At one time the Chinese worshiped only one supreme God, whom they called Shang Ti, the “Heavenly Emperor.” There is evidence of this in their language and their philosophy. A Chinese missionary, Dr. C.H. Kang has revealed that the earliest Chinese knew about the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel at least five centuries before the birth of Moses.
The classical Chinese character for “to create” consists of the radicals for “dust” or “mud,” a “mouth” or “person,” “movement” or “life,” and “able to walk”; this hidden truth remarkably reflects the biblical account of Man’s creation: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed (with His mouth) into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (not an infant; an adult able to walk).”
The ancient Chinese were a free people offering oxen and sheep in sacrifice to God much in the same way as the ancient Hebrews. However, the Chinese were deceived into idol worship and embraced false religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. They were then subjugated to feudalistic dynasties under many emperors for 5000 years.
The latest series of emperors were the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the Manchu Ch’ing dynasty (1644-1912). During this time, Europeans attempted to open up China to the West, but the Ming and Manchu rulers did all in their power to hamper Western influence. After 1860, the British were able to establish a trading colony at Hong Kong. This made it possible for missionaries to bring the gospel to China’s millions. The Bible was translated into Chinese by Robert Morrison and an army of 800 missionaries caught the vision of Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. The gospel began to reach China’s vast heartland.
In the 20th century, Nationalists led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a Christian man (although weak in faith), overthrew the Manchus and established the Republic of China (1911-1912). China was convulsed by civil war among competing warlords and gangs of bandits terrorized the southern countryside. Sun reorganized the Nationalist Party in 1919 and began receiving aid and advisors from Russia in 1923. Meanwhile in Russia, the Bolshevik revolution occurred. As the Communists took control of the Russian Empire, their first goal became to take China for communism. The same year that Sun died, 1925, the Communist Party was established in China. They focused on the university campuses and the youth. One of the young people the Chinese Communist Party reached was Mao Tse-tung.
Chiang Kai-shek, commander of the Chinese army became the new leader of the Nationalists. By 1927, Chiang had broken with the Russians and began the long civil war against the Chinese Communists. Chiang’s hopes to unite China under Nationalist rule and to make needed economic, political and social reforms were dashed when Japan seized Manchuria in 1931 and invaded China in 1937. The civil war ceased as both Communist and Nationalist factions struggled against Japan.
After the war ended with Japan’s surrender in 1945, the Chinese civil war broke out again with renewed ferocity. The Russians turned over Manchuria to Mao Tse-tung and funded the overthrow of Chiang’s regime. By 1949, Mao was solidly victorious and he proclaimed: “The Chinese people have stood up at last.” He proclaimed a “New China,” and began a long policy of exterminating all landlords and capitalists.
From 1966 to 1976, Mao began China’s “Cultural Revolution,” a policy against intellectuals and religious people in China. Millions of people were killed and Mao became the greatest mass murderer in world history. During this time, young people marched in the streets holding the Little Red Book – the sayings of Chairman Mao. Millions of people worshipped Chairman Mao; the Church was persecuted, thousands of pastors were killed, church buildings were seized, and Bibles were destroyed. The Church was forced to go underground; Bibles were hand copied and memorized.
From 1960 to 1970, the older Christians – about one million believers – began to pray. The Holy Spirit was poured out on China and miracles, signs and wonders began to take place. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, many people began to reject Mao and turn back toward God. Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism had also been exterminated by Mao. Providentially, a spiritual vacuum had been created into which the gospel is now exploding.
Today there are an estimated 90 million Spirit-filled believers who make up China’s underground House Church movement. The revival in China is a revival of young people who were born since the Communist Revolution. They have been raised to believe in Communism, evolutionism, and atheism. But today, millions of these young people are part of the “Jesus Revolution.” Many former Communists are now preaching the gospel. They are calling China back to the one true God.