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.

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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.

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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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January 2015 Update

2015 – Happy New Year!! — a new year anticipating where God is going to take us and what He is going to do. PRAY we are open and willing to whatever that is!

Rolf arrived home on the 29th of December and we had him on the go practically from the time his feet hit the ground!. Our youngest granddaughter arrived a few days earlier anxious to pick up Grandpa at the airport. The day after he arrived we had our son and his family here to welcome him home. The welcoming didn’t stop there, because on New Year’s Eve we hosted the main dish for our neighborhood progressive dinner. We were able to enjoy a full and happy celebration of his coming home and the holidays.

Before he left China he celebrated Christmas with 42 of his 60 students. They had a room in a restaurant where they enjoyed a meal together followed by a night of karaoke, which the Chinese love. The Chinese do “celebrate” Christmas with Santa’s and with all the lights and decorations. The problem is most of them don’t know the “real” meaning of Christmas. After dinner Rolf had the privilege of sharing with them what Christmas “really” means by reading to them from the Bible, the Christmas story from the book of Luke. He also gave them a VCD (Chinese DVD) of the “Jesus” film in Chinese.

“As the rain and snow come down from heaven and stay upon the ground to water the earth, and cause the grain to grow and to produce seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry, so also is my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It shall accomplish all I want it to and prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10.11 TLB

PRAY the reading of the Christmas story piqued some curiosity, interest and questions from his students that will lead to deeper discussions and “fruit” that Rolf can follow-up with when he returns.

Rolf also completed his second 12 week “Faith or Fiction” class before he came home and the 6 of them are now ALL Christ followers!! Praise God!

This was a short stay home, he will be returning January 29th. The owner of the school wanted him back to teach an English class during the Chinese New Year vacation for some high school students. Many times the Chinese students use vacation time to take classes to improve their skills in some area. So as he gets ready to leave we would ask for your prayers.

PRAY  for health, stamina & energy, safety in traveling and while he is in China.
Pray that God will continue to meet all our needs, financially, physically, relationally & spiritually.
Pray for guidance and wisdom as he teaches & shares with his students the Good News.
Pray to continue to grow & train new student discipleship groups.
Pray for Sherri taking care of things at home.

We are always and ever grateful and thankful for your partnership with us!

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Now that China Is Number One

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Re-posted from “China Source”

By at least some calculations, the size of China’s economy exceeded that of the United States this month, putting China in first place. Setting aside the fine points of those calculations (which will likely be the subject of much debate for some time to come), it is clear that China’s economic rise has had far-reaching consequences – “including for the Body of Christ” – both domestically and internationally.

For China’s Christians the effects of economic growth have been relentless, especially during the past 15 years of rapid urbanization. The needs of the church have changed dramatically as the church in China has transformed from a largely rural, socially marginalized, financially poor, and politically persecuted minority to an increasingly influential community advancing the Gospel in dynamic ways in China’s major cities. Looking ahead, here are a few areas that we at “ChinaSource” believe are critical to the future of the church, along with how we seek to address these.

China Is Number One 02Leaders that Last

China’s Christian leaders not only need Biblical and theological education and training in ministry skills; to be effective over the long term they also need ongoing mentoring, and they need to be mentoring others. Personal soul care is necessary so that they might remain strong and have the spiritual resources to minister to those whom they lead. Recognizing these needs, “ChinaSource” is partnering with several organizations in the areas of mentoring, coaching, and spiritual formation. Following last May’s “Walking with Leaders” consultation, two coach trainings and a seminar on mentoring have been held in China and Hong Kong. At least three more trainings will be offered early next year, along with a series of webinars featuring experienced practitioners who share their insights about developing leaders in China.

China Is Number One 04Faithful Stewards

A key question as China becomes more prosperous is whether China will also become more generous. During this past year we have been blessed to get to know committed believers who are active in China’s emerging philanthropy and charity sectors. Through the Faith and Generosity in “China Initiative,” we are walking with the Chinese church as it transitions from being a receiving church to a giving church. Together with partners in the publishing, media and training fields we are developing resources that will equip believers to be faithful stewards in all areas of life.

A Christian Worldview

Many Christian parents are seeking an alternative to China’s atheistic state education system, as they believe that giving their children a Christian worldview is critical to the future of China’s church. New models are emerging for Christian education, involving parents and church leaders in China as well as Christian schools outside. “ChinaSource” is helping to facilitate an ongoing dialog about how these entities can work together to write a new chapter in Christian education in China.

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2015 promises to be a pivotal year as we grasp more clearly the nature and implications of China’s new role in the world economy. China’s economic growth continues to bring fresh opportunities for the church, as well as new challenges.

As you celebrate our Lord’s coming this season, remember to pray for brothers and sisters in China as they too celebrate, that China might be a nation that prospers not only economically but spiritually as well.

Prayer Needs:

  • Lift up churches in China as they share the true message of Christmas during this holiday season. May many in China come to know the Savior as a result.
  • Pray for God’s hand upon China’s leaders, that they would make wise decisions and, most of all, would recognize their need for God.
  • Ask the Lord to guard the hearts of Christian leaders who face new temptations as a result of China’s new found economic prosperity.
  • Pray for those who are seeking to equip these leaders for long-term effectiveness.
  • Pray for the development of new training resources to equip Christians in China to steward their relationships, resources, and influence in a manner that glorifies Christ and advances his kingdom.
  • Intercede on behalf of Christian parents, pastors, and educators as they endeavor to equip the church’s next generation with a Christian worldview.
  • Lift up the Missionary teams, that we would be discerning and faithful as we seek to serve the church during a time of momentous change.

China’s One Billion Strong Middle-Class

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Merry Christmas

Basic RGB

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

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