Frequently Asked Questions??
by Phil Martin
It seems to me that about five questions always arise about doing missions in china. It also seems to me that when this happens, it is time for some frequently asked questions.
Isn’t Christianity illegal in China?
Technically no, Christianity as a religion is legal. What is illegal is meetings of Christians in a non-government sanctioned church. These churches are often called “underground” churches or “house” churches. They are not actually underground, and are increasingly operating without any secrecy or persecution concerns. The churches we will be a part of are unregistered churches, but they function with very little interference or persecution.
If it is illegal, isn’t it dangerous?
The basic rule of thumb is that almost everything is illegal in China. From minor driving offences to sex trafficking, very many illegal activities are never controlled and laws are not enforced. When there are problems, it is usually not because of the activity itself, but because of the perceived threat to the government. For Christians this means that they are free to meet as a church, evangelize, and hold events as long as they do not offend or scare the local officials. In addition, as American citizens the worst that can happen to us is that our visas will be revoked.
I have a friend that is teaching English in China, and doing missions work while they are there. Will you be teaching English?
No, we do not plan on teaching English while we are there. Teaching can be an easy way to get into the country, and serves as a potential platform for evangelism. However, for long term church planting work, it is not the best arrangement. Your friend that is teaching English in China is great and you should support and pray for him/her.
If you are not teaching English, how will you get a visa? China doesn’t have a missionary visa, does it?
No, but the requirements for a tourist Visa are fairly lax. We are planning to go on a one year tourist visa with 90 day stays. This requires us to make a short trip out of the country every 3 months. In practice this means that we will fly to South Korea or Hong Kong for a weekend away every three months.
I heard there are millions of Christians in China, do they still need missionaries?
There are many, many Christians in China. The best estimates are between 40 and 70 million altogether. However, China is a very big country. 40 million is only 3% of the population. Of that number, many are concentrated in certain areas, others do not have sound theology, and others lack biblical leadership. The reality is that 9 out of 10 Chinese people have never heard the gospel and may have never even met a Christian.