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Chinese Missionaries to Europe?

ChinaSource recently commented that “despite Europe’s historical legacy as an active sender of missionaries, Europe nowadays should be considered as a mission field. The speed of de-christianisation in this region is striking, leaving believers without pastors and many communities without a Christian witness.” 

ChinaSource particularly emphasised the needs of Chinese living in Europe. Chinese immigration has led to Chinese churches springing up in Europe since World War II. A first wave of immigrants from Chinese-speaking regions came after the Second World War. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s as China opened up, there was an accelerated movement of Chinese immigrants to Europe, especially in Spain and Italy, with significant numbers coming from Zhejiang province. Some Chinese within that immigration to Europe were believers. There are estimated to be approximately three million Chinese scattered across Europe with around 25,000 to 30,000 believers amongst them. As a result today there are approximately 330 stable church-like gatherings for Chinese believers in Europe, with over 280 full-time ministers currently serving in these churches. 

But there are two significant challenges: 

First, there are still over two million Chinese people in Europe waiting to hear the gospel.

Second, the distribution of Chinese churches and pastors among the European Chinese population is extremely uneven, so that there are areas where Chinese Christians reside that do not have ministers nearby, especially in Eastern European countries like Romania, Belarus, Montenegro, and Latvia. The situation is not much better in Western Europe. In France, around 700,000 Chinese people are spread across cities like Paris, Lille, Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse. However, approximately 95% of Chinese churches and ministers are concentrated in Paris.

ChinaSource argues that we should learn from history. “History has provided us with a model to draw from. Two hundred years ago, missionaries came to China to engage in evangelism and church planting. They were strongly supported by mission agencies in terms of spiritual well-being, human resources, and financial resources. The existence and operation of mission organisations were key factors in the success of that golden missionary century.”

Therefore the idea is that Chinese churches in Asia should repeat that sending model. “Can we pick up the kingdom mindset and courage of mission organisations in the nineteenth century and help more brothers and sisters who are willing to serve in Europe? This would enable them to engage more easily in the work of the kingdom in Europe and in building the church.” In other words, Chinese churches in Asia should send pastors as missionaries to these Chinese churches in Europe and should support them in their work there.

“The London Missionary Society, founded in 1795, played a pivotal role in missionary endeavours, dispatching missionaries like Robert Morrison, David Livingstone, and Eric Liddell. But over the past century, atheism and populations adhering to other religions have seen rapid growth in Europe. The decline of Christianity is very much evident. Churches shrink or close. Significantly fewer people identify as Christians.” It would be wonderful to see a mission movement springing up in the Asian churches to send missionaries not just to reach the Chinese who are living in Europe but also to reach the native Europeans themselves.

This subject is pertinent for us at FieldPartner, because we operate in both English and Chinese Languages. Check out our Chinese website here.

  • Pray for Chinese pastors in Europe to be sufficiently supported to do their work.
  • Pray for a new missionary movement to Europe to spring up amongst Asian churches.
  • Pray for revival in Chinese and European churches in Europe.

Source: ChinaSource. “Europe: A Missionary Field or Mission Force?” by Luke Zheng.

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