In the 1950s, the communist government of China expelled all foreign missionaries. Many Americans have seen black-and-white photos of missionary families sitting next to piles of luggage on the wharves of Shanghai, waiting to sail home. We know much about this event because the missionaries came home and wrote books about their dedication and their unrealized harvest.
Another image that dominates the Western view of the Chinese church is of Mao Zedong’s zealous Red Guards persecuting the church during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Bibles were burned, believers were jailed and the faithful could gather only in secret. Sometimes they would share a single tattered copy of the Bible and lip-synch hymns so as not to give away their “counterrevolutionary” activities.
Stuart C. Strother is a professor in the school of business and management at Azusa Pacific University, where he leads a study program on Asia. Stuart and his wife, Barbara, are authors of Living Abroad in China (Avalon Travel Publishing).