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Cost of Planting CHurch in CHina

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Text: Heb. 11:1, 2, 23-40; 12:1-3

Intro: Hot evening August 1979 in Shanghai. To park. “Guide,” students playing Rook. Trolley bus with Margaret Sun. Met Harry – “Hi, I’m Harry!” David Chen’s apartment (MBI graduate) – 4 years in prison. Harry’s story of 12 years in prison.

            History of planting the church in China is a story of torture, rape, beheading, murder of thousands of  Christians and missionaries. No greater testimony to the veracity of the promise of Jesus Christ that the “gates of hell” will not prevail against His church. See also Psa. 76:10  Was it worth it?

I.                   ROBERT MORRISON  --  1807

A.    Contacts with the west – opium

B.     Canton (Guangzhou)

                                                              i.      No travel

                                                            ii.      Language

                                                          iii.      Liang A-fa

                                                          iv.      Bible translation in 12 years

                                                            v.      27 years – 10 converts

II.                HUDSON TAYLOR – 1853

A.    21 years old

B.     Opium Wars 1838-40

                                                              i.      Unequal treaties

                                                            ii.      Five cities opened

C.     Missionary Strategy: Chinese dress, housing, interior

III.             BOXER REBELLION – 1900

A.    Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists

B.     Spring/summer – 189 missionaries martyred, many beheaded

C.     Average one martyr per month the next 30 years


A.    Persecution

B.     Cost

C.     Total of 253, 000 Christians in 1907!!

V.                TWENTIETH CENTURY

A.    1900 – 1949

                                                              i.      Century began with great hope

                                                            ii.      Sun Yat-sen 1911

                                                          iii.      Evangelistic Crusade in the Forbidden City

                                                          iv.      Treat of Versailles – Japan rights in China

1.      Hatred of West

2.      Communist revolution in Russia

                                                            v.      Anti-Christian Movement  1922-27

1.      Missionary Force  --  8,300

2.      Reduced to 4,000

3.      3,000 of which left in 1927 alone

                                                          vi.      Civil War with Communists in 1928

                                                        vii.      Great Depression in 1929

“Undaunted, the CIM called for 200 new workers in 1929 to serve in dangerous areas. ‘It will involve the most tremendous conflict [with Satan] which we have ever undertaken,’ said the CIM director. Within the next few months eight more missionaries were killed, thirty captured and held for ransom, and twenty of thirty-two CIM stations looted. The price of serving in China remained high. In 1930 three missionaries of the Finish Free Mission Society were killed. Altogether, during 1930, the Communist killed an estimation one hundred fifty thousand Chinese in one province and burned one hundred thousand homes. One and a half million Chinese fled that province in fear.”

viii.       Missionary beheaded by Communist asked if afraid to die. Reply: “Afraid? Of what? To die and go to be with God?”   Another missionary hearing wrote:

   Afraid? Of What?

To feel the spirit’s glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

   Afraid – of that?

   Afraid? Of What?

Afraid to see the Savior’s face

To hear His welcome, and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?

   Afraid – of that?

   Afraid? Of What?

A flash, a crash, a pierced heart;

Darkness, light, O Heaven’s art!

A wound of His a counterpart!

   Afraid – of that?

   Afraid? Of what?

To do by death what life could not –

Baptize with blood a stony plot,

Till souls shall blossom from the spot?

   Afraid – of that?

This inspired a student at MBI:

            At that time the CIM was calling for a vanguard of single men to serve in dangerous Communist infested areas. Even though this could mean not marrying for several years, if at all, John Stam was willing to go. Chosen to give the Class Address for the Moody Class of 1932, he challenged:

“Shall we beat a retreat, and turn back from our high calling in Christ Jesus; or dare we advance at God’s command in face of the impossible? . . . Let us remind ourselves that the Great Commission was never qualified by clauses calling for advance only if funds were plentiful and no hardship or self-denial involved. On the contrary, we are told to expect tribulation and even persecution, but with it victory in Christ.”

o       John Stam went

o       Letter to the mission regarding the decision to pull out missionaries: “The Lord bless and guide you, but as for us may God be glorified whether by life or by death.”

o       Beheaded in 1934

o       Such was the character of these missionary. Where such commitment today? Of parents?

Church grew, 1937 was with Japan until 1945. Civil War 1945-1949.

VI.             WAR OF LIBERATION (?)

1.      Liberated to work on communes from 4:30 AM – 7:00 PM.

2.      To have lives controlled – every block

3.      Liberated to confess

4.      To have churches controlled – Chinese Christian Resist America Help Korea Three Selves Reform Movement (TSPM)

5.      Pastors and members self-criticism

6.      Most churches closed


1.    Persecution and students

2.      Imprisonment in 1954

3.      Release

4.      Reimprisoned until 1980

5.      1983 took documents to him on Doctor’s Medical Training Tour

6.      Related prison experience

a.  Memorized Scripture

b.  Encouraged as recited Rev. 2:10. “For 24 yrs tried to get me to give up my faith, but they failed.”  SEE Micah 7:7, 8 and Isa. 55:12

c.  Songs:

“All the Way my Savior leads me

            What have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt His tender mercy,

            Who through life has been my Guide?

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,

            Here by faith in Him to dwell!

For I know whate’er befall me,

            Jesus doeth all things well!

All the way my Savior leads me –

            Cheers each winding path I tread,

Gives me grace for every trial,

            Feeds me with the living bread.

Tho my weary steps may falter

            And my soul athirst may be,

Gushing from the Rock before me,

            Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me –

            O the fullness of his love!

Perfect rest to me is promised

            In my Father’s house above.

When my spirit, clothed immortal,

            Wings its flight to realms of day,

This my song through endless ages:

            Jesus led me ALL  the way.

            When Wang Ming Dao left prison, to humble self: sang “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Went to be with his Savior in 1991 at 91 years of age.



A.                Professionals to peasants

B.                20 million Red Guard

Power-crazed youth sang:

From the red east rises the sun

In China appears Mao Tse-tung.

He works for the people’s welfare,

He is the people’s great savior.

The Communist Party is like the sun,

Wherever it shines there is light;

Where the Communist Party goes,

There the people are liberated.

They woul pray to Mao three times a day: (before his portrait)

We thank you, our great leader, for this bright and beautiful day. We thank you for our health with which we can serve our country. Strengthen us now as we march off to work.

At noon before they partook their meal, they would give thanks to Mao for his great leadership which brought them the “delicious” food.

Then, before they retired in the evening, this was their evening prayer:

Our most respected great leader, we confess that we have failed today because we did not accomplish as much as we wanted to. We realize it is all because we did not study hard enough your teachings and your thoughts.

These Red Guards would shout:

We don’t need any brains! Our heads are armed with the ideas of Mao Tse-tung.”

Mao’s words were read from the Little Red Book, the preface of which stated:

One Mao Tse-tung’s thought is grasped by the broad masses, it becomes an inexhaustible source of strength and a spiritual atom bomb of infinite power.

Because of what was happening in China the following was written:

Aug. 1966, China Morning Post (Hong Kong): “Christianity in Shanghai comes to an end.”

1973, Dr. Donald Treadgold, prof. at the University of WA stated: “the evangelicals few Chinese converts were swallowed up inh history, leaving on the surface of the clashing and mingling tides of Western innovation and Chinese tradition scarcely a visible trace.”

1976,  article in same newspaper was reported the visit of a Boston Roman Catholic priest to the PRC. The headline: “Christianity is a dead letter in China.”


I was in China in 1979 when opened the first church in Shanghai (Mo’an Church). Many Christian there no doubt wondering when 20,000 showed up at the church.

Many Western Christians during those years wondered if it was all worth it. Yet, now we know that more was accomplished in 30 years without missionaries that in about a 100 years with them. But, nowhere in history have so many suffered and died that the church in China might prosper.

Ralph Winter: “Risks are not to be evaluated in terms of the probability of success, but in terms of the value of the goal.”  Today – 30 to 35,000 converts per day. Thousands of churches, especially House Churches are being planted.

Lessons from the Persecuted Church:

1.                  Understanding of the power of Prayer

2.                  Commitment to Christ at any cost

3.                  Value of persecution: purified church

4.                  True nature of the church (Not building)

5.                  Love and loyalty among fellow Christians (paying fines)

6.                  Importance of the family

7.                  Ability to balance tension between submission to the State and obedience to God, yet willing to pay the cost if necessary.

8.                  How to cautiously maintain an active, bold witness.

9.                  Development of lay leadership

10.              Love for the Word of God (hand copied.)



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