When someone asked me “What are the keys to reaching the Chinese?” I had to stop and think about it. I’ve never had to write down what we thought. We do it every day but how we go about reaching the vast throng of people about us is simply a natural reaction in response to how life is here. I also know that the specifics of the “keys” will change depending on the group of people you are with and the region you live in.
There are some general rules, though:
Nobody likes the arrogance of a “come and believe my religion, it’s way better than yours” attitude. The Chinese are a proud people who know they have a wonderful history spanning more than 2,000 years. Even the little-educated migrant worker feels this. If we approach them as if they are “less” in any way, we will never gain their friendship or trust.
Humility can be a problem when it seems to the West that our expertise and aspects of our culture are so desired there. But that doesn’t mean they are willing to drop all they have known for centuries to take up a “new” way. It’s a gradual move. In a country undergoing rapid economic and development transformation, internal attitudes are slower to change, and rightly so. Think through the impact of philosophical changes on their families and society. Not all that comes in is good and healthy.
This is a culture that likes honesty, even if it is treated with suspicion and, at times, bemusement. The bottom line is that all people I have interacted with have appreciated being treated fairly and honestly. It shows that I can be trusted with their thoughts and feelings on wider issues.
Be a servant
Maybe this one should have been first. Doing kind things, serving and loving people sends them into a spin of emotions: “Why do you want to help us?” “Why have you given me these gifts?” “Why are you learning my language?”
When we serve, people are able to see that what we have to offer is different to what they have experienced over the years, years when other outsiders sought only to take from them and belittle them. Coming with a spirit of humility and honesty is the point of greatest impact.
When you help the unwanted, people want to know why. We were constantly asked, “Why do you have that orphan girl with you?” Other foster families are asked the same question. Would you believe, one of the top surgeons in our city was saved because of the compassion he saw in another family who were helping orphan children get the care they needed? An equally amazing story is of a young student who wanted to hear more about the faith of a foreign teacher whom he observed bending down to pick up rubbish and dispose of it properly.
We’re watched, too. Our cleaning staff here once told me that I was different, that I talked to them like they were equals. I responded by saying that, under God, we are all equals.
Resource and support
This last key is the one that will not only unlock doors but also start the vehicle to take things even further – resourcing and supporting locals to do the work for themselves. There will never be a greater resource to reach Chinese than other Chinese. To journey alongside them in this process is a great privilege. So much more can be said about this but we’re out of room. Maybe another time…
So you see, the keys to reaching the Chinese are basically the same as reaching anyone anywhere. The keys to unlocking the way to the Kingdom are in our hands. Love others as Christ commanded, with the humility and honesty that Christ lived by, and be a servant to all, just like he was.
This article is written by tranzsend field staff who work amongst Chinese people. We hope it will be of help to anyoneworking amongst Chinese within, or outside of, New Zealand.