3 Ways I’ve Learned to Support China’s Christians Better as an American Pastor

Don’t let political rivalry define our perspectives of each other.

I serve as senior pastor of a medium-sized church in Cary, North Carolina. Besides being multicultural and multiethnic, we are also politically diverse: There are Democrats, Republicans, and many politically “homeless” people who have a difficult time identifying with either party.

This year, like many pastors and church leaders in the United States, I find myself yet again leading my congregation through a season of deep division over the political future of our country.

But I have received valuable lessons in navigating these troubled waters from what might appear to be an unlikely source: Christians in China.

In the US, we often think about China in economic or political terms: trade deficits, global manufacturing, or the rise of Xi Jinping’s authoritarianism.

Narratives often pit the two countries as strategic rivals, breeding a sense of fear and competition. More than 4 in 5 American adults (83%) have an unfavorable view of China and its geopolitical role, according to a Pew Research Center survey last year. Survey respondents felt that China interferes in other countries’ affairs and that its actions do not contribute to global peace and stability.

As American Christians, however, we need to think carefully about our relationship with China. Instead of allowing cultural rivalry to become our driving perspective about China and its people, we are called to be Jesus-first, not economy-first or America-first.

The gospel has taken root in China, despite the indoctrination of materialistic atheism at every level of society and severe persecution under President Xi. Conservative estimates put the number of Christians in China at 40 million, while others say it is closer to 116 …

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