‘China is thriving,’ says Freddie Sun of the nation’s faithful. He estimates there are 150 million Protestants and Catholics. ‘Every day, 30,000 people believe in Jesus – even Communist Party
members. It’s the greatest revival in church history.’ By all accounts, the Holy Spirit is moving in unprecedented ways in the world’s most populous nation. But not everyone agrees that this move comes in the face of government opposition. In fact, American missionary Dennis Balcombe, who moved to Hong Kong in the 1960s, says the situation for Christians in mainland China is more nuanced than many observers describe it. ‘It’s not like there isn’t persecution, but it’s isolated.’ He sees a new openness toward the church on the part of many government officials, who recognize that Christians have played a major role in China’s economic rise.
‘I’m very optimistic about what I see in China,’ Balcombe says. He has visited modern coastal cities with churches numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and even rural congregations in which thousands gather to worship throughout the week. He describes one church that even maintains a 24-hour prayer centre with volunteers from 400 congregations and has a seminary of 500 students. While he can’t imagine democratic government coming to China soon, he says his goal isn’t to change government policies, but to lead as many people to Christ as possible.
After recent visits to the mainland, he says he’s been ‘amazed’ by the changes taking place across the country and the explosive growth of the church. In particular, he’s encouraged to see
spiritual revival spreading to the government-approved Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches as well. He recently accepted an invitation from a TSPM pastor to preach in his church. ‘I saw hungry people, people getting healed, and heard of stories of revival. It’s like the book of Acts. Living here we have a completely different perspective [than Westerners have].’
James Carpenter, an American missionary who oversees a house church in Shanghai, has noticed that as churches grow beyond the small-group size, they also seek to be more grounded in biblical doctrine, which opens a door to opportunities for deeper ministry. God continues to bring hope to a people once oppressed. ‘It is revival… In 1949 the communists took over,’ Dorothy Sun says. Christians were ‘Going through all kinds of persecution… Like the Bible says, when a kernel [of wheat] dies, later you will see a harvest.’ Dorothy Sun stresses that revival can only come to the U.S. if people turn back to God: ‘If you think you are strong and rich, there will be no miracles.’
Source: Ken Walker in Charisma News
Bible Study: Ephesians 1:1-4
PRAISE God for the great revival going on in China, for so many converts and for greater openness of government offcials.