Monthly Archives: December 2018

Why Teaching in China

We are often asked why are you going twice a year on four month short-term missions trips to China to teach? “Why go off to some faraway place? It’s such a burden!”

We are immensely grateful for our ministry partners and friends and their support making it all possible. But burden? Hardly! In the service of the King, nothing is worth enough to be counted as a burden or sacrifice. He is worth everything we have out of the wealth that He gave us and we need to step out in faith.

But back to the question, “Why missions?”  First, because that’s what God told us to do in His commandments:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39
“Go and make disciples of all nations.”  Matthew 28:19

It says in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands” then that’s what we should do.

“Why not serve here? The needs are also great at home with almost every ethnic group right here at our doorsteps.”

A very valid question. But as we’ve explained before, it is because of the very inequitable distribution of supply versus demand. The needs are great everywhere, but the resources available to meet those needs have a very skewed distribution. In round terms, for every 100 church goers in the USA, there is 1 Christian worker, including pastors, youth and children’s workers etc. But in China the ratio of congregation to ministry staff is 10,000 to 1, 100 times greater than at home. If you compare the ratio of the unchurched to Christian workers, the ratio is even greater, because the Christian population as a % of total population in China is very small. Now if you see people needing assistance, one serving 100 and the other serving 10,000, who do you help? For us, the answer is clear, the latter, even though it means some inconvenience and getting a little out of the comfort zone.

“Why teach over there? The standard of people here is much higher; they’ll comprehend and appreciate it more.”

Good question. I have a business management background and since we always labor with limited resources we look for opportunities where we have the greatest leverage to maximize returns. In our mandate from the Lord, the command is to make “disciples.” How do you make disciples of all nations? According to Matthew 28:19-20 by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  In other words, by incorporating them into the Body of Christ, and teaching them to obey and love the Lord. Praising God, praying incessantly and being good stewards are important, but they won’t help us fulfill our mandate.

“Why over in China?” It’s back to the supply issue. But more importantly, it is the “obedience” that counts. It is true that in general Christians at home are more highly educated and better about to understand concepts, but to obey has to do with the will and the heart, not the mind. We rather teach 100 with primary education who are ready and willing to obey, than 10,000 who are not prepared to commit. That’s why we connect with motivated people who are ready to put what they learned into practice. We believe it’s only by teaching the whole truth and discipling them that we can achieve “spiritual multiplication” to get the job done.

Spiritual addition in ministry is when someone wins other people to Christ, but does not disciple, train, and deepen those converts to go out and do likewise. We are commanded to go and make disciples, not simply converts.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

If you led a thousand people to Christ every year for 36 years, taking each one through basic follow up, how many people would you have reached with the gospel? Answer: 36,000. However, if you led three people to Christ, discipled them, and trained each one to reach three other people, and everyone that was discipled in turn reached three other people each year, then when we multiply the process out over 36 years the number of disciples becomes 1,048,576. That’s exponential growth. That’s “spiritual multiplication.”

This seems to be what the Lord had in mind in the Great Commission, as it makes the completion of the task feasible as it’s doubtful that Jesus expected His disciples to keep up a case load of one thousand disciples a year.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:11-16

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

Spiritual Addition VS. Spiritual Multiplication
Spiritual Multiplication and Stages of Discipleship

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A Message from Wang Yi

A Message from an Imprisoned Chinese House Church Leader

We share a letter from Wang Yi, an imprisoned house church leader, which is representative of countless other Christians whose names we will never know this side of heaven. Please read the letter carefully and share it with other believers as the Lord prompts you. Please pray for the thousands of Chinese house church leaders and their families who are currently going through severe trials.

In October, house church pastor Wang Yi (pictured above with his wife) sat down and wrote a “Declaration of Faithful Disobedience,” as he saw the storm clouds of persecution about to close in on him and his church. He instructed his fellow elders to hold the letter and only release it after he had been arrested more than 48 hours.

That moment came on the morning of Sunday December 9th, when officers from China’s Public Security Bureau raided Wang’s Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. The church leaders were among 100 believers arrested and taken away that morning. Many have not been heard from since. Just before Christmas, a further 60 church members were detained, with some taken into China’s notorious “black jail” system, where people are tortured mercilessly without anyone knowing their whereabouts.

Here is Wang Yi’s declaration:

“On the basis of the teachings of the Bible and the mission of the gospel, I respect the authorities God has established in China. For God deposes kings and raises up kings. This is why I submit to the historical and institutional arrangements of God in China.

As a pastor of a Christian church, I have my own understanding and views, based on the Bible, about what righteous order and good government is. At the same time, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness of their depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience. But changing social and political institutions is not the mission I have been called to, and it is not the goal for which God has given his people the gospel.

For all hideous realities, unrighteous politics, and arbitrary laws manifest the cross of Jesus Christ, the only means by which every Chinese person must be saved. They also manifest the fact that true hope and a perfect society will never be found in the transformation of any earthly institution or culture but only in our sins being freely forgiven by Christ and in the hope of eternal life.

As a pastor, my firm belief in the gospel, my teaching, and my rebuking of all evil proceeds from Christ’s command in the gospel and from the unfathomable love of that glorious King. Every man’s life is extremely short, and God fervently commands the church to lead and call any man to repentance who is willing to repent. Christ is eager and willing to forgive all who turn from their sins. This is the goal of all the efforts of the church in China—to testify to the world about our Christ, to testify to the Middle Kingdom about the Kingdom of Heaven, to testify to earthly, momentary lives about heavenly, eternal life. This is also the pastoral calling that I have received.

For this reason, I accept and respect the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily. As the Lord’s servant John Calvin said, wicked rulers are the judgment of God on a wicked people, the goal being to urge God’s people to repent and turn again toward Him. For this reason, I am joyfully willing to submit myself to their enforcement of the law as though submitting to the discipline and training of the Lord.

At the same time, I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws.

But this does not mean that my personal disobedience and the disobedience of the church is in any sense “fighting for rights” or political activism in the form of civil disobedience, because I do not have the intention of changing any institutions or laws of China. As a pastor, the only thing I care about is the disruption of man’s sinful nature by this faithful disobedience and the testimony it bears for the cross of Christ.

As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world.

For the mission of the church is only to be the church and not to become a part of any secular institution. From a negative perspective, the church must separate itself from the world and keep itself from being institutionalized by the world. From a positive perspective, all acts of the church are attempts to prove to the world the real existence of another world. The Bible teaches us that, in all matters relating to the gospel and human conscience, we must obey God and not men. For this reason, spiritual disobedience and bodily suffering are both ways we testify to another eternal world and to another glorious King.

This is why I am not interested in changing any political or legal institutions in China. I’m not even interested in the question of when the Communist regime’s policies persecuting the church will change. Regardless of which regime I live under now or in the future, as long as the secular government continues to persecute the church, violating human consciences that belong to God alone, I will continue my faithful disobedience. For the entire commission God has given me is to let more Chinese people know through my actions that the hope of humanity and society is only in the redemption of Christ, in the supernatural, gracious sovereignty of God.

If God decides to use the persecution of this Communist regime against the church to help more Chinese people to despair of their futures, to lead them through a wilderness of spiritual disillusionment and through this to make them know Jesus, if through this he continues disciplining and building up his church, then I am joyfully willing to submit to God’s plans, for his plans are always benevolent and good.

Precisely because none of my words and actions are directed toward seeking and hoping for societal and political transformation, I have no fear of any social or political power. For the Bible teaches us that God establishes governmental authorities in order to terrorize evildoers, not to terrorize doers of good. If believers in Jesus do no wrong then they should not be afraid of dark powers. Even though I am often weak, I firmly believe this is the promise of the gospel. It is what I’ve devoted all of my energy to. It is the good news that I am spreading throughout Chinese society.

I also understand that this happens to be the very reason why the Communist regime is filled with fear at a church that is no longer afraid of it.

If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.

Moreover, I must point out that persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians. For the government is brutally and ruthlessly threatening them and hindering them from coming to Jesus. There is no greater wickedness in the world than this.

If this regime is one day overthrown by God, it will be for no other reason than God’s righteous punishment and revenge for this evil. For on earth, there has only ever been a thousand-year church. There has never been a thousand-year government. There is only eternal faith. There is no eternal power.

Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.

Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.

And so, respectable officers, stop committing evil. This is not for my benefit but rather for yours and your children’s. I plead earnestly with you to stay your hands, for why should you be willing to pay the price of eternal damnation in hell for the sake of a lowly sinner such as I?

Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.”

The Lord’s servant,
Wang Yi

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Crackdown on Unregistered Churches

Police have detained dozens of leaders, congregation members and activists of one of China’s most prominent and influential Protestant “house” church in the latest government action against unregistered religious groups.

Police arrested Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church, hailed by Rev. Hong Yujie, a friend of Wang as “the bravest pastor in China”, in the city of Chengdu on Sunday, the day after Wang published a manifesto accusing the Communist Party of instituting “Caesar Worship” of Jinping and calling Chinese Christians to resist government regulations that contradict the Christian faith.

Remaining church members said Wang’s manifesto and his open criticism of China’s religious regulation likely prompted his and 100 of their fellow congregants’ arrests.

“President Jinping’s religious regulations and urged worship of the state are morally incompatible with the Christian faith and with all those who uphold freedom of the mind and thought,” Wang wrote in his manifesto, entitled “Meditations on the Religious War” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Teams of police and state security officials in the southwestern city of Chengdu came to the homes of leaders and members of the Early Rain Covenant Church on Dec. 9 and detained them, according to church announcements sent to members and passed to Reuters by churchgoers and activists.

“The time has come. O, Lord! Did you not establish this church for this very purpose?” the church said in one of its announcements. “We will wait for Thee, as one keeping vigil waits for daybreak.” 

Church leader Li Yingqiang said Early Rain would continue public services, despite the intensified crackdown on unregistered churches, as long as there remained some members of the congregation to engage in worship. Li said that other house churches in Chengdu have faced the raids with similar resolve. Some, like Zion Church pastored by Jin Mingri in Beijing, retreated from public scrutiny and divided into smaller house churches that worship in secret after authorities closed their building and arrested their leaders.

“Some house churches have to sacrifice,” Li said. “We are willing to do it.” More than 100 people are believed to have been detained, according to a church elder, who declined to be identified.

Neither the Chengdu nor national-level Public Security Bureau responded to faxed requests for comment.

Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took office six years ago, the government has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to the authority of the ruling Communist Party. The Chinese regime requires that all places of worship register and submit to government oversight, but some churches have declined to register, for various reasons.

China began implementing new regulations on house churches, state-registered churches, and other houses of worship in February, requiring in part that they register with the state or risk being shut down. The regulations also subject these churches to heightened monitoring and surveillance from local communist authorities, to be implemented at the discretion of those authorities.

The degree to which churches are affected by these regulations depend largely on how local communist authorities choose to interpret the regulations in each region, though they have largely used the new laws to exert more control over churches, even banning children under the age of 18 from attending religious services in several regions. Communist authorities have used the regulations as tools to carry out Jinping’s vision of sinicizing religion in China — which is to force all religions in the country to submit to the authority and teachings of the Chinese Communist party.

Sunday’s raid, while indicative of Beijing’s waning tolerance for unregistered churches, was not the first time Wang and his followers have been arrested. Police arrested the pastor and some congregants earlier in 2018 for holding their annual service in remembrance of Tiananmen Square and the suppression of democracy in China.

Wang, however, remains undeterred from preaching against the injustices of Jinping’s administration. The Early Rain Church is one of the best known unregistered “house” churches in China. Wang, a former legal scholar, activist, and founder of Early Rain, was the first pastor to sign a public petition organized by Early Rain against those regulations.

Members of the church have been unable to contact Pastor Wang Yi, the church’s founder, or his wife, and church groups on the instant messaging platform WeChat also were blocked, the church said in an announcement. Reuters was unable to reach Wang for comment.

Beijing-based journalist Ian Johnson, who wrote about Wang and his congregation in his 2017 book, “The Souls of China,” said on Twitter that the crackdown was “really disturbing news.”

“I’m afraid this is part of a bigger crackdown on unregistered Christian churches as the government pushes its efforts to dominate society,” he wrote.

Police told Zhang Xianchi, 84, a well-known author and church member, not to visit the church, because it had been “outlawed” and that all its top leaders had been detained, according to an account from Zhang shared with Reuters by church members.

A video posted online by activists in China and overseas, which Reuters was unable to independently verify, showed a group of about a dozen plainclothes policemen taking church-goers away from a meeting. In the footage, police told a woman they were taking a man to the municipal public security bureau to be investigated, while a child cried in the background.

Churches across China have been under growing pressure to register since a new set of regulations to govern religious affairs came into effect in February and increased punishments for unofficial churches.

Despite ongoing arrests and torture of Chinese Christians after a raid on an independent church Sunday, the faithful are vowing not to bow to the Communist party “even if it means death.”

“I think a lesson we can learn from them is they continue to say that, ‘No matter what may come, we will continue to serve the Lord. We will continue to stand strong in our faith,’” said Gina Goh, Southeast Asia regional manager for International Christian Concern.

“Their pastor, a lot of elders, actually wrote letters to their congregation saying that, ‘We will not bend, even if it means jail, even if it means death. We will continue to preserve our faith,’” Goh told Baptist Press Tuesday.

Authorities reportedly blocked the social media accounts of Early Rain members and cut the phone line to the church as the raid got underway. One witness claimed that Chinese police had tracked down church members using the signals from their smart phones.

According to Goh, officials had beaten, tortured, and denied food and restroom accommodations to the Christian detainees. Some of the Christians were dragged along the ground, stepped on, bound to chairs, and had handfuls of hair pulled from their scalp, she reported.

Some of those arrested have been placed under house arrest while others have been set free. Officials told a number of the faithful to sign pledges that they would never attend services again.

“The police said our church is an illegal organization and we cannot attend any more gatherings from now on,” said member Zhang Guoqing after being released from detention.

Since the Sunday raids, arrests of church members at homes, workplaces, and on the streets have continued.

The latest crackdown on “illegal” churches that operate outside strict government control is another example of President Xi Jinping’s attempts to “Sinicize” religion, making all religious practice conform to the ideals and principles of Chinese communism.

In September, authorities interrupted services at some five churches in central, south, and southwest China, pulling down crosses, blocking entrances, disbanding worship, and harassing church members.

One elder of the Early Rain Covenant Church who was arrested early Tuesday wrote a letter before his arrest to other church members who were still at large.

“Beloved brothers and sisters, I am writing this letter in hiding,” he said. “May you all be filled with joy in the Gospel of Christ. May you welcome, filled with hope, the even heavier cross and more difficult lives that lie ahead of you. Christ is Lord. Grace is King. Bear the cross. Keep the faith.”

Goh said that the Chinese government is engaging in more overt persecution of Christians on a broader scale than in the past.

“This is not completely new, but for something that is this large-scale, it is new for sure,” Goh said. The goal of the Communist party is to force Christian churches into allegiance to the state-controlled Three-Self Church, whose congregations must display government flags, sing patriotic songs, and praise government leaders, Goh said.

Goh also said that officials had targeted the popular Autumn Rain Church to “serve as an example to smaller churches,” since in its several locations it comprises a membership of a thousand members or more.

In testimony at a U.S. Congressional hearing in Washington in late September, China Aid founder Bob Fu compared Chinese Communist Party (CCP) persecution under President Xi Jinping to the days of Mao Zedong.

“The CCP’s policies and principles for the management of religious affairs are returning to those evident in Mao’s era,” Fu said.

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

China Bans Religion For 90 Million People
China Charges Pastor with ‘Subversion’ After Church Raids

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PetroDollar vs. PetroYuan

Beijing launched a “crude oil futures contract” denominated in the “Chinese yuan” on March 26, in a move that could significantly enfeeble the international influence of the United States dollar.

The contract lets foreign investors buy and sell crude oil on the Shanghai International Exchange with yuan rather than dollars. Reuters said it “kicked off to a roaring start,” with 15.4 million barrels of crude changing hands in the 2½ hours of the first day of trading.

“This could be a death blow for an already weakening U.S. dollar, and the rise of the yuan as the dominant world currency,” economics blog ZeroHedge wrote of the launch.

Since the 1970s, global oil trade has been conducted almost entirely in U.S. dollars, also known as “petrodollars.” The petrodollar system boosts global demand for U.S. dollars, increases international demand for American debt securities, and allows Washington to purchase oil with money it can print at will. Continual conversion of petrodollars into U.S. Treasuries has helped fuel America’s immense deficit spending.

Since China overtook the U.S. last year to become the world’s number one importer of crude oil, Beijing may now be positioned to topple the petrodollar with a “petroyuan.”

Oil-exporting nations remain concerned about the viability of the Chinese currency in the international arena. The concerns center on the fact that the Chinese government routinely interferes with the machinations of local commodity markets. And the nation is not a market economy.

But for some major oil exporters, the desire to end the era of American dominance may override these concerns.

Since 2015, Russia and Iran have both taken steps away from the dollar and toward the yuan. Last September, Venezuela signaled its willingness to abandon the dollar by publishing some prices for its oil in yuan. And in January, Pakistan approved use of the yuan for bilateral trade.

But China is unlikely to topple the petrodollar without participation from the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. Procuring that participation is high on Beijing’s priority list.

“China is now trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to start accepting the yuan for its crude oil,” wrote international oil economist Mamdouh Salameh.

This attempt was most evident in March 2017 when Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz traveled to Beijing and reports emerged saying China could become the primary investor in the forthcoming initial public offering of Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company. At an estimated $2 trillion, Aramco would be the world’s highest-valued firm, and China looks set to buy a substantial share of it.

If China buys the share and is able to use its unmatched purchasing power to persuade Saudi Arabia to accept yuan for crude purchases, the global shift toward the yuan would accelerate.

“If the Chinese succeed, other oil exporters could follow suit,” Salameh wrote. “For Saudi Arabia, it will find itself between a rock and a hard place—lose the Chinese oil market or spark the ire of Washington.”

Less than a year after China launched an oil futures contract denominated in the Chinese currency, the contract is beginning to be embraced by global commodities traders. The Chinese Communist Party has long desired to see the United States dollar sidelined and the Chinese currency, the yuan, take on a more central role in global finance.

Trading volumes for the new Chinese oil futures contract have already surpassed contracts traded in Tokyo, in Singapore, and those of the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, making it the world’s third-most popular benchmark.

“The Shanghai contract has become an unexpected thorn in the side of the main Western benchmarks,” said Stephen Innes, chief of Asia-Pacific trading at futures brokerage Oanda in an October 17 interview with the Nikkei Asian Review The pace of expansion has been explosive.”

Due to the success, “China will now pursue de-dollarization head-on,” wrote Project Syndicate on December 3. “As more of China’s oil imports come to be priced in its domestic currency, foreign suppliers will have more renminbi-denominated accounts with which they can purchase not only Chinese goods and services, but also Chinese government securities and bonds.” China’s capital markets are likely to be strengthened by the measure, the article stated, and this trend will “promote the renminbi’s internationalization—or at least the progressive de-dollarization of the oil market.” (Renminbi refers to China’s currency, the primary unit of which is the yuan.)

Meanwhile, Charles Gave, chairman of Hong Kong-based Gavekal Research, told the Nikkei Asian Review, “The likelihood is that in the fairly near future China will seek to stop paying for its oil in U.S. dollars.”

Since the 1970s, international oil trade has been conducted overwhelmingly in U.S. dollars, sometimes referred to as “petrodollars.” This system increases worldwide demand for U.S. dollars and American debt securities, and it also allows the U.S. to buy oil with funds it can print at will. Decades of converting petrodollars into U.S. Treasuries has helped fuel America’s reckless deficit spending.

The Chinese have long sought to replace the petrodollar with a “petroyuan.” Now its yuan-denominated oil futures contract is being embraced by more global commodity traders. “If the dollar is devalued, inflation will almost surely result—and eventual economic collapse for the United States.”

The final result could be a death blow to the U.S. dollar and the American economy.

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Smile to Pay in China

Cash is at times hard to find in today’s China, where QR codes are in use at virtually all shops and roadside stalls throughout the nation.

Nowadays, a quick scan using the WeChat or AliPay app on your smart phone is all it takes to make an instant payment, saving you from the hassles of tending the exact amount or ending up with a pocket full of filthy coins.

Now Chinese tech giants want to make that process even simpler: without even the need for a smart phone, all you might need to do is glance at a camera before you are free to go with your shopping. This could even be of particular use when your phone is running out of power or you find yourself somewhere with poor cellular coverage.

Alipay has recently released its latest facial scanning payment product, Dragonfly, which slashes access and installation costs for merchants by 80% compared with the previous generation.

Seeing the huge potential in facial recognition payment, Tencent’s WeChat Pay and UnionPay, the other dominant players on the Chinese market, are also gearing up to roll out their solutions.

Just like Apple’s Face ID, a facial recognition system developed for the iPhone and iPad Pro, similar systems allow biometric authentication for making payments.

Cameras, sensors, algorithms and processing speed are the keys to a system’s effectiveness. One sensor projects a grid of small infrared dots onto a user’s face, and a camera reads the resulting pattern and generates a 3D facial map and compares it with the registered face using a secure subsystem, which can recognize faces with glasses, clothing, makeup, and facial hair, and is even able to adapt to changes in appearance over time.

Xue Hongyan, director of the internet financial center under the Suning Financial Research Center, told the Beijing Business Daily that facial payment could free users from their mobile phones and elevate their ease and experience when shopping.

However, just as when QR-code-based payments set out to replace hard cash, some are skeptical about the privacy and security of the pay-with-your-face fad.

While settling a bill is as easy as a simple glance, information about one’s face, gender etc is collected by a vendor and payment facilitator, which can be easily leaked if not managed properly.

Risk of false positives are also a concern, and questions are being asked about what if someone wears a convincing facial mask of another one to make the victim to pay for the bills? And how about twins?

For those who are willing to pay via facial recognition but have doubts, combined verification such as setting up an additional pass code is recommended to beef up the security of their bank accounts.

“Millennial’s always love to embrace new technologies, but there are risks. But for those conservative types who stick to cash and think it’s the safest way, there are also risks of fake banknotes or simply losing your wallet,” noted a participant on a forum managed by the People’s Daily.

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25 Years of Ministry

1993 -2018

God is moving in China. Despite what you may have heard about the systematic suppression of Christianity by the government, openness to Christ exists among the Chinese people. Christian churches are thriving. Our church overflow area has hundreds of people standing at the front door trying to hear. People start to arrive at 4:30 am and by 6 am the sanctuary is full with people praying for the 8:30 am service. If only churches at home were so full of spiritually hungry men and women!

Rolf is going back late spring 2019 to increase the number of local outreach teams to continue the dramatic growth. All that is needed now are the resources to get them into the hands of those who desire to know the Lord. This is truly an incredible opportunity while the doors are still open to reach the people hungry for the truth. Would you be willing to help?

You may be like one of our supporter who said, “Rolf and Sherri, we get your ministry letter every month and were are praying for you…but you need to be more specific when you say you need money for the ministry!”

Well, that’s an invitation we hardly can refuse. When all is set and done, it costs us $6000 each month to keep the ministry going. Yes, it costs money to travel to China twice a year and stay each time for four months to serve the Lord and work the neglected fields with our local co-workers. That’s everything, from air travels, conference/training meetings, equipment and supplies, materials for discipleship/evangelism, salaries, health insurances, apartment rental and auto/rail expenses to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with men and women to impact their lives for eternity.

I don’t know about you, but it’s always easier for us to see support in bite-size pieces. For instance, if 60 people commit $100 per month it would cover all our expenses for the coming year. It gets even easier to reach the budget goal if 120 people participate each with a monthly gift of $50. Maybe you can only give a gift of $25 or $10 a month. That is also great. With God’s blessing, together we can make it happen every month. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with so little when we all rally around God’s projects.

God provides for the ministry of International Ambassadors for Christ through “gift giving strategies.” If God is leading you to make a special end of the year contribution, or if you would like to begin monthly investments in our ministry please make your tax deductible check payable to “International Ambassadors for Christ” and mail it before December 31 to: P.O. Box 545, Saint Charles, IL 60174-0545 USA. It will make a large impact in China. We appreciate your prayerful consideration.

God is working in China. We could never have imagined the day would come celebrating 25 Years of Ministry training, teaching, mentoring, motivating and encouraging leaders. Please prayerfully consider how you might be a part owner in reaching spiritually hungry men and women in China. Thank you for your faithful prayers, encouragements and sacrificial support to make this all possible.

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

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Unmonitored Access to Tibet

Two Chinese paramilitary policemen patrol near the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

The “Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act of 2018” calls for US diplomats, media and others to be allowed into Tibet unmonitored.

Tibet’s government-in-exile cheered the US Senate’s passage of an act demanding US diplomats, journalists and other Americans be allowed to freely visit Tibet, but Beijing warned President Trump if he signs it into law, “China-US ties and cooperation in major areas” could suffer retaliation.

The “Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act of 2018” includes preventing Chinese officials receiving US visas if they are involved in blocking Americans from Tibet.

“The Act interferes in China’s domestic affairs with reckless disregard for facts, and goes against the basic norms of international relations. We urge the US administrative bodies to take immediate measures to stop it being signed into law, so as to avoid impairing China-US ties and cooperation in major areas,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Dalai Lama.

China’s retaliation may include denying some US officials from receiving visas to China, reported Beijing’s Global Times. The Senate passed the act on December 11 after approval from the House of Representatives in September.

The Senate’s passage of the act was “a triumph today for American citizens, including lawmakers, activists and human rights advocates concerned about the decades-long repression in Tibet,” said Tibet’s government-in-exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), based in Dharamsala, India.

“The Chinese government continues to violate the Tibetan people’s basic freedoms, arrests them for such crimes as celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday, tortures them for protesting peacefully and even murders them if they try to flee into exile,” the CTA said earlier.

“Hundreds of Tibetan prisoners of conscience are locked up in Chinese prisons, where torture is endemic, and have no access to any meaningful legal defense,” it said.

“Countries should provide equal rights to one another’s citizens,” said the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), which pushed the act’s passage.

“Chinese citizens, journalists from state-sponsored propaganda outlets and bureaucrats of the Chinese Communist Party travel freely throughout the US and lobby the American government on Tibetan issues,” the ICT said in a statement.

“China invariably rejects applications from journalists, diplomats, political leaders and rights monitors unless they are officially invited for strictly chaperoned tours to theatrically prepared sites, or otherwise known for their unabashed support for its rule in Tibet,” the Tibetan Review reported.

“Tibetan citizens of the United States are subjected to particularly severe restrictions when applying for visas. The new legislation particularly emphasizes access for these categories of visitors,” said the India-based Review, which opposes China’s “occupation” of Tibet.

“This bill requires the Department of State to report to Congress annually, regarding the level of access Chinese authorities granted US diplomats, journalists and tourists to Tibetan areas in China,” a summary by the US Congress said.

“No Chinese individual who is substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas may enter the United States,” if Americans are blocked, Congress’s summary said.

Opponents of China’s 1959 seizure of Tibet say Beijing’s current maps show a truncated area described as the Autonomous Region of Tibet. Other parts of Tibet’s larger former territory have been given to neighboring Chinese provinces.

But “The Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act of 2018” includes the dismembered “Tibet Autonomous areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu provinces.” Qinghai province, for example, includes the mountainous Amdo region where the current 14th Dalai Lama was born or “reincarnated” into poverty in the isolated Takster village.

Chinese officials renovated his childhood home in Takster and installed a CCTV security camera monitoring anyone who comes close, according to a journalist who found the home’s wooden gate locked earlier this year. A sympathetic neighbor warned him to leave because police could arrest foreign visitors.

The Dalai Lama, who said in a 2015 speech “I am Marxist,” travels the world supporting Tibetan culture, Buddhism and human rights. He resides in self-imposed exile in McLeod Ganj village in the Himalayan mountains above Dharamsala, India, after fleeing Tibet in 1959 fearing imprisonment or execution by the Chinese.

China’s wariness about allowing Americans unrestricted access into Tibet may stem from the US Central Intelligence Agency’s multi-million dollar secretive guerrilla war in Tibet during the 1960s.

Assisted by the CIA, Tibetans were trained in Colorado and parachuted into Tibet in a lost fight against the Chinese.

“The goal was to keep the dream of a free Tibet alive while harassing the Chinese Red Army in western China,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winner Tim Weiner in his 2007 book “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.”

The CIA also “paid an annual subsidy of some $180,000 directly to the Dalai Lama, and it created Tibet Houses in New York and Geneva to serve as his unofficial embassies,” Weiner said.

In 1972, President Nixon abruptly stopped the CIA’s assistance to Tibetan guerrillas when he visited Beijing and shook hands with then-Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong, paving the way to normalization in relations in 1979.

Today in Tibet, “residents of both Chinese and Tibetan ethnicity are denied fundamental rights, but the authorities are especially rigorous in suppressing any signs of dissent among Tibetans, including manifestations of uniquely Tibetan religious belief and cultural identity,” New York-based Freedom House said in its Freedom in the World 2018 report.

China’s “policies encourage migration from other parts of China, reducing the ethnic Tibetan share of the population,” the report said.

“China’s repression in Tibet includes keeping out those who can shine a light on its human rights abuses against the Tibetan people,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said while sponsoring the act.

“We should not accept a double standard where Chinese officials can freely visit the United States while at the same blocking our diplomats, journalists and Tibetan-Americans from visiting Tibet,” Rubio said.

China insists it “liberated” Tibet from a repressive, feudal rule dominated by Tibetan Buddhist lamas and wealthy nobles, and later stopped Beijing’s destructive policies against Tibet committed during Mao’s disastrous 1965-75 Cultural Revolution.

Tens of thousands of foreign and Chinese tourists visit Tibet each year. Lhasa, the capital, has been modernized with an influx of Chinese Han residents and linked to other cities with a high-speed train.

China also uses Tibet’s high mountains as a strategic military position against possible hostilities with India to the south. The two countries fought a brief border war in 1962.

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China 40th Anniversary Speech

In a keynote address, Xi says political reform in China is not an option while economic reform will proceed with “socialism characteristics.”

They came, they saw and they left comforted by the power of the Communist Party. Polite applause punctuated the copiously choreographed Xi Jinping show to celebrate China’s rise to economic superpower status.

But the rich rhetoric was tempered with a sharp reminder to the West that the road ahead will be paved with CCP slogans.

Naturally, there were the usual pledges by President Xi to continue the “reforms” and “opening up” policies initiated under late Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978. After all, this was the 40th anniversary.

With the Party elite hanging on every word of his keynote speech in the grandiose Great Hall of the People, he reiterated that Beijing will not deviate from its one-party system or bow to pressure from the country’s main trading partners.

Political reform is not an option while economic reform will proceed with “socialism characteristics” Xi pointed out.

“The great banner of socialism has always been flying high over the Chinese land.

The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.

No one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done. We must resolutely reform what should and can be changed, we must resolutely not reform what shouldn’t and can’t be changed.”

While he did not directly refer to the United States and the fragile trade war truce, the implication was there.

Foreign competition

His remarks will also resonate with the European Union.

The EU has constantly complained about “promise fatigue” when it comes to the pace of further opening up the world’s second-largest economy to foreign competition.

“Xi is talking about the need for a strong government, big and powerful state-owned enterprises and large-scale investment,” Zhang Lifan, a political commentator and an outspoken critic of Beijing, said. “It seems his thinking on this has not changed.”

During a speech lasting nearly 90 minutes, Xi highlighted the role of the “state economy” while calling for increased development of the “private sector.”

But there was nothing new to ease growing concerns about the country’s centralized model with the Communist Party at the heart of “everything.”

Indeed, this approach of heavy government-backed subsidies to sprawling state-owned enterprises, and the administration’s perceived involvement in China’s new wave of tech companies, simply acted as a catalyst to the bruising trade conflict with the US.

Add alleged intellectual property violations and cyber theft, and you have a toxic mix which has resulted in the stand-off between Washington and Beijing.

“Despite promises of the importance of the speech, very little new was announced, particularly given its similarity to parts of Xi’s speech at the Politburo meeting a few days prior,” Jonas Short, the head of the Beijing office of brokerage Everbright Sun Hung Kai, told Reuters.

It also failed to address a slowdown in growth which will be the main talking point at the Central Economic Work Conference in Beijing during the next few days.

Last week, a myriad of data released by the National Bureau of Statistics highlighted the problems facing Xi’s administration as manufacturing activity declines and consumer spending shrinks.

Weakening growth

Tax cuts have already been penciled in for middle-class shoppers hit by stagnating wages and rising prices.

To underlined the depth of weakening growth, new car sales have stalled while statistics reveal the property market is cooling after being squeezed by tighter credit restrictions.

In part, these are byproducts of the trade conflict. But they are also symptoms of government policy to realign the overall economy.

Caught in the middle has been the private sector with small- and medium-sized companies struggling to survive amid mixed signals from Beijing.

“What is the fundamental problem? Fear of policy uncertainty, fear that the government is not trustworthy?” Xiang Songzuo, an economist at Renmin University in Beijing, told a forum at the weekend.

Xi Jinping’s speech marking 40th anniversary of Deng’s reforms a fest of Party/socialism achievements – “it takes a good blacksmith to make good steel” – and usual peaceful-rise riff – #China “will never seek hegemony”. Classic Xi. No crumbs for reformers of any stripe. — Robert Ward (@RobertAlanWard) December 18, 2018

On Monday, the People’s Bank of China released a statement stressing that it would step up “support for private and smaller companies,” making it easier for them to access credit.

Indeed, this fits into the Politburo’s key goals for 2019, including pressing ahead with “advanced technology manufacturing,” containing “financial risk” and “shaping a strong domestic market.”

None of those policy moves were mentioned on Tuesday by Xi. But they look certain to be included in next year’s plan following the Central Economic Work Conference along with further commitments to “open up the broader economy.”

“China cannot develop itself in isolation of the world but the world also needs China for global prosperity,” Xi said.

As long as it features “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

China is about to stress test the world
The day China opened its doors to the world
Private fears about China’s private sector

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Christmas in China

According to recent data, in America alone – the average person will spend almost $50 dollars on Christmas lights. Altogether, America is expected to spend $6.5 billion USD on Christmas lights alone.

This year, instead of spending money on lights, what if Christians spent it on sharing the message of Jesus? Instead of spending money to purchase new lights, what if the “Light of the World” was shared with a child in rural China?

The holiday season is upon us yet again, and while most people don’t associate China with Christmas, the holiday is becoming more and more popular in the Middle Kingdom. For the past month, the Christmas spirit has been alive and well here in Beijing – in subway stations, shopping centers, restaurants, and bars all across the city. Everywhere you go, the sounds of “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” follow you.

Department stores are stocked and ready to help people “deck the halls”, with Christmas trees, stockings, tinsel, ornaments, and any other Christmas trinket you could imagine prominently on display. In malls all over town, there are Christmas sales drawing throngs of holiday shoppers. While many people here do not know or understand the history and traditions of this holiday, one thing is clear – they sure love the shopping that accompanies it.

To help get you in the holiday spirit, here are some vocabulary words in Chinese that you’ll need to talk about Christmas:

Christmas Eve (圣诞夜 – shèng dàn yè)
Christmas (圣诞节 – shèng dàn jié – lit. “the birth of a saint holiday”)
Jesus (耶稣 – yē sū)
Santa Claus (圣诞老人 – shèng dàn lǎo rén –  lit. “Christmas old person”)
sleigh (雪橇 – xuě qiāo)
reindeer (麋鹿 – mí lù)
Christmas tree (圣诞树 – shèng dàn shù)
gift/present (礼物 – lǐ wù)
stocking (圣诞袜 – shèng dàn wà)
Christmas carols (圣诞歌 – shèng dàn gē)
caroling (报佳音 – bào jiā yīn)
Christian (基督教徒 – jī dū jiào tú)
midnight mass (午夜弥撒 – wǔ yè mí sā)
gingerbread house (姜饼屋 – jiāng bǐng
candy cane (拐杖糖 – guǎi zhàng táng)
snowman (雪人 – xuě rén)
white Christmas (白色聖誕 – bái sè shèng dàn)
Christmas card (圣诞卡 – shèng dàn kǎ)
“The Grinch” (圣诞怪杰 – shèng dàn guài jié)

While you’re at it, you might as well practice singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in Chinese:

Christmas in the People’s Daily

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China’s New Laws for NGO

Stay up to date on China’s news, regulations, and policies.

New Law for Foreign NGO

The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland of China, adopted at the 20th Meeting of the 12th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on April 28, 2016, is hereby promulgated and shall come into force on January 1, 2017.

Regulation on Religious Affairs (2017 Revision)

Effective date: February 1st, 2018.

Amendment to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China

China’s Constitution was amended March 11, 2018. The terms for the president (chairman) is no longer limited to two terms.

Speech for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx

On May 4, 2018 in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping gives a speech during a conference to mark Karl Marx’s 200th anniversary in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Translated Document Outlines Strategy for Sinicization

A translated document outlines strategy for Sinicization that will adapt religion to China’s socialist society, February 2018.

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

Goodbye to the Religious Affairs Bureau: religions are now under the direct control of the Party
The State of Religion in China – Council on Foreign Relations
New Era for Religion in China as Party Tightens Controls
Religions Must be “Subordinate” to Communist Party

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