The Challenge of East AsiaBy David Taylor
When we think of East Asia what often comes to mind is the incredible growth of the church in China. In spite of all the challenges and difficulties they face, the Spirit of God has enabled them to overcome and thrive. Now is a time of great testing, the most severe in over a decade. After a relative period of peace, thousands of churches are being closed all over the country. The government is cracking down especially in urban areas, where churches have proliferated in the last decade. It is a new form of “legal persecution” in which the government passes laws and then makes compliance next to impossible for believers.
While this new persecution has received a good deal of press, what is overlooked is the plight of the 500 unreached people groups in China. Over 200 have not a single missionary among them, and the others are inadequately evangelized. On the one hand this is a striking paradox. Why in a land of 100 million evangelical Christians are there still so many people groups without a single missionary?
There are several reasons for this:
1.) The Chinese church has not been educated about these people groups. They have been taught by the Chinese government that there are only 57 minority groups.
2.) The unreached groups are not easy to get to. Outside of Chinese cities, those in the country-side live as though they were still in the 19th century or before. Wherever you go, and whoever you may be, by its very nature missions is not easy. It wasn’t easy in the first century for the apostles either!
3.) Though the Han Chinese believers may not be the most ready and willing to reach the minorities, there are many believers among a few minority groups like the Lisu. These believers are just beginning to get a vision to reach their fellow minority peoples, and they may prove the most effective as near-cultural evangelists.
4.) The minorities face severe economic hardships and challenges that has resulted in widespread drug-addiction and despair among young people. Millions have been imprisoned. While this is an obstacle, it is simultaneously an opportunity for the love of Christ to come in practical ways.
What this means is that we need to ask God for a special outpouring of his Spirit upon this area of the world. Pray for those whom God is calling even now to go into these areas, and intercede for open doors to get there. God has not forgotten any of them. He thinks of them night and day. He asks us, his sons and daughters, to enter into his passion for their redemption. Is He worthy of anything less?