BEIJING, China (NNI) – Thousands of Chinese students are turning to the Christian faith in the bitter aftermath of the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement on June 4, 1989, but the Chinese church is experiencing difficulties discipling these new intellectual converts.
Since June 4, China’s official Three-Self Protestant churches have been swamped with students inquiring about the Christian faith. In Beijing’s Haidan Church, one member said, “We are mobbed; it takes me two hours to get from my pew back out the door because so many students are asking me about my faith.” House church leaders in Beijing have also been inundated, “We are totally overwhelmed by the student converts,” said one leader.
Sobered by the brutality of the June massacre, and disillusioned with the system that instituted it, China’s students are now seeking fulfillment in a relationship with Jesus Christ. “Christianity is very realistic,” said one student. “Unlike our Chinese religions, it starts from the premise that what is wrong with the world is mankind, not circumstances – this attracts us!”
A Christian professor in Beijing added, “June 4 has impressed upon the people that man is bad; but all the Chinese religions teach that man is good, so they have to turn to Christianity.”
Significant outbreaks in conversions have been reported in seven cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Fuchow, and Xiamen. According to reports by Chinese students, in at least five of these cities an estimated ten percent of the student body has turned to Christianity.
The student revival is so immense that government sanctioned churches are having difficulty coping with the number of student converts. Most of the students do not appear to be settling in the government-sanctioned Three-Self Protestant churches. Complaining of shallow teaching, students are moving on to house churches where they say they receive more substantial pulpit instruction.
Difficulties have arisen in house churches now flooded with students. Leaders say that it is not just because of the difficulties in discipling so many at once, but in coping with the peculiar needs of recently converted intellectuals. Other house church leaders confess they are unable to answer many of the specific queries of the new converts, and are urgently calling for the delivery of apologetic literature. Some students in Beijing have even resorted to hand-copying key apologetic works.