Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Church in the People's Republic of China

China is seen as one of the last frontiers of the Church for missionary work. Due to government restrictions, proselyting missionaries are absent amist the 1.3 billion people. In recent years the Church has created several branches throughout the country for foreigners that live there (represented by the green squares above). I estimate there are several thousand Chinese members at least who live in mainland China that are not allowed to attend these branches and can only practice in their own homes. These members are batpized in other countries and then return to China later on.

President Spencer W. Kimball said the following about China in an article entitled "The Uttermost Parts of the Earth" in 1979:

And what of China, the third largest country in the world? Nearly one billion of
our Father’s children live in China, one-fourth of the entire world’s
population. Six hundred and sixty million of them speak Mandarin Chinese.
How many of us speak Mandarin Chinese? We must prepare while there is time
to prepare to teach these people. Of course, we face great barriers,
including political barriers, in many of these parts of the world.
Major changes are emerging within China today. The single most
important drive in contemporary China is to become strong, independent, and
modern. Of course, the Peoples Republic of China has no
outward sign of religious belief. The consensus of most Chinese people is
that “religion is not forbidden but it is not encouraged.” One of my
relatives went on a recent trip to China and reported that “the people are intelligent,
hopeful, and courteous. They love children, are courteous to parents and women,
and honor their ancestors. Very like our gospel faithful,
they are family-oriented and even in their communities live in individual
family units although they are humble ones.” One of our brethren recently
spent some time in China and brought back a detailed
report. He noted that the people were friendly and open. There seemed to be
no animosity or tension at any time from the people, and very little of
restriction or suspicion from government officials. By comparison with the widespread
breakdown of morality and discipline in the western world, the Chinese are a
disciplined, industrious, frugal, closely knit people. Their moral standards are
very high by modern western standards. Honesty is assumed in China as a matter
of course. Crime is rare. Drug abuse and prostitution have been virtually
eliminated. Premarital sex is heavily censured and is rare. Homosexuality and
lesbianism are virtually unknown. Family life is strong, with old family members
still given great respect and care. In contrast with many other emerging
nations, neatness and order characterize the Chinese cities and
countryside. One sees no trash or garbage, no wretched hovels, no beggars.
People seem to take pride in their personal appearance and the appearance of
their homes and surroundings. Flies have been virtually eliminated. Disease is
controlled by a nationwide system of preventive medicine.
Unfortunately, there is in China little of the freedom that is
so essential to the growth of the gospel. But things are
changing. China is planning to send more than ten thousand college-age
students overseas during the next two years. The doors are opening
gradually. The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over these nations under a new
regime that is certainly more open and more receptive to western ideas than
ever before. Such cultural and educational interchanges will offer
opportunities for exposure to the gospel. We must be prepared. The Lord is
doing his part and is waiting for us to open the doors.

Interestingly, there is a temple now in China. The Hong Kong China Temple was dedicated in the mid-90s and serves Hong Kong, China, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. This will be an important temple once missionaries begin to teach the Chinese people in China. There are very few, if any, examples in the history of the Church of a temple being so close to a population in which there are virtually no Church members.

Many skeptics argue that when missionaries start to proselyte in China, we will see the same result as we saw in Russia (initial rapid growth which slows dramatically after 10 years and results in high inactivity). There are many differences between China and Russia with the Church. First, the Chuch has several thousands of members already in the country. Second, branches have been established for foreigners. Lastly, the scriptures as well as a large amount of other Church materials have already been translated into Mandarin Chinese. It will be very exciting once missionaries enter China to see what happens. One of the areas we need to work on as a Church before we enter China is to have more missionaries and to have that number steadily increase. If we were to place the entire missionary force of 53,000 of the Church into China, most Chinese would not even know they were there!


Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

I can't find a Xi'an branch on the church website... can you tell me if one still exists as it states on your map?

Matt said...

I could not find it using, but as far as I know a branch still exists in the city. The Church News or Deseret News had an article about the branch in the city just a couple months ago. The Church website is not very reliable for most countries outside of the United States, especially for branches, many of which are not shown. For example, not one of the three branches in Togo are shown.

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

mormon church needed in zhiziluo china

Uygur said...

Last I heard, the International Branch in Xi'an was centered at the Xian International Studies University (XISU) near Wujiafen.

Wynder family said...

The people's Republic of China in my point of view is already opened. We have missions in Western Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Canada, and the US with Mandarin speaking missionaries. The fact is, Chinese people have been joining the Church from all over the world already and they go back to their homeland to teach the gospel to their families. In a family-unit sense, the country is opened. However, what I am more concerned today is not limited to the People's Republic of China but Central Asia, Post Persian region, the Middle East, and North Africa. All the regions that I have mentioned above are Islamic lands. The scriptures mentioned that virtually all people will have the opportunity to hear the gospel before the second coming. We need to step up a bit on that, if we are talking about the frontiers of the Church.

Unknown said...

hello.i am joel,from argentina,i'm studing chinese and i will be in xian waiguoyudaxue 西安外国语大学 in sepetember of these year, for one year.i need to know the addres of the church so i can attend..