NPR on the Chinese Christian Boom

It shouldn’t come as news to any TGC Blog readers that the gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading in China. Even as Christianity has lost ground in the West during the last century, believers in China have become emboldened to share their faith and testify to the forgiveness of sins that comes from trusting in Jesus. I was blessed to study the dramatic revival of Christianity in China during the early 20th century as I researched A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir. Missionary catalysts such as Jonathan Goforth, Lottie Moon, and Marie Monsen served God with abandon as they sacrificed health and well-being to see Chinese turn to Jesus.

It’s encouraging, then, that National Public Radio observes the “rising tide of Christianity” in China.

No one knows exactly how many Christians there are among China’s population of 1.3 billion. There are an estimated 21 million members of the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic movement, but nobody knows how many Protestants worship in unregistered house churches.

Some recent surveys have calculated there could be as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants. That would mean that China has more Christians than Communist Party members, which now number 75 million.

The story, broadcast late last month, has some problems, as Brad Greenberg documented. It would be nice to see journalists cover the gospel’s appeal without resorting to economic explanations. Still, it’s great to hear from Christians on the ground in places like Wenzhou, dubbed “China’s Jerusalem,” with more than 1,000 churches. About 12 percent of the city’s population professes Christ. We learn from businessman Zheng Shengtao, who is working out a doctrine of vocation and stewardship with assets valued at more than $400 million, according to Forbes.

We have to be the salt of the earth. We don’t bribe officials to make money or make fake products or harm the customers’ interests or evade tax. We don’t think the wealth belongs to us. We’re just like bank clerks. It’s God who gives you the career and the wealth and asks you to manage them.

NPR reporter Louisa Lim, based out of Shanghai, wisely notes the government’s varied response to the Christian awakening. Some Christians claim no government interference and believe church membership is patriotic. Others find the government intrusive and have started house churches where pastors still face harassment. China is a large and diverse land where local governments have uneven ability and willingness to enforce laws against proselytizing. In fact, Lim visited one rural town where a young open-air evangelist told a crowd to find the one sure hope in Jesus.

In China, a lot of so-called atheists treat money as their God. But only in God’s truth can you find real freedom.

He preaches a time-tested message that’s as true today in the Far East and United States as it was in Jesus’ day.