As a westerner, I am always interested to learn about what it is like to be a Chinese Christian. Last year I had the opportunity to interview several sisters from one of the local churches in the city where I live. I asked them about their joys and challenges as a Christian, how they thought the Chinese culture viewed Christianity and the Gospel message, and finally what they would like to know about Christians in other parts of the world. Below are their responses. (Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.)
GEORGE: What do you think is the biggest joy for you?
NANCY: My biggest joy is knowing Jesus Christ. I am happy every day because God is with us. We had a lot of troubles in earlier times but because Jesus carried our sorrows we can face difficulties with His help.
APRIL: Well, things like coming before God, gathering, communicating with sisters in church and with God at home are my biggest joy.
GENA: My biggest joy is to share God's love with others. I like to share God's love with those who are Jesus' followers and some non-believers also.
CANDY: It is being blessed. God brings us blessings in every aspect of our lives, particularly in our spiritual lives. In addition, God also blesses our health and gives peace and joy to our families.
GEORGE: What are some challenges of being a Christian?
NANCY: There are some tough issues that I cannot deal with, but God will make a way for me after praying. Furthermore, the outcome is beyond my thoughts.
APRIL: My toughest difficulty, it seems to be not grasping English well. In following Jesus? Well, I think there is no difficulty or hardship before God.
GENA: My biggest challenge is to think the same way that God does.
CANDY: The biggest difficulty is our weakness and powerlessness, where we need God's help.
GEORGE: What do you think are Chinese peoples' attitudes towards the Gospel? Do they see it is a western thing?
NANCY: The Gospel is widespread nowadays in China. A lot of people have come to believe in God. Chinese people held the idea for a long time that man could conquer nature, for they had not known God for thousands of years. You know God created the heavens and the earth and the entire universe. Therefore, can man really conquer the universe? Yes, Chinese people believe that Jesus is a god of western people, not ours. We Chinese people cannot accept a foreign religion and their god. So I explain to them that Jesus, born in Jerusalem, is the Son of God. We cannot judge him as a foreigner according to his birthplace. No matter where Jesus was born, he is God over all the earth, through whom all things were made. After listening to my explanation, they come to understand.
APRIL: Yes, some people do. On the contrary, there were also devout Chinese Christians such as Soong Ching-ling's father, who had received a higher education. Many Chinese had no access to a good education for a long time. That's why they became Christians later in life. With the improvement in education levels, Chinese people will become more and more knowledgeable, so they may have a deeper understanding of Christianity.
GENA: Many Chinese people think Christianity is a western religion. This causes many problems when sharing the Gospel.
CANDY: I agree with Gena. The western idea of God and the Chinese idea of God are different. Chinese people also worship idols that for them are gods. When we (Chinese Christians) preach the good news to those who worship idols, we really need guidance, confidence, and power from God.
GEORGE: Do you have any questions about Christians and churches in other countries?
NANCY: All the Christians all belong to one family, no matter which country you are in. We all believe in Jesus and Jehovah. We are all on the road to the kingdom of heaven through the cross.
APRIL: I want to know some basics about being an American Christian. It is said that American churches always provide those in need with food and drink and the brothers and sisters are loving and caring and get along very well with each other.
GENA: I wonder how they share God's love with others, whether in words or in actions. This is the question I really wanted to be answered.
CANDY: I wonder how Christians in other countries preach the good news. Also, I wonder how can they be a Christian in words and actions.
Often we hear the views to these questions from Chinese pastors, church leaders, and academics. It is good to also hear the views from the grassroots. Based on these few voices, it would seem that Chinese brothers and sisters have a simple yet strong faith in God and His ability to help them in their daily circumstances. It is encouraging to note that sharing the Gospel is for them an important part of being a follower of Jesus. As our fellow brothers and sisters grow ever more mature in their faith and as the church in China continues to grow in numbers, may they hold out the light and shine brightly for Jesus.