China (MNN) – Beijing’s new NGO (Non-Government Organization) law is supposed to be protecting national identity, but in practice, it could be used to interfere with churches and parachurch ministries and schools.
Passed on April 28 by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, (their legislative body), it goes into effect at the beginning of next year. How short with the leash be now? Under the law, the authority to oversee foreign NGOs will be shifted from the Ministry of Civil Affairs to the Ministry of Public Security.
The penalties for those who run afoul of the new law will likely be stiff. The new NGO law may have been a reaction to the recent revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. These uprisings may have played a role in Beijing assuming that NGO’s funded the groups behind the chaos, which would translate into a major threat to party rule.
While there is no direct proof that the church is the target, there has been a notable rise in persecution in China where the government is cracking down on both above ground and underground church.
Why would Chinese Christians ask for church planting training now? Global Advance’s Ken Janke responds that having healthy leaders is key to true societal transformation. “At Global Advance, we say we’re commissioned with the Great Commission to equip and put tools in the hands of pastors who are going to grow the church. When the church is grown, and it’s healthy and it’s vibrant, then we’re going to see societal transformation.”
Global Advance teams recently were in South West China in the Sichuan Province. “There are urban churches, where we typically find the above and the underground church thriving, but in rural villages, there is a move of the Church, where Christians wanting to gather and pray and seek God and find out what God’s best is for them”, explains Janke.
As the teams taught, they also set aside time to pray. The response they saw there revealed a robust group of people dedicated to following Christ and making disciples. Plus, “There is a real hunger and a passion to not only grow in their faith, but also to be a missional force, to go to the nations. The Silk Road is something that is actionable steps taking place, and the Church in China is beginning to see itself as a missional force.”
Not only are they working in Sichuan Province, but also, “…we’ll be going to other provinces throughout China, but we’re also working with famers and rural leaders who really have a heart to grow the church and reach other villages nearby.”
Availability of the resources isn’t the question; the question that lays out their future course is ‘how do we get what’s available into their hands?’ and ‘do they know how to use their tools?’ More and more teams are getting on board and connecting with one another to supercharge the Gospel engine, so to speak.
In answer to the question ‘Why plant more churches?’ Janke says, “As there’s an increasing global population, basically researchers are saying there’s an estimated need for five million new churches to be planted within the next five to ten years just to keep pace with the population growth.”
Five million new churches in the next decade seems like an insurmountable task. Janke admits it’s big, but it’s not impossible.
“Please pray for the church in China. Pray for its expansion. Pray for the rising up of the missionaries that will be sent up from China.”