The following plea for laborers comes from one of Vision Baptist Mission’s missionaries serving the Lord in mainland China.
It’s official. The Lord has answered years of prayer. As of Wednesday, March 15, 2023, China’s Immigration Bureau has re-opened its borders to all pre-pandemic visa types – including tourists. For the first time in three years, foreigners may once again come to China for work, business, study, and travel. The hold placed on visas issued pre-pandemic has also been lifted, meaning that those visas issued before March 2020 are once again in effect. Praise the Lord – China is once again accessible to many here in the States! The doors are open and gospel messengers can again come in with relative ease! The need for the gospel in China is great, and now the opportunities are great as well!
What China needs is an influx of gospel-heralding laborers. What China needs is a flood of “ready scribes” armed with the Word of God to enter preaching the saving message of Jesus Christ.
Young preacher, would you be willing to join such a surge? Would you be willing to come to China as a preacher of the cross? Would you be willing to devote your life to making Jesus known throughout China? Take a moment and consider these questions.
As you consider them, recall Ezra the priest. Described in Ezra 7 as a “ready scribe in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6), Ezra brought the preaching of God’s Word back into Israel post-exile. He, along with a group of some thirteen men and other Levites, “read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused [the people of Israel] to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8).
The task of Ezra and these other men was rather straightforward. They read the Bible, they gave the sense of the Bible, and they caused the people to understand the Bible. They read the Word, explained the Word, and helped the people understand the Word.
Young preacher, would you consider devoting your life to doing the same in China? Would you consider spending the bulk of your remaining days on this earth reading the Bible in China, giving the sense of the Bible in China, and causing Chinese people to understand the Bible?
Yes, it will take some time to learn Chinese. Yes, it will take some time to learn to eat with chopsticks. Yes, it will take some time to raise support. And yes, if you haven’t begun already, it will take some time to prepare yourself spiritually for such a task.
Yes, it will take time. But it will be immensely worth the preparation.
Again, I challenge you to consider Ezra the priest. In Ezra 7, just after being described as a “ready scribe”, he is noted as a man who had “prepared his heart.” The Bible says that he “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements” (Ezra 7:10). Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Bible, to do the Bible, and to teach in Israel the Bible — all long before he went to Israel and actually preached it.
Young preacher, would you be willing to begin today preparing your heart? Would you prepare your heart to seek the Bible, do the Bible, and teach in China the Bible? Would you begin now to get yourself ready to seek the Word of God, to obey the Word of God, and to teach in China the Word of God?
When the people of Israel understood the Word of God after Ezra’s explanation, they made “great mirth” and were joyful “because they had understood the words that were declared unto them” (Nehemiah 8:12). Be assured, young preacher, that the people of China would equally make great mirth and be joyful if they were to have someone cause them to understand the Bible! They would rejoice if you would come and explain the Words of Life to them!
China can be entered once again! China needs gospel preaching! China needs men who will read the Bible, explain the Bible, and help them understand the Bible.
Young preacher, will you prepare your heart and come to China preaching Christ?
If you or someone you know is interested in missions in China, please contact Vision Baptist Missions to start a conversation with a missionary about how to take the next step on your path from where the Lord has currently placed you all the way to proclaiming Jesus Christ in China.
Our primary objective is not just to live in Japan but to start a church. While settling back into the country, we plan to be concurrently promoting the church plant and spreading the gospel so we can officially launch the church at the beginning of December. We hope this allows us ample time to get the word out about the new church.
The plot twist for us will be the ongoing COVID situation in Japan. Aichi prefecture (the state that Nagoya is in) is currently in a state of emergency. Navigating these times where large gatherings are frowned upon will be a challenge. However, in the middle of every obstacle is an opportunity. We know that our God is bigger than any pandemic that we might face. Many variables lie ahead in the days and weeks to come. Butwe have the unchanging gospel and the unwavering promises of God.
Some may ask why we go during unfavorable circumstances. While the situation is less-than-ideal, we have to remember that the people in Japan are in even more unfavorable circumstances apart from the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of them have not heard of the unshakable hope we find in the pages of Scripture.
The incarnation was an obstacle. The cross was an obstacle. But our Lord did not falter at these obstacles. While He may have preferred not to go through them, His prayer was “not my will, but thine.” What is God’s will? He wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)!
We are incredibly blessed to be able to work in a first-world country like Japan. We are not building straw huts or needing airplanes to deliver medical supplies. But we do face a spiritual foe. The Word says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” The enemy has held Japan in his clutches through the darkness of Buddhism and Shintoism. We ask that you pray for us as we embark on this next term. But even more, pray with us that the Lord of the harvest will send more laborers into His harvest in Japan.
In missionary biographies of days gone by, you can read about how many spent months at sea on their way to their fields to tell people about Jesus. While most of us missionaries don’t ride ships to our respective fields of service, we nonetheless have the chance to serve the Lord in foreign lands. But if our days are not spent sailing the high seas, what does it look like to go to a foreign country?
Returning to the field includes packing up and moving out of our residence in the States. We rented an apartment near our home church for our brief, 5-month furlough. In the weeks leading up to our departure, we (mostly Rosie) coordinated furniture pickups and returns in between saying goodbyes.
This return has been a bit different from our previous departure for Japan. Because of the ongoing coronavirus situation, we need to have negative PCR test results within 72 hours of departure. The direct flight from Atlanta to Tokyo is 14 hours long. Upon arrival, we will be required to take another PCR test. Once we are in the country, we have to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
We will be driving 5 hours from the Tokyo airport to Nagoya, the city where we will be planting a church. For the first 6 weeks, we will be renting a temporary-stay apartment in Nagoya while we look for houses. After finding a home to rent, we will drive 5 hours to Niigata (where we previously lived for 2 years) to pick up our household items in storage and take them back to Nagoya. After moving into our home, we will begin looking for a building we can rent for our church plant.
One of the interesting aspects of life in Japan is the layers of bureaucracy. Because our furlough in the U.S. was not a permanent move, we are still registered with the city hall in Niigata. In Japan, there is a very specific process to follow when moving from one city to another.
First, you go to the city hall for the city you are moving OUT of. Here, you submit your paperwork saying you are leaving the city. After this, you take your paperwork to the new city you are moving TO and let them know that you are moving into their area. Japan has social healthcare, but it falls to the city government to issues health insurance cards. So we will surrender our old health insurance cards to the city we move out of, and we will be issued new insurance cards at the city hall for the area we are moving into. Because of the detail tied to our city of residence, we will work on this paperwork after securing a home to live in.
Singapore is a relatively new country. A former British colony, it gained independence from Malaysia in 1965. At the time of independence, Singapore would have been considered a third-world country. Through strong leadership and multiple government programs, Singapore quickly developed into the modern, first-world country it is today.
Singapore is a city-state meaning the whole country is just one big city. Singapore’s land area consists of one main island and a few other smaller islands. You can drive across the entire country in about 45-50 minutes.
Because of its British colony roots, the main language in Singapore is English. English is the official language and also the heart language of many Singaporeans. Chinese is also spoken in Singapore and has a heavy influence. Many older Singaporeans will prefer Chinese while the younger generations will prefer to communicate in English. Malay is spoken by people of Malaysian ethnicity and Tamil is spoken by people from south India are also official languages.
Singapore is a place of great spiritual need. With a population of over 5.7 million, It is a place of many different religions but has few true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Buddhism would be the most popular religion and is practiced by about one-third of the people in Singapore. Christianity accounts for about 19% of the population. Muslims and Taoists are also very common as are people that would claim they have no religion. Of the 19% that claim to be Christian, many of them wouldn’t be truly born again as they would believe in some kind of works-based salvation. There are some churches preaching the Gospel in Singapore, but there is a great need for many more.
There is a good amount of religious freedom or tolerance in Singapore. Missionaries are allowed to get religious visas and do missionary work legally in Singapore. Churches are legal and allowed to meet freely. The only religious group that is banned in Singapore is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are some restrictions for churches. Churches are only allowed to meet in places that get approval to be used for religious purposes and there is a lot of red-tape for new church registrations. Still despite some restrictions, there is a great opportunity for church planting to be done in Singapore.
As of 2021, we have found out of 11 Independent Baptist churches in Singapore, with two of them being pastored by missionaries, seven or eight pastored by Singaporean pastors, and a couple of churches without a pastor. These churches are not new church plants. Most of them were started 20-40 years ago. From what we have found out, it has been years since any new Independent Baptist churches have been planted. While it is encouraging to know of churches in Singapore faithfully preaching the Bible, the reality is many more new Bible-preaching churches are needed to reach the 5.7 million people. Would you pray for God to send men to start more churches in Singapore? Would you pray about what God might have you to do to reach Singapore with the Gospel?
The one thing that impressed me the most when I first arrived in China was the masses of people. It is not like I had never been in a large crowd before, but in China the large crowds are everywhere you go. You might as well abandon the love of personal space if you decide to travel to that part of the world.
It is really hard to grasp the number of people that live in China. 1.4 billion is a number too hard to wrap one’s mind around. Breaking it down into more manageable parts helps a little. Think of a city with a population of one million, and then imagine 1,393 of those cities. In each of them there are a million personalities; a million souls for whom Christ died. From that perspective, the scope of the need seems overwhelming. In many missions-minded churches you’ll find a wall map with pins showing where missionary families are working. We have to be careful not to let that pin distort our perspective on the proportions of the need. One thumb tack can cover an area of several million people. No wonder Jesus said to his disciples,
“…the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
Kinmen Island is only about 3km off the shores of China. It is so close that one might think it was part of the Mainland, but it is, in fact, an island of Taiwan. For people like Aidan Ellis-Patterson, an Australian English teacher working on the island, the possibility of a take-over from the Chinese government is a daily reality, and even more so in these days of threats of coming from Beijing. According to Aiden, it would not take much effort for the Chinese Communist Party to take the island. The Nationalists fled Mainland China to claim Taiwan along with Kinmen Island in 1949, and the Chinese Communist Party has never recognized Taiwan as an independent country.
The Peace that Passeth Understanding
The 140,000 residents who live on the island can never completely feel at ease under such conditions, at least not if their peace and safety comes from worldly circumstances. What the Taiwanese people need is not a better political situation, but they need the peace which passeth all understanding that is found in Christ. It is a peace that transcends all earthly circumstances and gives them the hope of heaven. Who will go and tell them about the One who can give them that peace?