There seems to be a good number of people who make it to this blog in search of an answer to the question ‘how can I be a missionary to China?’ If that’s you, I would love to share a few thoughts with you as well as hear from you personally. It’s obvious that, in addition to the fears and misgivings that come with being a missionary anywhere, there’s a unique confusion that comes with missions endeavors to a closed country like China. So let me try to root out some of the oft-repeated ‘have-to‘s you may find yourself believing in…
Here’s a few things everyone in your shoes should know:
1. You can preach the Gospel in China.
…you don’t have to only witness by a good testimony in the workplace
2. You can live in China without teaching English.
…you don’t have to work at a school to get a visa and money
3. You can learn to speak Chinese well.
…you don’t have to minister only to those who speak English
4. You can work in house churches in China.
…you don’t have to go to government churches or expat fellowships
5. You can play a vital role in missions in China.
…you don’t have to just make contacts to pass along to others
These are the big misconceptions that lead people who, like you, are excited about missions in China into a mess of ineffectiveness. Because of these ‘have-to’s, they join up with some organization who promises to get them a teaching job and visa. Or they independently come over and enroll in some school. Or they find an orphanage that can keep them busy. To you, then, and all the people who came before you only to be entangled in something besides making disciples, I offer only three imploring words…
F I N D A C H U R C H
And that’s about the extent of my advice. Because this is the giant sinkhole of modern missions involvement – a practical divorce from the church. I have been shocked at the number of self-proclaimed missionaries that don’t even go to church regularly! Really, if someone wanted to go do some work for the Lord in Boston or Bhutan, in Kansas City or Kuala Lumpur, this is the piece of counsel that would not change! Because no matter what else you’re doing, you are to be busy making disciples! And for that task, you need a church. So join one, attend one, lead one, or plant one… but don’t forget one. If you do, you may be a lot of things, but ‘missionary’ is not one of them.
What kind of church should you find? A place where you (in all of your foreign-ness) can get involved in preaching, teaching, and discipling. You need a place where you can learn Chinese, learn about unregistered-church-planting, and learn to make disciples in China. If you’re not interested in these things… um… I think you have missions confused with something else! And please don’t buy into the lie that you can’t do these things because it’s China – I’ll give you all the stories you want of people here doing them. And have a goal besides ‘get to China’ – because it’s way easier than you think to get paid to live in China. But it will take a lot of hard work to make you into a Chinese-speaking, disciple-making, church-planting missionary.
So if you’re looking for an opportunity to do these things, please let me know. I will do my best to help you FIND A CHURCH where you can be an effective part of the church’s advance in China!