Fenggang Yang is a sociology professor at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival Under Communist Rule. He believes that “China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon.” By his calculations, the number of believers in the People’s Republic of China will rise to 160 million by 2025 and 247 million by 2030. If so, the country would be home to more Christians than any nation on earth.
When I visited Beijing a few years ago, I was told that the rate of Christian growth is even higher than Professor Yang documents. By some measures, as many as 100,000 Chinese people come to Christ every day. Growth there is hard to document, given the large underground Christian movement in the country. Some observers believe that there are more followers of Jesus in China than members of the Chinese Communist party.
When missionaries were expelled from China in 1949, there were less than four million believers in the country. Many predicted the death of the church. In the decades since, the Christian movement has exploded in growth, defying all odds and persecution. Recent attacks on church buildings in China are the enemy’s latest response to the advance of God’s Kingdom in this ancient land.
What has led to China’s spiritual renaissance?
First, Christians in China have learned to depend fully and unconditionally on the power of God’s Spirit. When I visited Beijing, I was astonished by the passionate spiritual depth I encountered. In a culture where there is little cultural support and active government resistance, believers must turn to God. Mother Teresa was right: “You’ll never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”
Second, Chinese Christians have paid the price of perseverance. They have weathered waves of persecution and opposition with steadfast resolve. Such commitment has deepened their community and their faith. Albert Schweitzer observed that “one who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.” Albert Einstein believed that “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
How has God called you to engage your lost culture with his truth and love? The higher your calling, the harder you must climb to fulfill it. But Charles Spurgeon was right: “If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe him at all.”
Do you believe God today?