Entry Title: "The Untold Story of China's Protestant Christians"
Name: Jimmy Lam , Singapore
Category and Expertise: Other_ED|Culture|Deeper Perspective, Professional


Entry Description: Many still think that the officially atheist Communist Party is bad for the Christian faith, and that anyone who wants to practise their faith seriously has to join the unregistered, underground churches in China. Many still hold the widely held view that Christians are being persecuted in the country, their freedom to practise the faith restricted and that bibles are banned or not readily available in the country. People often wonder if the official churches that have to be registered with the official Christian body, The Three-Self Patriotic Church (TSPM), are real Christians! The images and contents will shock you and challenge you to ask whether that widely held view is indeed valid. The official Protestant Church in China is one of the fastest growing churches today. Estimates vary widely, but most people believe that there may be well over 60 million Christians in China today.

Story: Many still think that the officially atheist Communist Party is bad for the Christian faith, and that anyone who wants to practise their faith seriously has to join the unregistered, underground churches in China. Many still hold the widely held view that Christians are being persecuted in the country, their freedom to practise the faith restricted and that bibles are banned or not readily available in the country. People often wonder if the official churches that have to be registered with the official Christian body, The Three-Self Patriotic Church (TSPM), are real Christians! The images and contents will shock you and challenge you to ask whether that widely held view is indeed valid. The official Protestant Church in China is one of the fastest growing churches today. Estimates vary widely, but most people believe that there may be well over 60 million Christians in China today. The packed to capacity crowds at all worship services every Sunday in both the rural and urban areas is a sign that many Chinese are turning to the Christian faith in the country. Indeed, the official statistics seem to confirm this trend. In five-year period to 2012, over 2.4 million Christians were baptized into the faith. In that same period, 5195 churches were built or renovated, or an average of 3 churches being built everyday in the country. The growth is so fast, that there are not enough pastors to take care of this growing population. Some estimates that there is one pastor to every 18,000 Christians in the country. Some people still think that bibles are banned, and that Christians are not allowed to be too visible. The contrary is true. Over 64 million bibles have been distributed in the country. The bible is perhaps the best-selling book in the country today, and anyone who wants a copy can easily get it from the bookstore in church. Instead of having to hide from public places, the visibility of the presence of Christian faith is indeed startling in many parts of the country – a big cross standing on an important lake in Suzhou, a big image of Jesus praying and Christians dancing in public parks with local people. Their faith is very deep, and that is to be expected in a country where most people are first-generation Christians. They read their bibles everyday. They share their faith with their friends in earnest. They go to Church, sometimes everyday and early in the morning at 6 am to pray. They try to reach out to society with very concrete ministries, like old-folks home, medical care, kindergarten, and others. During Christmas celebrations, the churches are packed and often overflowing with people. The crowds are so large that the police has often got to be called in to control the crowds! Chinese people are rushing to embrace the Christian faith! China, under the atheist Communist Party, has achieved so much for the Christian faith, what western missionaries could not even though they had worked on the field for hundred of years prior to the Communist take-over in 1949. During the period when western missionaries were operating in China prior to 1949, society itself often frowned upon the Christian faith as the people were suspicious of the motives of the missionaries as they were often associated with imperialistic powers. The Opium War did not help that image. The Three-Self Patriotic Church is all about self-governance, self-support and self-propagation (ie indigenous missionary work with Chinese spreading the faith to other Chinese). Under the TSPM, society’s attitude towards the Christians faith has indeed changed, leading to many Chinese embracing the faith. This is the first time in Chinese history that the China church has developed without western influence, and it has developed very fast. The story of the Church in China is an important story. First, it dispels many misconceptions out there about the Christian faith in China. Second, in another twenty years, with continued growth in the Church in China, the country may indeed be the largest Church in the world, carrying the banner of the faith in the world.

About the Artist:

His work can be found in Redux Pictures achieves.