Christian missionaries are not allowed to work and live in China, but they are here under other guises. Many work as English teachers. Some open businesses. Still others are diplomats who seem to do proselytizing on the side.
Some use guerrilla tactics to proselytize among Tibetan Buddhists, Muslim Uighurs and other minority groups. It’s a little disturbing.
Despite its ban, the Chinese government appears to turn a blind eye to this matter. Perhaps it’s because English teachers are needed. While Christian proselytizers tend to operate all through China, I’ve noticed they are mostly in minority areas – where Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Korean minorities live, where Chinese authorities probably don’t mind if endemic religious influence is diluted..
This might seem just a curiosity. Except that signs are emerging that some young Christians are taking a radical approach to proselyzing.
They travel through China doing what they call “tract-bombing,” passing out literature. For a rather shocking travel diary of some young Christians in remote Qinghai province, click here. An excerpt of this young man’s diary reads:
“Man how blinded these people are. I have never been in more intense prayer in my life. The next moment things got a little harry (sic) because people in our group were getting very bold about where they were placing tracks (sic) and monks were finding them. We then split into two teams because we wanted to shower this place with prayer and tracks and also go to the mountain behind the monastery and plant our cross that we had made.”
I wonder how U.S. Christians would feel if Chinese Buddhists wanted to come to America and in the dark of night build stupas behind churches or light incense on their front steps?
Full disclosure: My grandparents were Methodist missionaries in Fujian province in the 1920s. Moreover, this is a subject of personal interest and observation. Our elder daughter’s school in Beijing seems to have a lot of American kids who are from Mormon families. Once when I was out in Kashgar in China’s far west Muslim region, I came across a modern coffee bar run by an American Christian. I never met him but people in town said it was a Christian hub for trying to convert Muslim Uighurs, a downtrodden people.
Now, I’m sitting in a coffee bar in Lhasa that also appears to be run by U.S. Christians. A conversation with a local foreigner revealed that more than a dozen local English teachers are Christians seeking to convert students, often from their base at the Tibet Social Science Academy.
What’s interesting is that some of these Christians use denial and deception about what they are doing, employing “tradecraft” more commonly associated with spying.
Anyone who can guide me to more information, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with some mention of religion in the message line.