by Joe Handley
My wife and I have been attending different churches this past year, visiting many of our partners and missionaries here in Japan. It’s been a joy walking alongside the pastors and missionaries we serve. The experiences of church life have been vastly different: a smorgasbord of styles and approaches to enjoy. It’s been so fun!
Not long ago, we were attending one of these churches for the second or third time and a young Chinese professional was sitting next to us. During greeting time, we introduced ourselves and were surprised to learn a little more about her. After the service, she reached out to us asking some questions about our family and a connection to her line of work. Our son had a similar career interest and we were curious about her university as he’s looking at colleges this year. It was a nice opportunity to get to know one another further, and little did we realize what God had in store for us. Perhaps a divine opportunity!
After a while, I asked her if she became a Christian in China because she seemed fairly committed to this congregation. She quickly told me that she’s not a Christian. She’s just curious! It took me by total surprise. And, she was very open to learning and hearing more.
And, what an opportunity. Not too long ago a book was published by my friends Dr. Brent Fulton and Dr. Luis Bush called China’s Next Generation. It’s a great resource and very inexpensive. Here’s a quote from the book highlighting the importance of that day in the Church in Japan:
The face of Christianity in China is changing. China’s role in the world is changing. What happens next hinges upon the values, aspirations, and abilities of China’s next generation… We must raise up a new generation… to transform China and the world. We are left without a choice—only an obligation. This is the time. This is the opportunity.
It’s a new day for China, for the Church in China and for the World. We thank the Lord for the harvest that was brought in the past, the maturation of the Chinese church and for the economic strides that have made China the second largest economy in the world. However, if all this is to continue China needs to go to the next level of their maturation and reach the next generation! Now is the time for the Church of China to come together to preserve the harvest so it will last many more generations.
You never know who might be sitting next to you, even in church! It’s worth it to reach out and explore. AND, who would’ve thought a simple question like “Did you become a Christian in China?” could lead to such an opportunity for the gospel.
The opportunities are immense and important, especially with our Chinese neighbors. Check out this infographic showing the stats of where Chinese youth are today.
You can see how crucial it is to reach out to them. They are facing a lot of challenges. And, reaching out is so simple. Here are a few ideas next time you find yourself next to people like this:
- Ask them about their family and where they come from.
- Find out why they live near you and what they are doing.
- Ask what they think about living in your country or your neighborhood.
- Ask what they think about religion. You might be surprised to see how open they are.
- Ask them if you can pray for them. I’ve never had anyone turn me down on that offer!
- Finally, PRAY! Pray for a bridge to ask them if they’ve ever heard about Christ.
- Look for ways to talk about your walk with Jesus and feel free to share your story. Everyone loves to hear stories!
You’ll be surprised at how these simple steps can help you reach those around you. Even just adapting them slightly can work for any of your neighbors or friends, even if they are not from another country.
Finally, for those of you with friends from China, I would highly recommend ChinaSource as a resource as you seek to reach out in the love of Jesus. ChinaSource is the leading place for understanding ministry in China!
If you’d like more ideas on how to reach those around you, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph W Handley, Jr. (@jwhandley) is the President of Asian Access. Previously, he was the Founding Director of Azusa Pacific University’s Office of World Mission and lead mission pastor at Rolling Hills Covenant Church. He co-led one of the first multi-national high school mission congresses in Mexico City in 1996. Joe serves on the International Orality Network leadership team and the board of PacifcLink. He is pursuing a PhD in Leadership at Fuller Seminary. Joe strives to develop leaders for missional movements across Asia.