On a recent trip over the Australian summer to China, I got to experience firsthand the works of the Church and Church organisations in China. Although I cannot delve into specific detail due to the restrictions upon Christianity in China; I will hope to enlighten you, the reader, with a glimpse into the Church in China, and China itself.
In the wake of rapid urbanisation and wealth increase, daily life in China often looks not too unfamiliar to people from the advanced economies of the West. Multinational brands and chain stores like McDonalds, are in almost every large urban city, along with multiple clothing brands like Dolce & Gabbana, etc. Materialism is quite prevalent and is considered as a virtue to have wealth or display wealth.
In contrast, the Church's daily life is one of constant work with the poor and the needy, and this is performed through various charities, who have a presence in China. Whether or not a Christian in China hails from an underground/unregistered congregation, or from a government-approved/registered congregation, all work towards the same goal; advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through good works laboured in faith, love, and hope, for all of Chinese society.
Due to my status as a foreigner in China, I wasn't able to attend a church service on Sundays due to administrative government restrictions. Despite this, I was able to observe large amounts of parishioners streaming toward the local church (pictured) on Sunday. Churches in China are thriving and also expanding at steady rates, and ideas of Christian faith continue to spread once more through the land as the administrative obstacles gradually wear down each year.
Part of my time in China was spent teaching English in local high schools with the blessing of the local government. We were able to build relationships with both students and teachers during our week stay in a township near Central China.
One of the blessings I received from the teaching trip was an opportunity to see that kids in rural/suburban China are just like any children around the world; they all have aspirations and dreams of what life can be. Some wanted to be doctors, soldiers, teachers, and scientists. Some didn't know what they wanted to do, and at the age of around 12 years old, this was normal. Nevertheless, they all desired to do well in the circumstances they were given, and this really inspired me to also do the same.
Reflection on our Privilege
My trip to rural China opened a new door in my heart and mind to understand the immense ability and resourcefulness that we as Westerners are endowed with. The freedoms we have of religion and civil rights are often taken for granted and even deemed as insufficient for our place as citizens in Western society.
Whilst we argue and debate over the rights of our churches or how we can somehow incorporate faith into our lives, people in the rest of the non-Western world strive to make a living. The stereotypical image of the helpless African or the uneducated farm boy is not entirely true, but its not entirely inaccurate either.
My challenge now as an able-bodied, financially equipped, and faith endowed Australian Christian is now to understand the nature of the need in societies not only in Sydney, or Australia, but everywhere in the world where the orphan and the widow are desperately praying and hoping for a better life.
The Christian response should not only be in supplication and intercession to God, but also a attitude of generosity should be fostered and encouraged in day to day living. Personally, this is one of the greatest challenges for me, and from what I know, a lot of Christians too.
God will do great things, we just need to respond with faith and actions.
"Faith without works is dead." - St. James
Jack Liang - Jack is studying Commerce and Arts at Macquarie University, he is part of a family of five, his hobbies include computer gaming, football and reading church history. He is an active part of the English Ministry at the Campsie Chinese Congregational Church.
Jack Liang's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jack-liang.html