Here is link to an interesting article addressing the global realities of an expanding Christian faith worldwide. The article deals with these issues as they are being addressed in the United Methodist Church, which is my home denomination.
My giving myself to the Lord must be an initial fundamental act. Then day by day I must go on giving to him, not finding fault with his use of me, but accepting with praise even what the flesh finds hard. . . . . I am the Lord’s now and no longer reckon myself to be my own, but acknowledge in everything his ownership and authority. That is the attitude God delights in, and to maintain it is true consecration. I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher; I consecrate myself to God to do his will where I am, be it in school, office, or kitchen, wherever he may, in his wisdom, send me. Whatever he ordains for me is sure to be the very best, for nothing but good can come to those who are wholly his. . . .
(from The Normal Christian Life)
- Rethinking the Five-Fold Ministry (frankviola.wordpress.com)
There can be little doubt that we are living in a very important era in the long panorama of earth’s history. Change is taking place at a pace never before imagined, must less witnessed. I firmly believe these changes are a part of God’s plan for the world and, although I don’t know all the ins and outs of that plan, I do know several things:
- Change is real and happening rapidly.
- Part of God’s plan for this age has to do with deepening our understanding and application of spiritual laws and principles, especially as related to mental laws.
- Unity within the Body of Christ is essential if the next phase of Kingdom Manifestation is to occur. We can only see through a glass darkly, but we can, on faith, understand that God’s establishment of the kingdom is progressive. It is a dynamic process. I have the strong sense, perhaps a revelation if you will, that this issue of unity is key at this time.
- Unity is critical because Satan’s primary weapon has been division within the Body of Christ. “Divide and conquer” has been his strategy and, to a large extent, it has worked and continues to work. Satan uses the saints to “accuse” one another and by doing so, weakens our ability to not only withstand his intrigue, but also, to further advance the kingdom.
- Another aspect of this age will be the erosion of the forms of “church” as we know it and in its place, the establishment of new and more effective structures of faith. This will require much openness and flexibility from within the Church universal, and do not be surprised when you see that the majority of the resistance will come from within the Body.
- The Church is exploding in Asia and Africa. There are many examples of miracles, works, and powers happening in these places and they are genuine. They are not happening so much here because of our rigidity and lack of unity. The West will no longer be the center of the Christian faith and we need to get our minds around that.
- I firmly believe in the old axiom which states “the brighter the light the deeper the shadows,” and as the Master bombards our world with an ever-increasing amount of light, the enemy will be busier than ever. He cannot defeat us, and he cannot even overpower us except by the use of the primary weapon left at his disposal – deception. This age we live in will be witness to an increasing amount of spiritual darkness and demonic activity. This does not mean that more people will be possessed and have heads that twirl around like on a swivel – but more than likely, it will be manifested as an increased amount of demonic oppression resulting in all sorts of negativity. (See section below on Witchcraft and Demonic Oppression).
- Related to the increase in spiritual darkness is the fact that the “power of God” will be increasingly demonstrated through what has traditionally been called “signs and wonders.” This has little to do with charismatic foolishness such as holy drooling and barking like dogs. Instead, it will be akin to what is already being seen in the churches in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. The miraculous is becoming commonplace in these areas as the church is growing at a rapid pace. God’s supernatural power is being demonstrated and those Christian that cannot acknowledge the supernatural and apply it in their lives will be left behind. This may seem harsh, but it is simply in recognition of what God is doing and how he is currently moving in the world. Just as Paul described to the Corinthian church during his time, God is speaking us today so that we can see that his ways and wisdom are far different from ours.
And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (I Cor. 2:4-5)
As these changes take place we will begin to see some areas where God will be moving rapidly and, in these cases, there will inevitably be some stragglers who get left behind. In other areas, God will move more slowly and with great deliberation. In either case, the important thing to grasp is that God is moving and he is doing a new thing. Our task is to develop our sensitivity to what he is doing, pray for wisdom as to what our role and calling might be in his work, and then get busy doing it.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the supernatural realm is where the real action is in these days. As a race, especially those of us in the West, we have become so sophisticated that we discount the supernatural without adequate investigation and, by doing so, fall into the enemy’s trap. We must pay closer attention to the supernatural realm because we are involved in a supernatural battle, whether we understand it or accept it.
It is interesting to note that the fastest growing churches in the world are those of the charismatic/Pentecostal traditions. This is especially true in Asia and Africa, but really, it is a phenomenon that can be seen all over the world. By the same token, it is those denominations that adhere most closely with the use of reason, logic, science, and the legacy of the Enlightenment that are withering on the vine. This is not how I would have predicted things to have worked out and it surely is not how I would have wished it would have worked out. Quite frankly, some of the craziness and downright foolishness seen in the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches is an abomination in my sight. And I suspect that much of the really fringe elements of these movements will disappear as time progresses.
However, I think the core elements of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement will continue to prosper because God says he must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. And certainly, now more than ever, the supernatural side of things must be taken into account. I am uncertain as to exactly how this will manifest itself here in the West, however. One thing is certain, the church in the West will need more manifestations of God’s power in these rapidly changing times. Yet this revealing of God’s strength must be presented in a manner that is less chaotic and “sensational” than in the past. The days of flopping about, running around the sanctuary, and drooling have passed. It is a time for the world to see God’s power and presence in all its glory, not in patently bizarre human translations of it that greatly miss the mark.
As the future unfolds, one of the most needed of the spiritual gifts will be that of discernment. Pastors, teachers, elders, and others in positions of spiritual authority will need to be deeply educated in the criteria of discernment, or at least in recognizing those who have this gift, even in its embryonic forms. Anytime there is a period of increased Holy Spirit activity, and this is without a doubt one of those times, the potential for the Great Deceiver to lead many astray is great. We live in an age that is ripe for deception. Trained, gifted discerners are in critical need. James Goll speaks directly to this issue:
Lack of discernment and an unscriptural emphasis on experience beyond the confines of Scripture are major stumbling blocks for the majority of Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians who are open to the supernatural and revelatory realms of God…..When it comes to gifts of miraculous powers and prophecy, we need mature elders in every church who are equipped with the gift of discernment to watch over the flock. We also need apostolic voices who will release guidelines for discernment in the years to come, as the sense of God’s Presence and power increases throughout the world – growing alongside the “tares” of this world, evidenced in soulishly and demonically induced counterfeit expressions of power. Right now, we are sadly equipped with too few apostolic leaders who are respected enough to speak the truth in love about these issues of discernment and correction. And we have too few humble church leaders who are open to correction from apostolic leaders, regardless of their denominational preferences, networks, or alliances.
Many within the Mainline denominations and Evangelical churches have such a historically “negative charge” with the Charismatic movement that they suspect anything of Spirit-filled nature as being either doctrinally lacking or worse, a product of Satan. This mind-set is not entirely their fault as there has been such excess and, yes, plain wanton foolishness in more than a few Charismatic and Pentecostal circles. Yet at the same time, it is not wise to completely slam the door shut.
At one end of the spectrum you have those sincere followers of the Master who are so turned off by what they see as bizarre extremism that they slam the door shut of Charismatic experience. In a sense, these folks use too much discernment in the sense that anything even remotely resembling “Spirit-filled” experience is discounted out of hand. At the other end of the spectrum you have the fringe elements of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Christianity that fall into all sorts of error, both doctrinal and experiential, and wind up engaging in practices that seem too strange to be true. At this extreme, too little discernment is practiced and, in some cases, none at all.
Obviously, what is needed is a more balanced approach, grounded in Scripture but, at the same time, not so tightly bound as to quench the Spirit. The real challenge for the church at this point is the development of this much-needed criteria and, after that, widespread training in its fundamental applications.
Although this particular age is filled with challenges to the Body of Christ, it is at the same time an era of golden opportunity. Despite the negative blathering of naysayers and the sometimes harsh judgments launched by critics of the church, the fact is, these can be times of positive transformation in the Body of Christ. What is needed is consecrated, committed Christians who are creative in approach, flexible in attitude, and open-minded enough to realize that the status quo in a rut we can no longer afford to wallow in. As someone much wiser than me once said:
A rut is nothing more than a grave with the ends kicked out.
Think about it.
© L.D. Turner 2010/All Rights Reserved
When we discover that our hearts are broken and contrite, we come to the Lord with an earnest desire to repent of our sinfulness. It’s out of this repentant heart that we find redemption in Christ. We are redeemed because of his sacrificial love on our behalf expressed in his death on the cross and his resurrection to eternal life. Because of his everlasting redemption, we are reconciled – brought into right relationship with God through Jesus Christ – and that reconciliation allows us to call God our heavenly Father. As new creatures in Christ, we walk through this life in the power of the Spirit as regenerate people, learning, growing, and becoming what he intends for us.
A healed heart becomes a renewed heart as we walk from repentance to redemption to reconciliation to regeneration. Our hearts are healed at the point of conversion, and they become healthy as we walk through life as Christian disciples.
Stephen A. Macchia
(from Becoming a Healthy Disciple)
As many of you know, we at LifeBrook have a special place in our heart and ministry for the Chinese people in general and the Chinese Church in particular. From a personal standpoint, I have always felt a strong calling on my life to serve the Master through being of assistance to the brothers and sisters in China in whatever way I can. It was this calling that led me to enter the mission field in Mainland China and, although I planned to stay for one year, ended up staying there for over five years.
As I have stated on numerous times and through many venues, these were by far the most spiritually and professionally rewarding years of my life. At LifeBrook we are continuing our work in China through our writing, training, and publishing programs, but we are also active in another way – a way in which everyone with a heart for the Chinese Church can help.
And it won’t cost you a cent.
We maintain active prayers for China and we encourage you to remember the Chinese Church in your prayers. The church in China is the fastest growing segment of the Body of Christ in the world and, as this new century unfolds, it will become an increasingly vital member of the worldwide Christian community.
However, the Chinese Church continues to suffer uneven religious freedoms and, although conditions are improved somewhat over past years, pockets and incidents of persecution still exist. Please pray for those who endure this persecution and especially pray for their families.
The Holy Spirit has put it in my heart to ask for your prayers not only for those who are currently incarcerated in China for their beliefs, but especially for their children. These kids are living in homes without one or both of their parents and they, too, are suffering greatly for the cause of the gospel. These children need physical and financial support and there are organizations like Voice of the Martyrs and others who are doing all they can to provide much-needed support. Here at LifeBrook, our calling is to seek prayer support for these kids and it is in service to that calling that I ask you to pray for the children of incarcerated Christians in China. Yes, pray for those who are in prisons, jails, detention centers, and re-education camps. They need your prayers mightily. But remember to pray for the families, and especially for the children.
In His Light,
L.D. “Mick” Turner
Scripture is filled with great teaching stories. Both the Old and New Testaments contain golden nuggets of wisdom, often hidden in the form of parables and dramatic tales of one kind or another. The problem is we often gloss over these stories because we have read or heard them many times. This sense of familiarity is unfortunate and leads us to either ignore or entirely miss vital truths which, if applied to our daily living, could make us much better people.
Consider the familiar story of the Prodigal Son as told by Christ in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. We are so familiar with this tale of a wasted life saved through love and redemption than we often loose the impact that it should have on our lives. Especially if we are wastrels and rogues like the wandering Prodigal. I had the good fortune to have this timeless story brought to new life for me when I was serving as an English teacher in China.
I often taught English writing classes to university students, mostly students majoring in English Language. I sometimes began the semester by handing out a paraphrase of the Prodigal’s story because it was easy to read and contained three central characters. The students were asked to write several paragraphs expressing their thoughts on the younger son, the elder brother, and the father.
The results were often startling. Sometimes students criticized the younger son for his irresponsibility and lack of filial piety, certainly a strong value in a culture so influenced by Confucianism. Others admired him and extolled his adventurous spirit and independence. These were usually students who were strongly impacted by the New China and its market economy and increasing focus on material acquisition. Opinions also varied on the elder son, ranging from a “loyal and faithful son” to a “stick in the mud traditionalist”. But it was the father who tended to mystify them most. How could a father be so tolerant? So forgiving? So loving and compassionate?
At times students were able to ascertain that this was a story about something other than a human father, although I never discussed this in class in a formal way. To do so would be in violation of my contract and Chinese laws regarding foreigners and religious activities. But the student responses helped me as a Christian. They helped me view this story with “fresh eyes” or as Chinese Christians would say, ” Xin qi de mu guang”. The student writings pushed me to see things from different perspectives, different angles. They helped me to see more clearly.
What I saw more clearly was the outstanding, awesome, and all-encompassing love of the Christian God. Of course I had often heard this concept expressed in numerous sermons and read of it in countless books. But while in China, where I was more dependent upon the Spirit for my spiritual food, this reality of God’s loving grace bored into my heart more and more deeply. I came to understand at a deeper level that I was in fact accepted. Accepted in my weakness because this is where the strength of Christ is seen. Accepted in my brokenness because this is where the healing of Christ is seen. Accepted in my faithlessness because this is where the fidelity of Christ is seen. Accepted in my wandering in the wilderness because this is where Christ’s true and stable mansions are eventually discovered.
Remarkable isn’t it – God accepts our response to his offer in spite of our conflicted hearts and spirits. In fact, if one is to believe what Christ teaches in the parable of the Prodigal, then he in accepts our desperation just as much as he accepts our repentance. Again, this points to the awesome nature of God’s love.
The following passage is a directly quoted from one my student’s compositions, in this case from a young woman of twenty-one who had remarkable insight into the character of the prodigal son’s father:
What impressed me most was the father in the story. I was most amazed at his love for his two sons, especially the younger one. You see, when the boy asked for his share of the family fortune, the father gave it to him willingly. But it was not just money that he gave him. If you think about it, the father gave the wayward son a part of himself. The money was just the outer trappings. The father had worked hard for many years and put himself into earning this money. So when he gave the money to the young boy, he gave him his life as well. But the young man was foolish and immature. He wasted his father’s money and became bankrupt. But even more, he wasted his father’s most precious gift, that gift of himself. No wonder he ended up starving and despondent. If I were in that situation I, too, would have a deep longing to return home to the embrace of my loving father. And what is most wonderful in this story is that the father accepted him and loved him, no questions asked. I would give the world to know a father like that.
Many people would like to believe, truly believe, in the overwhelming love offered by God in the Christian gospel. Yet many refuse to accept God’s gracious offer because they feel they are too unworthy, too blemished, too tarnished, too tainted. Many feel they are not good enough to share in this amazing grace that the Bible talks so openly about. Well, the fact is these people are right. They are unworthy, blemished, tarnished, tainted. All of us are. That’s the whole point of the gospel in a nutshell. We cannot go to God because of who we are. But God can come to us. And he did. Christ came into the world for the sick, the fractured, the less than whole. Our unworthiness is our greatest claim to the good news of the gospel.
Because we are broken, we are blessed.
© L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved
The incredible growth of the Chinese Church continues and I wanted to once again mount my soap box and ask that all readers of this site remember to pray for your brothers and sisters in China. In spite of formidable odds, restrictive laws, and consistent persecution, Chinese Christians continue to spread the gospel throughout their homeland and the results are staggering. Although the church, particularly the underground house church movement, is still expanding at a mind-boggling pace, these brave, committed Christ-followers need ongoing prayer and support.
If you are a regular reader of this site, you probably know that I lived and worked in China for five-plus years, serving as a tent-maker missionary. As I have stated many times, these years were the most rewarding years of my life personally, professionally, and especially, spiritually. The commitment, vitality, and courage of the Chinese Church is truly inspirational. As my wife, who is Chinese, and I often share in our talks about the Chinese Church, God is doing a very special work in the Middle Kingdom.
It has often been said that the Chinese House Churches bear a striking similarity to the First Century Church and there is much truth to this statement. Most times, however, those who make these comparisons have focused primarily on the similarities between the early Church and the house churches in the context of location and structure. Like the early Christians, the Chinese house churches meet in peoples homes and have a similar structure to their First Century counterparts. Another striking similarity of course is that both groups faced persecution. The Chinese Church, as previously stated, still is quite unpopular with the government and, to some extent, the secular culture as well.
It is important to consider these similarities to be sure, but there are other ways the Chinese Church bears close resemblance to the early Christian church in the First Century. Let’s take a look at a description of the early church by Don Basham, given in his book A Handbook on Holy Spirit Baptism:
What grips the imagination is not the lack of prestige but the demonstration of power. In that day, God moved in response to prayer. Miracles attended the saving power of Jesus Christ. Within the spreading fires of that church’s influence, not only were the lost redeemed, but the lame walked, the blind received their sight and the oppressed were delivered from demonic powers. It was a fellowship of believers admittedly imperfect but vibrantly and dynamically alive. It may have been despised by the society around it, but no one ever accused it of being dull and boring…..Those early Christians were more interested in manifesting the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives than in maintaining orderly worship services. They were more concerned with Christian love than correct liturgy, more concerned with being found faithful than found popular.
When I first read these words I immediately thought of my many Christian friends in China, both in house churches and in the sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Many of these Christians are on fire for the Master, seeking to serve him wherever they are planted and doing so in often difficult circumstances.
Also, just as in the early church, there is a great deal of emphasis on the Holy Spirit. This is truer of the house churches than the Three-Self bodies, where more charismatic displays are discouraged. In the underground church there are frequent, well-documented cases of signs, wonders, and the miraculous. As in other areas of the world, the explosion of church growth in China has been primarily a Pentecostal/Charismatic phenomenon and, whether more sedate and staid members of the Body of Christ in the West understand it or not, this reality has resulted in a vital, energetic, and courageous church that flourishes in spite of governmental, social, and economic impediments. From my first-hand observations of the Christian faith in China, this is without a doubt a work of God.
It is for these and many others reasons that I ask you to continue to pray for the Chinese Church as it finds its way in the ever-changing landscape that is contemporary China. God is indeed doing a great work among these wonderful people and we can all be a part of it through prayer and encouragement.
In addition, please remember that there are still many of our brothers and sisters in China who are suffering mightily due to the devastating earthquake that struck Sichuan Province late last spring. Months later, many remain homeless and without many of the basic items we often take for granted.
© L.D. Turner 2009/ All Rights Reserved
*** A significant number of readers have asked that we again publish this article on the Back To Jerusalem movement, a missionary effort of the Chinese Church. We are more than happy to do so as we at LifeBrook both support and engage in continuing prayer for the safety and success of those involved.
The news of late has carried a number of stories about the Olympic Torch and its precarious journey around the world. Protesters in many countries have gathered to make their voice heard about the atrocities committed by the Chinese government in its suppression of Tibet and its support for the bloodshed in Darfur.
Perhaps lost in this vocal and even violent protest over the plight of the Tibetans is the difficulties often encountered by Christians in China. Although the Communist Party has gradually taken a more tolerant position toward the Chinese Church, there are still incidents of persecution, imprisonment, torture, rape, and even murder. These atrocities are often aimed at members of China’s illegal underground church and, while many make it in to the western press, many others go unnoticed.
This article, however, is not so much about the persecution of Christians in China as it is about the heroic efforts of Chinese Christians to spread the gospel beyond the borders of the Middle Kingdom. The fact that these brothers and sisters in Christ plan and execute these missionary efforts is especially remarkable, considering the political environment in which they have to operate.
I lived and worked in China for over five years, serving as a “tent-maker” missionary. During this time, I became acquainted with many Chinese Christians, both members of underground house churches and the official Three Self Patriotic Movement, the government sanctioned church in China. It was through my friendships with these remarkable Christians that I first learned of the “Back to Jerusalem” project. Since returning to the States I have learned that very few western Christians are aware of Back to Jerusalem, so I want to share a bit of information about the movement in hopes that these brief words might motivate readers to pray for these courageous missionaries who, quite often, place themselves in the mouth of the lion.
Briefly stated, the goal of the Back to Jerusalem project is for Chinese Christians to evangelize all the nations between China and Jerusalem. The proponents of the movement understand that Christianity spread westward from Jerusalem and eventually to Britain and America. The faith then traveled from these two countries to China. The Chinese Church now feels it has both a call and a mandate from God to take the gospel message all the way back to its origin. In a geographical sense, the good news will have spread around the world.
The vision for Back to Jerusalem actually was birthed back in the 1920’s, but due to the ever-shifting nature of Chinese politics during the first half of the 20th Century, the movement fell off the radar for a number of years, only to resurface with great passion as the century drew to a close. Often hamstrung by a lack of funds, the proponents of the project never gave up. Against all odds, the initial missionary team was formed and trained.
In March, 2000, a team of 36 Chinese missionaries left the country for the mission field. A number of them never returned, but the project continued to move forward. Relatively unknown in the West, the Back to Jerusalem movement continued to arouse passion in the Chinese Church. Many of the initial missionaries had been subject to torture, deprivation, and ill-treatment in their home country, so they were well-prepared for what they might face in other lands that were hostile to Christianity, especially Muslim nations.
The Islamic countries are a high priority for the Back to Jerusalem missionaries. As I talked to people involved in the project and reflected on what I learned, I arrived at one salient awareness: Perhaps the Chinese are much better equipped to evangelize Muslim nations than we westerners, particularly Americans, are. The fact is, Americans have a bad reputation in the Islamic World. Whether this image is justified or not is not the issue here. The reality is, a Muslim is more likely to listen to a Chinese Christian than an American one.
Space does not permit a detailed analysis of the movement here. I would like, however, to encourage Christians here in the States to pray for these missionaries, their families, and for the success of Back to Jerusalem. Believe me, these folks need all the help they can get, spiritual and material. If you would like more information on the Back to Jerusalem project, visit the website:
Also, Paul Hattaway, along with three prominent house church pastors, has written a book entitled, Back To Jerusalem, which contains useful information.
In closing, I find it ironic that, with all the protest about the Olympic Flame and whether or not it will complete its journey around the world, the Chinese are carrying another flame, this one of the spirit, which is also attempting to complete a circumnavigation of the globe.
May God be with these courageous people.
© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved
Our old history ends with the Cross; our new history begins with the resurrection. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold they are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Cross terminates the first creation, and out of death there is brought a new creation in Christ, the second Man. If we are “in Adam,” all that is in Adam necessarily devolves upon us; it becomes ours involuntarily, for we have to do nothing to get it. There is no need to make up our minds to lose our temper or to commit some other sin; it comes to us freely and despite ourselves. In a similar way, if we are “in Christ,” all that is in Christ comes to us by free grace, without effort on our part but on the grounds of simple faith.
(from The Normal Christian Life)
As the 2008 Beijing Olympics are underway, I have been reflecting on some of the legal aspects of practicing Christianity in China, specifically as such practice applies to Chinese citizens. I suspect that most American Christians are generally unaware of how the legal system works in China in relation to religious practice.
In addition, as the Olympics unfold there will be increased media attention focused on China and, whenever there is increased media attention on a subject, there is often an increase in confusion. This occurs not out of less than savory motives, but instead, occurs because it is impossible to give the full perspective on an issue in the space of a few minutes or worse still, in a sound bite.
As some readers know, I spent close to six years living and working in China. As what has come to be called a “tent maker” missionary, I worked as a university professor, teaching advanced courses to English and Journalism majors. As I have said before, this was perhaps the most rewarding experience I have ever had, both professionally and spiritually. I became very close with a number of Chinese Christians and, in so doing, gained much perspective on the reality of what it means to worship Christ in China today.
Before I went to China, I had a long-standing love affair with all things Chinese. I was a serious student of Chinese history, culture, religion, and philosophy. My time there only deepened the affection I felt for this magnificent land and its even more magnificent people. I especially came to honor and esteem Chinese Christians who are forced to go about pursuing their love for Christ in ways that we cannot even imagine. Observing, developing friendships, and just associating with these folks taught me more than I can ever know.
Living and working in China, I also discovered that we Americans have a somewhat distorted view of Chinese society in general and Chinese Christianity in particular. This is not to say that everything we see, hear, and assume about China and its Church is incorrect. It is just to assert that there are some areas where, due to a lack of contact and familiarity, we have come to several erroneous conclusions.
As a very brief backdrop to what follows, let me share a few things that will help you understand the contents of this article. First of all, Christianity in China is growing at a pace too rapid to quantify. All attempts at discerning the actual number of professing and practicing Christians in China is wrought with difficulty. Official figures cannot be trusted due to questionable and largely inaccurate methods of data collection, along with the fact that the local governments often report either inflated or otherwise faulty figures in order to meet the needs of its own agenda. Also, the membership in the massive house church movement, which by the way is where the tidal wave of expansion is taking place, is not available. In a country where religious persecution can be a definite reality, keeping membership rolls is asking for trouble.
Explaining the divisions of Christianity is also somewhat difficult, but I generally use the following way of breaking things down into a manageable perspective. Basically, there are three types of religious entities found in China. First, there is the government sanctioned church, known as the Three Self Patriotic Movement. This is the official church and, increasingly, these congregations are meeting in church buildings, not wholly unlike their counterparts in our country. The distinguishing feature of the Three Self Church is the fact that it is a legal entity and, although it operates under close state scrutiny and restrictive laws, members rarely are harassed for worshipping openly unless they do something that violates one of the many laws governing church operations and practices.
I am in daily prayer for the Chinese Church in all its forms and I hope that, with the Lord’s guidance and blessing, I can eventually turn some of the material I will be sharing in this series of articles into a book that delves into the subject at a greater depth. Most of the research and first draft has already been completed. Also, here at LifeBrook my wife, myself, and a Chinese couple we are dear friends have put together a ministry we call ChinaLight International, which is commissioned with the goal of increasing contact, understanding, and cooperation between Christians in China and America. This undertaking, however, is wrought with difficulties in terms of laws in both countries, visa issues, and international politics.
Still, we are assured that we can, with the Lord’s help and benediction, turn these stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We humbly and earnestly ask for your prayers for this vital endeavor.
© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved