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Made in China, born in the USA: 2 thoughts

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Pregnant women show off images on their stomachs, painted by an artist during a contest at a hospital in Haikou, in the Hainan Province, South China, August 07, 2006 (Credit: Reuters/ChinaFotoPress/Huang Yibing)

A recent CNN article describes a growing trend among expectant Chinese mothers that is seeing many of them come to the United States, typically California, to give birth. While this is not a new phenomenon, it has become increasingly popular in the last few years. There have been more than twice as many reported instances in 2012 than five years before. Why would expectant mothers choose to make the 12 hour flight to have their children more than 6,000 miles away from their homes and families? The primary benefits are associated with the dual citizenship such children would receive. With American citizenship, such children are able to attend more exclusive international schools back home while also making it easier to attend American schools at a later date. Additionally, it allows some parents to avoid the one-child policy that still exists in China, even if it has been somewhat loosened in recent years. A final benefit is that once the children turn 21, they will be able to sponsor the rest of their family should they seek to immigrate to America.

Immigration is becoming an increasingly popular option for many of China’s wealthiest citizens. The article states that almost 2/3 of those with more than 10 million yuan (around $1.6 million) in the bank have either already immigrated or are contemplating the option, with the United States a popular destination. However, it should come as no surprise that it is typically China’s wealthier citizens that are coming to America to give birth. One woman estimated that it cost her around $30,000 to have her second child here and that seems to be fairly standard. There are even agencies that can be hired to help facilitate the journey, offering packages that include stays at “maternity hotels” where meals, doctor’s appointments, transportation, and more are provided. With all the potential benefits, it does not seem like a trend that is going to end anytime soon.

So what does this development mean for the Church in America? Two thoughts:

First, this trend means a chance to share the gospel with people that might otherwise never hear it. While there might be a tendency for some to read this story and begin to think first of what it means for Americans, to do so would be to miss the larger opportunity. What can we, as the Church, do to help these mothers? While they may be coming to America to seek better opportunities for their children, doing so places them far away from family and the support network that is so crucial when having a baby. How great would it be if the first people they met, the ones volunteering to help take them to their doctor’s appointments and to adjust to this culture, were doing so in the name of Christ? In the Great Commission, Jesus instructed us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), but he is using developments like this to bring the nations to us as well. What will we do with that opportunity?

Second, while we might not all be able to minister directly to the women in this article, God has given each of us a unique opportunity to share his love and his message of salvation with those around us. Those opportunities may look different for every person but God’s call remains the same for each believer: we are to make disciples wherever he has called us to be. How will you obey the Lord’s command today?