Anti-foreign sentiment grows in China

By May 6, 2024

China (MNN) — If you Google ‘China’ today, you’ll see headlines about uncertain economic growth, issues in the South China Sea, and closer ties with Russia and Iran.

Less known are the subtle shifts closing the door and removing the welcome mat to foreigners from the West. This change affects employment, investment, religion, and foreign policies.

Bibles For China’s Kurt Rovenstine just returned from a trip to China. “There is a growing resistance against forces or influences outside of China being present in China, affecting policy or culture or mindsets, and it was sensed on this trip.”

Although they did have good conversations with many of their partners, he says, “We did face some pushback against me as a foreigner, in places that China doesn’t want there to necessarily be foreigners; places like the church.”

Rovenstine says their itinerary changed because his presence drew too much scrutiny to their hosts.

When asked if China viewed Christianity as a ‘Western Religion,’ Rovenstine demurred. “The gospel is not Western; the gospel is universal”, but adds that the ministry is pivoting, at the request of their partners.

(Photo courtesy of Bibles for China)

The tension is more about the government viewing Western influence as ‘not Chinese’ and less about Christ. However, that friction extends now to more than the Underground Church.

Most notably, “For years, the registered church (or otherwise) has had partnerships and collaborations with people in the West that come in to do training, provide resources, etc., and (they) use them in a way that helps them to build their church. That’s just becoming more and more difficult for the Chinese believers.”

Because of the scrutiny the Church faces, and because of the growing anti-foreign sentiment within China, Bibles For China is changing its response, explains Rovenstine.

The most requested assistance is leadership training. “We’re helping to deliver study Bibles, leadership Bibles, and teaching Bibles that help the young men and women, or at least the untrained men and women seeking training, be prepared to go to their churches and present the Gospel.”

Providing the Word of God in a trustworthy, biblically accurate form is still the primary goal throughout the country and in the diaspora.

The Chinese Church also recognizes that “Leadership is important. Training the next generation is important, and the Church in China will grow when we equip pastors and laypeople to be strong, informed, well-educated, and well-prepared ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The season is changing.

Rovenstine says the culture of China is beautiful and diverse. The body of Christ in China is equally unique.

Regardless of the political temperature, walking alongside believers as they prepare themselves for a time when the doors close and the locks change means we should “Pray for the Church, that they’ll be strong amid this tension and this desire to push back against foreigners. Pray for these young leaders as they prepare for ministry and even now are in ministry and the Church in China.”



Header image and story images courtesy of Bibles for China.

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