China (MNN) — When the Israelites left Egypt, they wandered
in the desert for 40 years, until the generation that left forgot the safety of
the bondage they were rescued from.
In many ways, the Chinese church is experiencing the same phenomenon. Erik Burklin with China Partner explains, "Chinese that are living in
the United States and in Canada came to our country to get away from Communism,
to get away from the Cultural Revolution, to get away from oppression and all
But there's a movement of the younger generation to go back
to its roots and nurture the growing church in mainland China. "I just came back from a China
conference in Vancouver where there were
2,000 Chinese Christians at this year-end conference. Half of them were young people under 25."
As the years of the
Cultural Revolution fade into memory, the scars fade from current history. The younger generation isn't hobbled by the
nightmares of persecution their parents and grandparents lived through. "They're much more open-minded to doing God's
work, in a legal way, in China."
This paradigm shift presents an interesting scenario. Burklin says, "This is the generation now that is still ethnic Chinese,
but lives in North America. Now, they're growing up and realizing, ‘Okay, God
has put a heartbeat of mission in my heart. What can I do?'"
They're going home. Although they are American-born Chinese, they have strong cultural ties
to China…there's a heritage and a family tradition they've been told about, but
they never lived on the soil. That's why
China Partner is coming alongside. "We're now coining this new phrase, ‘By the
Chinese, for the Chinese.' What we mean
by that is that we want to use more Chinese brothers and sisters, Chinese churches in North America to partner with
us to minister to the Chinese in mainland China."
Burklin explains that
without a language barrier, communication of ideas is much more
efficient. "We really are trying to
attract young pastors who speak Mandarin from North American Chinese churches
as guest trainers, as guest lecturers so to speak, to conduct the training."
The Israelites wandered in the desert for a generation, not
only to forget its bondage, but also to draw closer to God. In much the same way, China's church is
following the footprints left by Israel's journey.