pray for a gradual increase of the size of the “public square” (civic space) for Christians inside and outside China. This is the true, and a long-term, goal.

Salt and light: whatever promotes that, without hurting the safety of the majority of Christians -- that is the China policy American Christians should adopt. Christians who are leading mission agencies with work in China need to re-assess their assumptions, values, and long term goals.

3. There are four helpful questions western Christians should keep in mind, when giving to, getting involved with, signing up for China ministries:

1. Does this ministry appreciate, respect and dialogue with other China ministries, even those with whom this China ministry disagrees, as far as strategy and approach are concerned? Does this ministry truly function as a partner in the field of China ministries?

2. Does this ministry take the safety and the long-term welfare of the Church in China as a serious priority? Or does fund-raising and publicity play a more important role, e.g. sensational reports?

3. Does this ministry adequate consult with overseas Chinese churches and agencies before, and after it launches specific projects in China?

4. Does this ministry understand China to be the enemy of Christ? The enemy of the west? Or simply as a mission field in which many have not know Christ; and a field in which the church is growing in both numbers and maturity? In other words, does this ministry respect China as a nation, and the church in China as a church?



1. One very important partner, for the western church to remember in China work, is the overseas Chinese church. Sometimes we have a blind spot in our vision: we think we are the only ones doing something for God in China. Nothing can be further from the truth! God is already working in China through the church in China. And the largest outside partner who is working hand-in-hand with the church in China, is the overseas Chinese church, including the church in Taiwan and Hong Kong. They are deeply involved on many levels in serving God’s cause in China.

2. Western Christian agencies have much to learn from these overseas Chinese churches and agencies. We often do not realize the amount of experience and exposure which they already have. We need to humble ourselves, and refrain from starting new ministries unless we have consulted with a number of respected overseas Chinese agencies. We can save ourselves from failure and a lot of headache. Many overseas Chinese agencies are willing to help and give advice; many overseas Chinese have “bailed out” their western brothers and sisters when the latter find themselves in an untenable situation in China. We need each other. Let us work together, not unilaterally!


1. Do you want to invest your life, over the long term, to serve God’s cause in China? Here is a 10-year-plan for anyone who is very serious.

n Start befriending mainland Chinese in your town, school, hospital, or any major employer in North America. Join a group which is reaching out to them.

n Start making plans to learn the Chinese language (Mandarin), at a major American university, or through a one- or two-year study program in Asia.

n Take a master’s degree in modern Chinese history and culture.

n Get yourself grounded in the Bible. Preferably, get a two-year or three-year training program from a seminary which believes in the inerrancy of the Bible.

n Go to China, or serve among the Chinese, for 3 years.

n (The above may be taken in different sequence/order.) Continue to understand what your mission agency is doing, and what other mission agencies are doing. China is changing fast, so you may have two different periods (terms) of service in China.

n At the end of 6-8 years, you will be ready to serve in a meaningful way in “China service.” Perhaps a doctoral program may be appropriate, either in Chinese history, or in the theology of mission. If you enroll in a doctoral program in missions, it is important that your professors believe in the inerrancy of the Bible.

100 years ago, Timothy Richard, the celebrated, colorful Welsh Baptist missionary in China, called upon the church in the west to send “missionary ambassadors” to be stationed in each of China’s provinces. These ambassadors are to understand China, befriend Chinese government and intellectual leaders, and interpret China to the west (and the west to China!). The western evangelical church desperately needs these ambassadors today. There is a tremendous bottleneck of information between the Chinese and English languages. One reason why the church in the west does not understand the church in China adequately, is because much of the material is in the Chinese language. In order for the bottleneck to be broken, dozens (perhaps 200) western Christians need to embark on this 10-year journey of missionary statesmanship. The author is willing to offer appropriate guidance.

2. This plan sounds ambitious. It may be, but by God’s grace, missionaries in bygone years have gone down a similar path, in their effort to reach China, India or Africa. We have grown accustomed to pragmatic approaches and quick-fix solutions. This hurts our effectiveness to be God’s ambassadors in China.

Learn the language – this is a key challenge for young, emerging Christian leaders who will take the leadership of the western church’s mission in the 2010s and 2020s.

Samuel Ling is president of China Horizon (, a ministry of apologetics in the Chinese church. He is a theologian and a trends-watcher for the overseas Chinese church. He also was the founder of ChinaSource, an information center and catalyst for partnership in China ministries now directed by Dr. Brent Fulton.































The author’s website, containing over 20 articles for downloading: Click “Publications’ for articles, e.g. “The Bombing of the Belgrade Embassy.”

The Song of a Chinese Sparrow. Short video; true story of how one Chinese found Christ as a result of a variety of China ministry efforts. Effective for mission conferences or local church / fellowship meetings. Order from: ChinaSource, 501 E. College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187.

List of books, tapes and videos: ChinaSource, 501 E. College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187.

Chinese Intellectuals and the Gospel. Edited by Stacey Bieler and Samuel Ling. The historical, cultural and spiritual background of mainland China’s students and scholars (PRCs for short – stands for People’s Republic of China), and proven strategies to reach and disciple them. 8 authors, 14 essays, a “must”. Released by: China Horizon, 206 E. Las Tunas Dr., Ste. 2, San Gabriel, CA 91776, order from Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Asia’s Religions: Christianity’s Momentous Encounter with Paganism. By Lit-Sen Chang, who found Christ after a brilliant career promoting Confucianism. Book summarizes and critiques Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism and Islam. Released by China Horizon, distributed by Presbyterian and Reformed; order from: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

China Insight, and Global Chinese Ministries. Two very important newsletters published by: OMF International, 10 W. Dry Creek Circle, Littleton, CO 80120-4413. OMF also has a list of books and publications available. Recommended: Anthony Lambert, The Resurrection of the Chinese Church, the most succinct summary of what God is doing in China in the past 20years.

Chinese-language books, booklets, Bibles, etc. for use in mainland Chinese ministries: Ambassadors For Christ, (MC Department,) P.O. Box 0280, Paradise, PA 17562. 717-687-8564. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

One of the largest Chinese-language Christian bookstores on the internet: Alleluia Books, 603 N. New Ave #A-C, Monterey Park, CA 91755. Fax 626 571 6769, Ordering hotline: 800 795 1985.

The “Chinese” Way of Doing Things, by Samuel Ling. Gives the historical, cultural and spiritual background of the overseas Chinese church in North America – the hidden partner in China ministries at our doorstep! Includes insights into the Chinese worldview, as experienced by bi-cultural Chinese. Released by China Horizon; distributed by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

In Search of Modern China, by Jonathan Spence. The best one-volume secular history of modern China since 1400. Published shortly after the summer of Tiananmen Square, 1989. Contains many literary quotes as examples of the Chinese worldview.


PRC. The official name of China: People’s Republic of China; also a favored term to refer to China’s intellectuals (scholars and students), especially those studying in the west. These are called “the most strategic mission field in the world, bar none,” by David Aikman, former Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine.

Worldview. How a person perceives the world; includes beliefs in what is truth; is there a God; how do I gain knowledge, etc.

Atheism. The belief that God does not exist.

Materialism. The belief that matter is all; there is no soul, spirit, or spiritual realm.

Evolution. Matter evolved; usually a belief which rejects creation.

Folk religion. Belief in many demons and spirits in the world which control human lives.

CCP. Chinese Communist Party, founded in 1921; came to power in China in 1949.

Opiate. Religion is the opium of the people; view of religion by Marx and Lenin.

May Fourth Movement. 1915-1927. A period during which China’s intellectuals looked to the west for answers to China’s problems. Against this background, Communism was introduced to China’s intellectuals.

John Dewey. A pragmatic philosopher, whose ideas were very influential, especially when he toured China 1920-21.

Bertrand Russell. Philosopher who wrote Why I Am Not a Christian. Also toured China around 1920.

UFW. United Front Works Department of the Chinese Communist Party. Their work is to win over and influence the non-Communist majority in Chinese society.

State Council. China’s government apparatus.

RAB. Religious Affairs Bureau. Under the State Council; supervised by the UFW of the CCP.

PSB. Public Security Bureau. The police in China.

Cultural Revolution. Effort by Mao to brainwash the entire population of China to his extreme views, 1966-76.

Red Guards. Youth and student military who fought each other, and many other sectors of society, during the Cultural Revolution. Disbanded after the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Hard line. To eliminate religion; this line was adopted, 1966-76.

Moderate line. To tolerate but strictly regulate religion.

TSPM. Three Self Patriotic Movement.

CCC. China Christian Council.

Liang hui. The “two organizations,” referring to the TSPM and the CCC.

Registered churches. They have registered with the government. Most are under the TSPM/CCC.

House churches / unregistered churches.

Superstition. Folk religions, considered subversive, as distinct from “religions” to be regulated.

Imperialism. Aggression against China by western nations, Japan and Russia in the 19th and 20th century. Christianity has been, and is, considered to be a tool of western imperialism.

Demonization. China feels that America is portraying China as a demon. Indeed, some evangelical books are portraying China as the dragon of the Book of Revelation. This is part of a war of words, which if unchecked, can lead to real war.

Intellectuals. Anyone with some postsecondary education, or who has graduated from high school.

Cultural Christians. Intellectuals in China who have chosen to promote Christian theology as a desirable system of thought for China.

Witness Lee. Self-proclaimed successor to Watchman Nee, leader of the Local Church Movement. Proclaims himself to be “the Lord” i.e., the second coming of Christ.

Oriental Lightning. “Tong fang shan dian.” A heretic cult; woman-founder claims that she is the second coming of Christ. Cult is spreading in the United States.

Falungong. Gongfu cult banned by China in 1999.

NGO’s. Non-government agencies.

MFN. Most Favored Nation status. Normal status which the US grants to over 150 nations.

Overseas Chinese. Chinese living in Asia, North America and elsewhere outside mainland China.

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