China is the World’s second largest economy and it is expected that China will overtake America to become the next super power of the World. The number of Christians in Communist China is growing steadily and it is predicted that, by the year 2030, China will have more churchgoers than America.
I first came to China during the year 2000 and many New Apostolic Church members always ask me, “What is it like to be a Christian living in China?” There is no simple or short answer, and the answer changes with every year that passes. When I first came to China, more than a decade ago, I would have told you that it is extremely lonely and depressing to be a Christian in this country. I was told to stay away from our Chinese New Apostolic members and, at the time, I had no Foreign New Apostolic Brothers and Sisters in the City I lived in. There was not even a Priest, who could serve me with Holy Communion. All I had, was a “Bread Letter” and Consecrated Holy Communion.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was, and still am, extremely grateful for this experience, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was better than being completely isolated from Word and Sacrament, like so many of our Chinese brothers and sisters are, and secondly, the experience of being alone in my university dormitory room on a Sunday morning, reading a bread letter and serving myself with Holy Communion, brought me so much closer to God.
When all the ‘bells and whistles’ are stripped away, all that is left is you and your God. You have to really intensify your faith and your prayers and truly activate your Holy Spirit, in order to eliminate the distance you feel from the Altar and His presence. This experience will always remain with me. During the times that I went back to my home country and attended a “normal” divine service, it was a struggle to not become emotional. I remembered thinking to myself “if only I can go home, just for a Sunday, and come back….” I started to appreciate every little thing, even just travelling to a church building, having a doorkeeper greet me as I enter the congregation, being able to sit on a church bench and fold my hands and pray. This is what I would fantasize about on a Sunday morning.
After a few years passed, things got a bit better. I was no longer the only Foreign New Apostolic Christian and being in fellowship with other Foreign New Apostolic brothers and sisters, allowed us to share our burdens – “A shared burden is half a burden”. Then of course, as a young person in the youth, I really missed attending youth activities. I am not talking about just “fun activities” with zero spiritual meaning, but activities like, visiting the sick or the elderly and singing for them. Having fellowship with retired office bearers and listening to their experiences of faith, relaxing with the youth on a Friday night and singing hymns like “The Lord is my light….” To me, these were normal youth activities, but in China and Asia, youth activities seem to take on a more “cultural feel”, rather than spiritual. We had to get accustomed to this as well.
After a year or two, things really started getting more bearable. I decided to get involved in the broader Christian community in China. I was surprised to discover that there was such a huge Christian movement in China, among foreigners and Chinese, alike. You might be surprised to hear that, on numerous occasions, Chinese came up to me to testify about the Gospel of Christ. Once I was in a taxi cab and the Chinese driver started talking to me about the city and cool places to check out. After a few minutes he asked me if I was Christian. I immediately answered him, saying “Yes I am”. He replied “We are part of one family, God’s family”. You can imagine how touched I was by this.
On another occasion, earlier this year, I was in hospital, it was late at night and I could not fall asleep because of the extreme pain I endured. The Chinese lady in the hospital bed next to me must have heard my sobbing and she turned to me and said “Don’t worry, I will pray to God to give you strength” and she folded her hands, closed her eyes and prayed for me. On more than one occasion while traveling in the bus, together with Chinese people, I overheard conversations about God. I distinctly remember three Chinese ladies, or as we would call them “aunties”. They were sitting in the bus and talking loudly (as aunties normally do) and when I listened to their conversation, I realized that they were actually sharing experiences of faith, as one of them spoke, the rest would confirm by saying “Hallelujah, Amen!”, loud in the bus for everybody to hear!
I have even been approached in shopping malls by Chinese asking me if I have heard the “Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. I would respond by saying: “Yes I have, but you can remind me and tell me ……”.
The development of Christianity since I first arrived in China until now has been astronomical. More and more Christian churches and denominations have been successful in negotiations, for recognition, with the Chinese Government and Religious Affairs Bureaus on various levels.
Looking back, one thing I have realized is that, I might have originally come to China for higher education purposes, but it turns out that I learned more about my faith than anything else. A Catholic brother, whom I met here in China, once said, “God is in China, I feel that China is a training ground for me, to train me in my faith”. I could not agree with him more.
To answer the question, “What is it like to be a Christian in China?” Today my answer is, I have never felt closer to God than I have felt here in China. Living in China brings you back to the basics of our faith. When I look at the New Apostolic community internationally, I realize that so much of our values have changed. Nowadays posting a “selfie” with an Apostle or the Chief Apostle seems to be more important than remembering and sharing the word that they have preached.
So simply said: Yes, it is still extremely hard and challenging to practice our faith in this Communist country, but at the same time, because of all of the challenges, I make countless experiences of faith, thereby feeling God’s nearness, and that is a great comfort. My prayer and hope for the future is that God’s work can grow from strength to strength in this vast country of Communist China. For now, being involved with the broader Christian community in China, helps to ease the feeling of abandonment and loneliness due to the absence of access to the New Apostolic Church in China.
Let us all pray together. One Goal, One Faith. Christ Makes Free!
My dear friend I am deeply moved by your experience in finding God. God is not really outside of our selves but in us, yes, God is in our very biology, God exists in our DNA. That’s why Jesus said “The kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21 This is why even when we are alone, no distractions, no external rituals and practices possible, yet in such circumstances we get to know God in a true manner. In Genesis it says “we are made in the image and likeness of the Elohim” Gen 1:27. The apostle Paul says our “bodies are the temple of God” 1 Cor 6:19 He doesn’t say that our mind or heart or thoughts are God’s temple, no, Paul says “our bodies”. God is in our biology! That’s why, as you quoted, “Let them be one…” Here Jesus wanted to say, “Let them realize and know that as you God is in me, and I am in you”, meaning that you God is actually in my biology, in my design, in my being, I Jesus am You, God revealed in the flesh, here, and now? In my very biology you are, You God are part of Me, Jesus, the firstborn (spiritually Me, God manifested in the flesh). This is the great mystery, and you don’t need a formal church building, rituals, activities etc etc to know God, God is busy wanting to produce Himself in us all the time. But only if we consciously allow Him, for we have free will and choice! God bless! Love to all in China!
A Blessing for Others
The Lord knows your story!
You and I, we have been called by God. We cannot yet truly fathom the full scope of what this actually means, but we know that God also knows those whom He calls. God knows us. He knows you and He knows me—inside out. He knows your entire life. He knows your circumstances of life. He knows your past and your present. He simply knows everything about you. He knows every step you take, every thought that crosses your mind. He simply knows everything. He knows your whole story. And because He knows you, He has called you—just as you are, with all your mistakes and weaknesses. Why? Because He loves you. Because He loves me. It’s as simple as that.
What is the objective of His calling? Or in other words, for what purpose have we been called? First of all, He has called us in order to follow Christ. After all, He wants us to enter into His kingdom, and we will get there very easily if we follow the path that Jesus takes, and upon which He invites us to. follow Him: “Come, follow me!” (Matthew 19: 21). And if we follow Him, we will enter His kingdom. We are called to enter the kingdom of God by following the path of Jesus Christ.
But God has also called us for another purpose: we are called in order to be a blessing for others. This is always part of divine calling. God elects people and nations in order that they may be a source of blessing for others (cf. Genesis 12: 2).
We are numbered to a people that has been called in order to proclaim the greatness of God (1 Peter 2: 9). We are called to proclaim the gospel, to be a blessing for our relatives, our friends, our neighbours, our people, and even our country. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, both today and later on in the kingdom of peace. Is this not a wonderful calling, namely to be a blessing for so many? And I will say it again: being called means that God knows your story! He knows you inside out. He tells you: “You can indeed be a blessing for others!” Isn’t that marvellous?
At times we have reservations and slight doubts when we reflect upon ourselves, and we ask ourselves: “How am I supposed to be a blessing? Impossible.” Not so! God has called you precisely because you are you! He has called me because I am me—because you and I can be a source of blessing for others.
Then there is also a third reason for our calling: you are to be a joint heir with Christ (Romans 8: 17)! That means that you will receive the same as Christ! We will share His glory with Him. That is the will of the Father. He wants us to share glory with Him. We were called in order to be joint heirs with Christ. We cannot even imagine what this means. Jesus Christ has overcome hell, death, and the devil—and He wants to share His victory with us!
When we reflect on this dimension of having been called by God—in order to enter into His kingdom—we see that we can indeed be a source of blessing for many other people and that they too can therefore experience the glory of Christ. This is the grace and love of our God. The more we become aware of the grace and love of God, the more we will be aware of what God wishes to give His elected people, and the more we will recognise how great the love of God really is.
(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)
I have read your moving experience as a Christian in China .I cannot agree more that as Christians we should all stand together in unity as we have one goal to live Christ ,as to be a testimony to the world .I was new Apostolic but converted to Catholicism five years ago as my path was miraculously change by Jesus .What an eye opener as with St Paul I gained new sight and vision to see God’s presence in the sacraments as the 1st Christians did especially the Holy Eucharist which is the real body of Christ and not simbolic.I don’t want to preach to you as it was my own experience. My experience being new Apostolic has been very demoralizing at times as I could not agree with the way the new Apostolic church could not stand up against the wrongs of government as was proven in the past Hiltler and apartheid eras.Keeping quiet and not wanting to upset the devil is also a gravely sin especially if it goes with discrimination and human rights violations .In the Catholic Church you are taught to stand your ground even if it means to give your life for Christ.We are taught to be courageous and bold about our faith.To stand up for what is right .As the 1st Christians and Apostles did . I hope the new Apostolic church can do the same . My prayers are with you as we all have to be tested and molded to what God wants us to become . May you experience God’s nearnest every day in that big country.God is in China as we all belong to Him . God bless !! Peace!!!
My WeChat and cell phone: 13670173549, where is the Church in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China?我微信和手机：13670173549 ， 中国 广东省 深圳市 的 使徒教会（教堂） 在哪里 ？？
Unfortunately there are no NAC church buildings in China.
can you send me an e-mail address of the author of this article? I would like to contact her. Thank you very much and kind regards
Social Media Team
Her email address is: email@example.com