Financial Times recently reported (August 10, 2017) on Chinese Christian missionaries who are using China’s road building initiative to share the gospel in China and beyond.
Belt and Road Plan an invitation to evangelism
China’s Belt and Road Plan seeks to link China by with much more of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The country has pledged $124 billion to improve sea, rail, and highway connections between itself and nations to its west. Work on this project is underway.
A number of Christian churches in China view the Belt and Road Plan as an opportunity to take the gospel to more souls in Asia, Africa, and Europe. By 2020 they plan to have commissioned up to 20,000 missionaries along the path of the new highways China will build. Today there are only 1,000 Chinese missionaries working outside the country.
Role of unregistered churches
Financial Times says, “Nearly all Chinese missionaries are from ‘underground’ churches [which are] independent of China’s state-controlled Protestant association.” Because they have no ties with China’s government and because they are experienced with operating an underground church, these missionaries are able to operate without detection in countries that are hostile to the Christian message.
These evangelistic efforts have roots in the “Back to Jerusalem” movement that began in China in the 1920s. At that time the Jesus Family Church in Shandong province made it their goal to evangelize the unreached peoples from eastern provinces of China westwards towards Jerusalem. Today that goal has found a champion in exiled Chinese house church leader Liu Zhenying (Brother Yun). Yun envisions evangelizing fifty-one countries by sending a minimum of 100,000 missionaries along the Silk Road.