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Chinese open to American witness

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is based on interviews conducted during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Audio clips of these interviews are being made available for download so Southern Baptists can be better informed about the need for the Gospel among one of the greatest populations in the world.

BEIJING (BP)–American visitors to China have something on their side that their Chinese brothers and sisters don’t have in the task of proclaiming the Gospel: They’re from an intriguing, prosperous nation half a globe away.

That’s what a Chinese woman told an International Mission Board worker during the Beijing Olympics in one of three audio clips with English voiceovers.

“We wish more and more [Christian] brothers and sisters can come to China to help us to plant seeds,” said the woman, who is a member of a house church. “We need you because you can do the job we can’t do in China. Listen to complete interview here.

“We can’t share the Gospel with the Chinese people because they will think [we] are stupid because our textbooks say, ‘There is no God in the world. If you believe in God, you are stupid,'” she said. “But, if you [foreigners] come in, [they] won’t think you are stupid.”

The woman explained that because the United States is a reputable world leader and average Americans lead lives that are much more privileged than most of people in the world, they carry a mystique when they visit China.

“So, when you are talking with them to share the Gospel, they will be listening,” she said. “You have Jesus. That’s why your life is different.”

Around the Olympics, China welcomed people from all nations, the woman noted, and the Chinese government even allowed Bibles in hotel rooms.

“Also, we can get the Bible in the bookstore. But before, that was impossible.”

The need in China for a Gospel witness is vast, she added.

“In China, we still have millions of people who haven’t heard the Gospel. They don’t believe in God,” the woman said. “They just don’t have opportunity to hear the Gospel. Even in Beijing, we have 20 million people, but we only have 10 public churches.”

A Chinese man interviewed by the IMB worker emphasized what a major world event the Olympics was for China and how he was pleased that so many nations were interested in his home country. He is not a Believer but shared some insights into Chinese thoughts about recent events.

“In the past, many thought that old China was very chaotic. But after the earthquake, many people now say that China is very united,” he said, referring to the magnitude 8.0 quake that shook Sichuan province in May. “Patriotism here isn’t like in your country. Two brothers in a family, they fight, but if one brother is in trouble the other one will come to his aid.” Listen to complete interview here.

The man told about his company reacting quickly with a fundraiser for earthquake victims, and he hinted at the corruption in China that made it difficult to send money to the affected region.

“China is not an aggressive country,” he said. “China has a long history and culture, and is peace-loving. But it has too many people and has created a lot of problems that our government wasn’t handling very well. But China has this tradition of respecting the elders, so Chinese really value kinsmanship.”

Another woman who boldly identified herself as a Christian told the IMB interviewer that the Olympics allowed people of various countries to understand China better.

“The Olympic torch, when it came to my city, I went to see it,” said the woman, who is a member of a church officially registered with the government. “There were so many people. There was a young foreign girl who was running and yelling ‘China!’ And then everyone would yell ‘Go, China, go!’ I felt very happy for China, and proud.” Listen to complete interview here.

The woman said believers have a monumental task ahead of them if every Chinese person is going to hear the Gospel message. There are some signs of progress, though.

“For example, in the past, Chinese didn’t know about Christmas,” the woman said. “Now, Christmas is an important holiday in China. Young people all know that Christmas is about Jesus, and the numbers of those who know about Jesus are growing.

“What should we do? Share the Gospel. We must pray every day. Also, we should live according to Jesus’ words,” she said.

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