A team of Southern Baptists, including four people from Texas and two from Florida, has returned from a 10-day trip to China to assess possibilities for work in that persecuted country. The trip was coordinated through the International Mission Board and included a Southern Baptists of Texas Convention group.
Out of the 1.9 billion Chinese people, there are about 480 people and language groups and varied religions. One of the cities the team members stayed in had 1.3 million people. In the communist country, there are 166 cities that have over 1 million people in them.
“On average, there are 20,000 people a day coming to Christ in China,” said David Kimberly, director of missions for the Big Spring/Lamesa Association and a member of the SBTC contingent. “It would take us through the 21UP>st century to reach every one of them, and only five percent of China‘s population call themselves Christians.”
In China, Christian churches are generally required to register with the government and are controlled and monitored by authorities, which has spurred an underground church movement.
Most Chinese have an understanding of heaven; the plethora of religions active through the nation include Taoism, Confucianism, astrology, Chinese folk religion, shamanism, ancestor worship, Buddhism and Islam. Forty-two percent of China‘s population actually claims no religion after the government’s atheist rule became preeminent.
Kimberly said the underground church movements are multiplying quickly within the country. “Two house churches are each larger than the Southern Baptist Convention’s membership [totaled],” Kimberly said. “The Chinese people who are Christians are taking the good news to the Muslim world and back to Jerusalem.”
Kimberly said a local businessman was hired to drive and interpret for the group as they traveled the Chinese countryside. During their stay, they talked with the man about Christ, including him in the worship service they conducted in their hotel room during the week.
“He would ask questions about children, how to raise them, and other things,” Kimberly said. “We would answer him from a biblical standpoint. It intrigued the driver. He saw the joy we had in the Lord.”
After Kimberly and Garland Stuart, pastor of Midway Baptist </