News of China is often dismal. Persecution of Uighurs, censorship, and threats to Taiwan are a few examples. But there’s good news too—and it’s about the Good News! God is growing His church there enormously.
Hannah Nation is a witness. She studies the Chinese church with China Partnership and the Center for House Church Theology. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, she says, there were fewer than one million Christians in China in 1970. Today, there are likely between 70 and 80 million.
In China, we “see the next chapter of church history being written,” Nation says.
Christianity has had a complex history in China. Western missionaries brought the gospel, but also unwelcome ties to colonialism and imperialist powers. (For context, consider reading the book Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz. This Newbery Honor-winning book tells of the author’s childhood experience in China, as the daughter of Christian missionaries in the mid 1920s.) Later, the 1949 Communist rise to power added regulations and upheaval. The government wanted churches to pledge their allegiance to the state. While some Christians complied, others refused. Around this time, the house church movement began. Today, these networks of unregistered churches still exist alongside the official state church.
In 2018, China’s Communist Party established more regulations. The government wants all religion under its authority. Some churches, like Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, have been violently harassed in the last several years. Arrests are not uncommon. But rather than fight their oppressors, Chinese Christians seek to respond with repentance for their own sins and with kindness. They evangelize—not just their neighbors but also their captors and others in prison. An arrest is an opportunity to love those hurting them and to proclaim Christ to all.
Wang Yi is Early Rain’s pastor. He has been imprisoned since 2018. This didn’t come as a surprise. Twelve days before Wang and his wife Jiang Rong were arrested, they wrote an annual letter to their congregation. Wang had plans. “If he is imprisoned, he will entrust everything to the Lord and start his personal prison ministry. If he is free, he will be even bolder in preaching . . .”
There is much to learn from Chinese Christians, Nation says. Despite facing persecution, they love China. “They see the gospel as the best gift they can give,” Nation says. Chinese Christians aren’t “super Christians.” They’re sinners dealing with often mundane, everyday problems. But their trust in God means they are hopeful, not discouraged or defeated.
This suffering, marginalized church without political power or privileges is one of the fastest growing in the world. “If we’re discouraged about the church [at home], we need to look at what God is doing globally,” Nation says—especially in China.
Why? God is spreading His kingdom through the whole world, just as He said He would. This news has eternal consequences.
Pray for Chinese Christians seeking to serve God while facing persecution. Pray for Christians in your country as well.