Counter Culture

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Counter Culture
By: Erich Bridges, IMB’s Global Correspondent

It’s hard not to “offend” people these days, especially if you actually “believe” what the Bible says about “right, wrong, sin and salvation.”

Fearing the loss of friends, being dismissed as irrelevant, or worse, being called intolerant, many evangelicals jump on the bandwagon of popular social-justice causes, but lapse into uncomfortable silence on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. Some quietly abandon biblical positions on controversial issues altogether.

That path eventually leads to a deeper surrender, however. Because the entire foundation of biblical morality, not to mention the biblical basis of Christian missions, rests on the most “offensive” claim of all: “the gospel itself.”

“The most offensive and counter cultural claim in Christianity is not what Christians believe about homosexuality or abortion, marriage or religious liberty,” writes IMB President David Platt in his new book, “Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Persecution, Abortion, Orphans and Pornography. “

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Instead, the most offensive claim in Christianity is that “God is the Creator, Owner, and Judge of every person on the planet. Every one of us stands before Him guilty of sin, and the only way to be reconciled to Him is through faith in Jesus, the crucified Savior and risen King. All who trust in His love will experience everlasting life while all who turn from His lordship will suffer everlasting death.”

That claim, and the idea that God became a man, died on a cross and rose again to embody it, is foolishness at best, anathema at worst to postmodernists, atheists, secularists, Muslims and other subsets of humanity comprising billions of people. It is increasingly costly, even dangerous in certain places, to proclaim it. Some cultures consider it blasphemy; others call it hate speech. That’s really nothing new if you peruse church history.

The main question for self-proclaimed Christians, Platt suggests, is this: “Do we believe this gospel?”

If we don’t, we should reconsider whether we really follow the Christ revealed in the Bible. If we do, everything else we believe and do must flow from it. We don’t get a pass on the toughest issues engulfing culture today, nor do we get to pick which ones to address. We must counter them all with the revolutionary, uncompromising love of the gospel. Hence the title of Platt’s book.

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The gospel is an “equal-opportunity” offender, as Platt has discovered in his personal spiritual life. He says God convicted him of his own silence about racism and abortion, among other issues. That’s why he’s speaking to other believers now.

“I sense a trend in the church among evangelical Christians — particularly younger evangelicals, but really broader,” he observes.

We have this tendency to pick and choose which cultural issues we’re going to stand up and speak out on and which we’re going to sit down and be quiet on, usually based on those issues that are most comfortable and least costly for us to speak out on. It is right for us to speak out against poverty and sex trafficking, and I’m thankful for increased awareness of issues like that and the way people are speaking out on those issues.

“The danger, though, is if we speak boldly on issues like that, but then when it comes to issues like abortion or so-called same-sex marriage — issues that are much more likely to bring us into contention with the culture around us — we’re much more likely to be quiet. Before we know it, our supposed social justice actually becomes a selective social injustice. … The same gospel that compels us to combat poverty compels us to defend marriage. The same gospel that compels us to war against sex trafficking compels us to war against sexual immorality in all of its forms.”

That kind of consistency won’t win us many popularity contests, but if we back up our words with lives of grace, truth and loving action, we will change culture rather than surrendering to it.

Why court controversy so early in his tenure as IMB leader? Platt began writing the book several years ago, while he was pastor of “The Church at Brook Hills” in Birmingham, Ala. He submitted it to his publisher well before his election by IMB trustees last year. But he remains convinced the time is right for its message to an American church facing fundamental challenges.

“I trust that the Lord led me to write this and knew exactly where I would be when it came out,” he told IMB missionaries and staff in a recent message. “Further, I am completely convinced that these issues are not just American issues … these are global issues … . I want to use any platform the Lord has given to me to strengthen the church in this culture in order that we might send out and support brothers and sisters into other cultures with rock-solid confidence in God’s Word and with wisdom to apply the gospel to these pressing social issues.”

Only servants with that kind of confidence can make a real impact on the world’s lost, who suffer from the worst injustice of all.

“The greatest injustice in the world is the fact that a couple of billion people still don’t have access to the gospel,” Platt says. It is the gospel alone “that has the power not only to change cultures on this earth but to transform lives for eternity.”

“Let’s get down on our knees, then get up from our knees and do whatever it takes, no matter what that means, to set the sails for God to empower limitless missionary teams who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached people for the glory of His name.”

Will you “fast, pray and give” to see this “vision” fulfilled?

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Toxic Work

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The documentary “Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics” follows the stories of young Chinese workers in factories making products for the world’s leading electronics brands.

Heather White and her team spent the past 18 months in China documenting the “chemical poisoning” among workers and the serious “injuries” workers received during the production of cell phones.

Teenage workers become “gravely ill” from contact with the carcinogenic chemical “benzene and n-hexane,” which have been widely used in the production of “smart phones and other electronics.”

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The film, shot below the “radar” in China offers an unprecedented opportunity to meet the young people who are paying the “true cost” of cheap electronics.

The film documents “unacceptable” working conditions throughout “massive” electronics factories in China and the growing “global movement” calling for sweeping change.

The original “trailer” has been viewed by over a million people on YouTube, sparking a “media” campaign with articles in over 400 “newspapers” worldwide.

In a country that “produces” over half of the billions of “cellphones” currently owned worldwide, the “disorganized” status of the electronics industry seems to have “risen” hand in hand with the production of “mobile” devices.

While the film features its share of “undercover” sleuthing, camera crews are “rarely” allowed behind factory walls, the documentary “focuses” on the stories of workers, the majority of whom are teenagers “suffering” from illnesses caused by contact with “carcinogenic” chemicals.

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Heather White.

Heather White, the film’s director and producer as well as “human rights” activist, says the film reveals the relatively unknown “pitfalls” of the smartphone industry.

“There has been almost no media coverage, no articles on what’s happening,” she told TWOC. “I read an article written in 1997 about occupational disease clinics filled with teenagers and I wanted to see if what I read was true.”

Collaborating with several Hong Kong based “Non-Governmental Organizations” (NGOs) that helped secure “compensation” for injured factory workers, White headed into the Pearl Delta and began “walking up and down” hospital halls, chatting with patients who “suffered” from factory related “illnesses or injuries.”

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A camerawoman films as a factory worker waits for treatment in a Pearl Delta Hospital. The worker recently passed away after suffering from benzene poisoning.

“The workers I talked with were so young,” White says. “One person I met was just on winter break from school and thought he’d make some extra money. After one day in the factory, his hand was crushed in a machine.”

Another fifteen-year-old patient, White recalls, lost his “hand” to a machine malfunction after just three days in the factory.

White found that, since she began “visiting” factories as part of her work with corporate “social responsibility” organizations some ten or so years earlier, the “conditions” within factories had deteriorated.

In an effort to save “money and time,” factories now elect to cut down on “maintenance” costs and remove “safety” equipment.

The result: “finicky machines that move quickly rather than safely and might crush or cut a worker’s hand at the unlucky push of a button.”

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Young workers are at particular “risk” for getting assigned the sorts of “hazardous” jobs that need little experience to complete.

Most teenage workers White talked to either operated “machinery or wiped down cellphones” with cleaning solvents.

“The factories have the youngest and least skilled workers in the factory doing these nontechnical tasks, but the chemicals  solvents are really toxic.”

“Benzene,” one of the more popular chemicals found in cleaning products, is a “carcinogenic” chemical that can cause reproductive “abnormalities and leukemia.”

In her research, White found that while benzene can be easily “substituted” out for other “safer” alternatives, the alternatives are often “more” expensive.

“N-hexane,” another common cleaning chemical, “evaporates” around three times faster than conventional solvents.

Workers can “dry” more phones in a workday than if they were to use a less “powerful” cleaner, despite the fact that “contact” with the chemical has been known to cause “nerve damage and even paralysis.”

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As part of her “work “on the documentary, White has been “interviewing” a group of 39 girls who, after being exposed to “n-hexane” for three months, are all now “paralyzed.”

Most of the girls, and the majority of workers White interviewed, had no “idea” that the cleaning solutions contained “hazardous” chemicals.

Kevin Slaten, program coordinator at China Labor Watch, said in an interview with the Guardian, “When workers come to these factories they deal with harmful chemicals every day and they need to be educated about them.

Unfortunately training in most factories is not adequate with some receiving as little as 10 minutes pre-job rather than the 24 hours legal requirement.”

With 12 million workers in the “electronics” sector in China, that’s around the number of people who live in the state of Illinois, and an ever growing “demand” for smart phones, White believes that there needs to be a greater consumer focus on “ethically” made mobile devices.

White points out that consumer attitudes can have a significant impact.“Apple, Samsung, all these brands listen to their customers. Consumers are in a position where they can request that their cellphone companies adopt stricter standards and comply with laws.”

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White,second from right, sits with Zhang Tingzhen and his sisters. Zhang lost half his brain after surviving an electric shock and fall at a factory that produces Apple products.

Earlier this year, in response to the recent “media” attention on hazardous working conditions, Apple said it would begin “banning” the use of chemicals like “benzene” in the assembly of iPhones and iPads.

White cautions, however, that Apple has so far only banned benzene use in its “first-tier” suppliers. Subcontractors can still use the “dangerous” solvent, meaning two-thirds of Apple’s suppliers have remained “unaffected” by the company’s ban.

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“Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics” aims to continue bringing “attention” to the issue of “worker’s rights” in hopes of further “persuading” cellphone companies to provide “safe and healthy” labor conditions.

The film, which recently “surpassed” its funding goal of 218,000 RMB on the “crowdsource” site Indiegogo, is currently moving into its “post-production” phase.

A nine-minute trailer for the film is available on Youku and its YouTube post has already garnered over a million views.

To read a recent “press” article about our film go to Public Radio International.

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Shi Zengqiang, on the right, is the father of a 15-year-old worker at Chinese manufacturing company Pegatron who died of pneumonia. He holds a banner at a news conference in Beijing on December 16, 2013.

Bad Apple – End Smartphone Sweatshops
Apple has mind-boggling $178 billion in cash to spend
Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics is on Facebook.

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Religious Freedom

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China Most Restrictive of Religious Freedom
by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

In a new report by the Pew Research Center, China leads the pack of the world’s 25 most populous nations in government restrictions on religion.

The study, which appraised 198 countries around the world, is based on the newest global data on religious freedom, from 2013.

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Chinese government “continues to perpetrate particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” When the commission released its 2014 Annual Report, it once again recommended that China be designated as a “country of particular concern,” based on what it termed “systematic, egregious, ongoing abuses.”

The US Commission also found that since 2011, “more than 100 human rights defenders from China, many of whom often work on religious freedom cases, were forcibly disappeared, tortured, detained, stripped of legal licenses, or sentenced to prison terms.”

The remarkable fact is that despite ongoing abuse, outlaw religions like Christianity continue to grow in China, with Christians now outnumbering communists in China. Though the Chinese Communist Party is the largest explicitly atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members, it is now overshadowed by an estimated 100 million Christians, a number that increases every year.

According to the new Pew report, the world situation itself is fairly dismal, with 77% of the global population living in countries with “high or very high” restrictions on religion, related to government regulation or hostility by social groups. Part of the cause of this phenomenon is the very high populations in two of the world’s most notoriously restrictive countries: “China and India.”

Populations in both of these countries exceed one billion people, and each of these nations is among the most hostile toward religious minorities.

The religion to face the greatest level of persecution worldwide is Christianity. “Christians were harassed,” the study found, “either by government or social groups, in 102 of the 198 countries included in the study,” which equates to 52% of the countries analyzed, more than any other religious group.

Jewish populations are also experiencing a rise in harassment, with hostilities toward Jews, either by government or social groups, happening in 77 countries, or 39% of the 198 countries evaluated. The Pew Research Center has been carrying out this study for the last seven consecutive years, and in that period harassment of Jews reached a seven-year high in 2013.

The report also found that Jews are “much more likely to be harassed by individuals or groups in society than by governments.” In the case of Europe, Jews experienced harassment by individuals or social groups in 34 of the region’s 45 countries, or just over three quarters of European nations.

Among the regions of the world, the Middle East stands out as the area with the highest level of both government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion. Syria, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia all have “very high restrictions in one of the two categories,” the study found.

The Pew Research Center’s latest report on global restrictions on religion “ranks 198 countries and territories by their levels of government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion.”

Among the countries evaluated, North Korea is “conspicuous” by its absence.

Although sources indicate that “North Korea’s government is among the most repressive in the world, including toward religion,” the Pew Center chose to leave the country out of the study because “independent observers lack regular access to the country.”

This means that it is difficult, if not impossible, “to provide the kind of specific, timely information that formed the basis of this analysis.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

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The Need for Reflection

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Missed Opportunities: The Need for Reflection
By ChinaSource Team

One of China Source’s core values is to be a learning organization. Centuries of Christian involvement in the Middle Kingdom provide a wealth of lessons on what has – and has not – served to advance the gospel in China. To paraphrase an old adage about history, those serving in China today can ignore those lessons and proceed to repeat the same mistakes of previous generations, or they can take these lessons to heart and then go on to make “new mistakes” (providing new lessons for subsequent generations).

At a recent roundtable for agency leaders, ChinaSource asked participants, most of whom had decades of China experience, to reflect on “missed opportunities” during the past 35 years. Their reflections provide valuable food for thought, not only about what could have been, but also about how to anticipate opportunities going forward.

One category of missed opportunities relates to the pace of change in China. As China’s economic development has accelerated during the past decades, the trajectory from remote possibilities to crying needs has become much shorter. The Internet’s profound impact on China’s youth, for example, has progressed in a relatively brief period from being merely an interesting phenomenon to becoming an acute social and spiritual concern. The rapid rise of Christian entrepreneurs and the indigenous church’s growing vision to train and send cross-cultural workers are other examples of opportunities that have seemingly burst upon the scene. While these opportunities have attracted much attention, they have also highlighted the unpreparedness of many established organizations to respond.

A second category of missed opportunity speaks to a lack of capacity building within organizations, particularly in how they relate to the local church. Nearly every need addressed in China over the past three decades has been “urgent,” yet the rush to address these needs has often overshadowed the longer-term task of building organizational infrastructure and nurturing teams that can go the distance. Looking back, organizational leaders noted that they could have spent more time and effort building cross-organizational links, sharing resource networks, and forming partnerships, which would have served to enhance collaboration in today’s relatively more open climate. They noted that more could have been done in the past (and must be done today) to intentionally nurture indigenous leadership. Investing in research, both by the organizations themselves and by Christians with whom they partner in China, was also mentioned as an overlooked area that would have yielded valuable fruit if it had been made more of a priority.

Finally, these organization leaders noted that an emphasis on quantitative measures has precluded the development of other more qualitative indicators to assess whether life transformation is taking place across the organization and through its programs. Whether in theological training or in working with families or business leaders, providing more information or more learning opportunities has not necessarily translated into changed lives. Christian leaders in today’s China may be more knowledgeable than those of a previous generation, yet core issues of character and authenticity continue to surface. This gap, particularly among Christians in the marketplace or other nontraditional ministry settings, is related to the sacred/secular divide that continues to plague both faith-based organizations as well as the church inside China.

None of these missed opportunities was viewed as having been beyond the ability of those serving in China to address. In other words, the opportunities were not missed due to external factors, but rather to internal constraints. These constraints could include a lack of foresight, a short-term or survival mentality driven by a sense of urgency, competing priorities, inadequate awareness of what others (including local Christians in China) were doing, and insufficient time devoted to reflection.

Going forward, these leaders suggested that it would be helpful to have a more systematic means of hearing objectively from Christians in China regarding the actual impact their organizations. An advisory body set up for this purpose could be helpful. They also acknowledged the need to give more consistent attention to personal transformation, beginning with those within their organizations and extending out to those in China whom they serve. In working with local believers, explaining the “why” behind organizational plans and requirements, rather than simply giving instructions, can encourage the development of indigenous leadership.

Perhaps one of the key lessons coming out of this discussion is that it is never too late to reflect. Some opportunities will inevitably be missed, but the act of stepping back and asking why and how this has happened creates valuable space for change, enabling leaders to refocus attention and resources on those things that are most important.

If you are serious about developing leaders, here are two opportunities you won’t want to miss.

Coach Training in Hong Kong and Beijing
Each of these three-day trainings has the same content and curriculum, aligned with the criteria of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). They are designed to help participants go deeper in their understanding and practice of coaching. Participants desiring formal credentialing with ICF can apply this training toward that process.

三天的培训内容及教材相同,并且与国际教练联会(ICF) 的标准相符合。培训旨在帮助参与者对教练有更深的理解和更多的实践。如参与者愿意,此次培训可在向ICF申请资格认证时使用。

March 24-26 三月24日至26日
Location: Hong Kong (English Only) 地点:香港 (英语)
Register with this link 由此链接登记注册 Coaching For Christian Leaders

March 26-28 三月26日至28日
Location: Beijing (Chinese Only) 地点:北京 (汉语)
For registration information please email: info@chinasource.org 请发邮件: info@chinasource.org

Prayer Requests
Pray for efforts (including ChinaSource’s own Chinese Church Voices) to better understand the vision and priorities of Christians in China. May these help to inform the work of outside organizations seeking to partner effectively with the church in China.
Pray for organization leaders as they seek to apply insights gained at the recent roundtable discussion hosted by ChinaSource.
Members of the ChinaSource team are speaking this month at several retreats in Asia for expatriate Christian workers who are coming out of China for the Chinese New Year holiday.
Pray for traveling mercies and for sensitivity to the Lord’s leading as they share.
Pray that church leaders in China would also take time, amidst the myriad pressures of ministry, to reflect on what they are learning.

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February 1015 Update

“2015…a new year anticipating where God it going to take us and what He is going to do. Pray we are open and willing to whatever that is” is how we started our January letter. Little did we know that 5 days before Rolf was to return to China the school would call to tell him, “you need to cool your heels for now and stay home”. Not what we were expecting to hear!

So what happened! Last month we wrote about the Christmas dinner Rolf celebrated with 42 of his students with the reading of the Christmas story and the VCD’s of the “Jesus” film he presented to each of them…someone that was there, who was probably someone that had come with one of the students, reported Rolf resulting in the Religious Affairs Bureau coming to the school looking for him. By God’s grace it was when he had already left to come home so he was not arrested or officially expelled from China! But for now he cannot go back.

So what does this mean? For now we don’t know. What we do know is in the midst of our feeling of loss and sadness we can take comfort in the fact that this was no surprise to God, He still is in control and He still holds our future. We also can take comfort knowing the 15 students from Rolf’s two “Faith or Fiction” classes are going to church regularly and are solid and growing in their faith. We also know those 42 VCD’s will not be wasted and will be used to God’s glory. God’s word “will not return to (Him) empty, but will accomplish what (He) desires.”

In the meantime Rolf stays in contact with his disciples and students via Skype video calls and group chats through the innovative and educational Skype in the Classroom web portal.

In the 12 years we have been ministering in China we always knew this kind of thing was a possibility. Why God allowed it is for Him to know and for us to trust. In mid March we plan to take a couple of weeks to get away as we work through this and wait on God for our next assignment. “He has a purpose for placing us where we are. Instead of wishing that all things happened according to our will, we could say as our Savior did before going to the cross, Not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39. Quoted from Our Daily Bread which ended with “Patient waiting is often the highest way of doing God’s will.”

We need your prayers and support more than ever during this time. So we will end as we began, “2015…a new year anticipating where God it going to take us and what He is going to do. Pray we are open and willing to whatever that is” and PRAY for patience in the waiting.

We cannot say it enough – we are always and every grateful and thankful for your partnership.

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Alibaba

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Thousands of Alibaba employees will be “disappointed” to learn they will not be receiving a “red” envelope full of cash, known as “hongbao” for Chinese New Year from CEO Jack Ma, in what had been a long-time “custom” at the e-commerce giant.

According to a rather “downbeat” letter to employees posted on Ma’s “Weibo” page, despite the fact that the company “raised” $25 billion in its “blockbuster” IPO in September, the past year has been lacking in “exceptional accomplishments.”

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Ma wrote: “The success of our IPO should not be seen as a surprise. It was the accumulated work of 15 years. Aside from going public, objectively speaking we are not so satisfied with our performance in 2014 that we should give out red envelopes.”

Indeed, Alibaba’s latest results were a bit underwhelming: “revenue during the third quarter was 26.2 billion yuan ($4.2 billion), missing estimates of 27.6 billion yuan. Its stock price has fallen over 14% since the IPO.”

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But the latest public show of “frugality” may also have something to do with the “scrutiny” the company has attracted from Chinese “regulators.”

In a white paper last month, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce “accused” the company of not doing enough to keep “counterfeit” goods off its platforms and detailed a meeting held on the subject before Alibaba’s IPO.

The agency later “pulled” its report but that doesn’t mean the company is out of the “dog” house.

Late last week, China’s “National Development and Reform Commission” also said it would begin “investigating” e-commerce businesses‘ “pricing” behavior.

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The “US Securities and Exchange Commission” has also requested information about Alibaba’s “interactions” with the regulator.

As Quartz has reported, the unfolding “drama” shows how much the “fortunes” of even a company like Alibaba’s depends on the “favor” of the Chinese government.

Avoiding a showy Chinese New Year “hongbao” giveaway may be one way to “avoid” stoking the fires.

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Ma concluded his letter thus: “We have the same problems that any large company has. We have the same difficulties that any young company has. The gap between what the world expects from us and our own ability is quite large. We may never be able to change how some people see us, but we can change ourselves.”

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Chinese New Year 101

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The “Chinese Lunar New Year” is the perfect holiday to build “friendships” with Chinese neighbors in your community. This “holiday” is as important to Chinese as “Christmas” is to Americans.

Chinese people living “away” from their homeland often find it to be a “lonely” time, but you can help them “feel right at home and loved.” Don’t let worrying about “making cultural mistakes” keep you from reaching out to your Chinese community.

Here’s some basic “information and ideas” for reaching your Chinese neighbors and friends with “Christ” to get you started.

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The holiday “normally” falls in January or February. The date “differs” each year according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

Celebrations officially last from the “first day until the 15th day” of the Lunar New Year. However, if you include the “special activities” prior to the New Year, such as special “family gatherings” on New Year’s Eve, the holiday count increases even more!

2015 February 19
2016 February 8
2017 January 28
2018 February 16
2019 February 5
2020 January 22

OUTREACH: Throw a party! Invite Chinese students and your neighbors to your church or home for a Chinese New Year’s Eve party.

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This is a time for family and eating. Many of the “food” items eaten at the New Year time have a “special” meaning. For example, “oranges” are considered a symbol of wealth, while “fish” are symbolic of abundance. Plants and food items are the most popular “hostess” gifts during the holidays.

Two “big family meals” take place at Chinese New Year, each one consisting of “dozens” of dishes. The first one is on “Chinese New Year’s Eve” and the other is on the evening of “Chinese New Year’s Day.”

On Chinese New Year’s eve, family members (especially in northern China) participate in making “jiaozi.”

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Jiaozi, a meat dumpling, is the “traditional” food eaten on Chinese New Year.

The jiaozi is “cooked” the following day and will be eaten for “breakfast,” and sometimes for lunch. To many Chinese, eating “dumplings” on the New Year is as important as eating “turkey” on Thanksgiving is to many Americans.

OUTREACH: Invite Chinese students and neighbors to your home/church for dinner. Whether you serve Chinese food or Italian spaghetti, your invitation will open doors of friendship you never imagined.

OUTREACH: Ask your Chinese friends to teach you to make jiaozi or other Chinese food. Ask them ahead of time what ingredients should be purchased and visit an Asian grocery store.

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Millions “jam” Chinese public transportation to get to their “parents’ or grandparents’” homes prior to the start of the holidays, which is why Chinese New Year is often dubbed as “the world’s largest annual mass migration.”

Due to “work” responsibilities or “finances,” not everyone can return home. Chinese New Year, therefore, becomes a special time for “Christians” to reach out in friendship to those who feel “lonely and isolated.”

OUTREACH: Chinese who live abroad often miss the excitement of the holiday and many really miss their families at this time of year. A meaningful way to express interest in their lives would be to simply acknowledge the festival, ask them about the holiday traditions and past family celebrations. This is easy to do as you greet people at the grocery store, clinic, school, etc. This will help open the door for a longer, deeper conversation later.

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Lots of “doorbells” ring on the first day of the New Year as people visit “friends and relatives” to pass along New Year greetings. Some visitors don’t even go “inside” the homes, but merely stop at the door to share a “word of cheer.”

Surprise your neighbors and friends by saying “Happy New Year” to them in their primary language. It’s easy! Just play the “recording and repeat” out loud.

People also exchange greeting cards at Chinese New Year. People “seldom” send cards any “other time of the year,” not even at birthdays. Printable Chinese New Year greeting card are available in English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese characters.

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Visiting neighbors, long lost friends and family is “important” during the holiday. If an adult visits a home that has a “child” – anyone from a baby to a young, unmarried adult – the adult gives a “red envelope” to the child. Inside the “decorative” envelope is money.

OUTREACH: Give a greeting card. Either download one here or make your own out of red construction paper, glitter and glue. Put on something red (the color of new year’s) and take them to Chinese students studying in local colleges, to the Chinese doctor in your community and to other businesses where Chinese work. Whether the Chinese have been in your country for generations or are newly arrived, they will appreciate that you thought of them on their special day.

OUTREACH: Give the best gift! Give Chinese or bilingual Bibles as Chinese New Year gifts. You can purchase these from www.biblica.org or www.bibles.com. If your friend is originally from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, they will be able to read Bibles written in “traditional” Chinese characters. If they are from China or Singapore, they will read Bibles written in “simplified” Chinese characters. You can also order a free bilingual book of Luke while supplies last.

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On New Year’s Day, people usually stay home to “relax and eat” traditional foods.

Some go to temples, burning “incense” to idols on the first day of the festival. Temples visited during the New Year may be “Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian” or any one of many temples built to Chinese “traditional gods.”

Christians worship God and “pray” for His blessings in the coming year at special “church” services. For many believers, this will be the “first” time they tell their families about their “new found faith.”

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The “last” day of Chinese New Year is known both as the “Lantern Festival” and “Yuan Xiao Festival”  (yew-EN-shee-ow.) It “marks” the end of the holiday. People light “lanterns” that float into the night sky or “stroll” through local parks that have large colorful “decorative lanterns” on display.

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Children can make their own paper lanterns by downloading these instructions.

OUTREACH: Decorate your party with lanterns. You can even have your Chinese friends help you make the lanterns. Buy the supplies and make them together.

Chinese New Year 11

At midnight, at the start of the “fifth” day of the New Year, many Chinese set off a “barrage” of fireworks to welcome the “money god” and his arrival on earth for the coming year. Legend says that whoever sets off the “loudest and largest” amount of fireworks “first” will become “rich” during the coming year. The “deafening” fireworks on this night even surpass the “lights and sounds” of New Year’s Eve!

OUTREACH: Get fired up! If fireworks are allowed in your community, set them off along with your Chinese friends on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Watch them smile. Most young Chinese say the fireworks are a fun way to bring in the New Year and do not hold to the superstitions above.

Chinese New Year 12

The “customs” associated with Chinese New Year are “numerous” and can vary slightly from “region to region.”

Pray that God will bless Chinese people around the world during the coming festival and the coming year.
Pray that many will hear of God’s goodness and his plan of salvation.

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