by Howard W. Moore and Philip Teng
After one year of preparation, the Chinese Congress on Evangelism convened November 9-13, 1970, on scenic Grass Mountain (Yangmingshan) just a few miles from downtown Taipei, Taiwan. It was a historic gathering for the Chinese church as 390 participants attended, representing some 50 different Protestant groups.
After one year of preparation, the Chinese Congress on Evangelism convened November 9-13, 1970, on scenic Grass Mountain (Yangmingshan) just a few miles from downtown Taipei, Taiwan. It was a historic gathering for the Chinese church as 390 participants attended, representing some 50 different Protestant groups. All of the planning and directing was done by Chinese leaders, including both pastors and laymen. Westerners were cordially welcomed to attend the sessions and participate in the discussions. A few were asked to address the congress and one was asked to serve with eight Chinese on the original exploratory committee when the congress was proposed in 1969 at the annual conference of the China Evangelical Fellowship. But, in a right and proper sense, this was a Chinese Congress on Evangelism with all publicity and program packets produced in Chinese.
Here is what these Chinese leaders printed on the "why" of the congress and how it came about: "Having witnessed the good results of the 1966 Berlin Congress and the 1968 Singapore Congress; at the same time seeing the challenge increasing upon us population explosion, booming large cities, degrading conditions of society, increase of new false religions, serious youth problems, every kind of cult being zealously proclaimed, the problems within the Church that hinder the Gospel – the present situation calls us to seek urgently for productive methods to meet the crisis and enable us to work together effectively to further the Gospel.
"With this hope in view the delegates who attended the two former congresses, after much prayer and discussions, decided to propose the China Congress on Evangelism in order to put our thinking together for the benefit of all. That from the conditions and results of past evangelism as a basis we consider the weight of our present responsibility and look for a living workable plan to give us direction in evangelizing our generation. This we will share with all groups issuing a call to put our strength together moving forward cooperatively for revival in the church and the spread of the Gospel. This is our hope. "The congress theme: ‘Accomplish the Great Commission in our Generation.’ "
The Congress Executive Committee drew up a seven-fold purpose:
1. Continuing in the spirit of the previous congresses (Berlin and Singapore) to implement what was discovered in our nation to help further the gospel.
2. Study the problems the church is encountering in witnessing the gospel in large cities, villages, among mountain tribes, in factories and schools. In order to reach the masses how can we meet the problems and see results?
3. Discuss together tools and methods, and how best to deploy our personnel and tools of evangelism to fruitful use in penetrating the masses of our society.
4. In our modern situation what changes are needed in the local churches’ gospel programming to produce the most alive and effective means of furthering the gospel?
5. Work toward mobilizing all believers to recognize that proclaiming the gospel is every Christian’s individual responsibility, that proclaiming the gospel becomes the most important work in each local church.
6. Call each local church to face up to the strong challenges of the population explosion and social unrest and see the need of working together in one heart and mind to carry out the gospel’s Great Commission.
7. Chinese Christians have received the gospel for almost two centuries. If we only receive and do not give out we will lose much spiritual blessing. This is the time for us to arise and go moving forward to increase our overseas gospel work. This is the hour of our great opportunity.
As to the significance of this congress, it is staggering to pause and think that those who participated are blood kinsmen to the one-fourth of the world’s people – Chinese. As Chinese Christians considered the needs and problems of evangelism in order to accomplish the Great Commission in our generation, they saw this as their special concern.
Chinese brethren here and around the world share a common hope born of faith that God is going to open again the door to the gospel on the mainland of China. The warning that was sounded was "now is the time for preparation of personnel and materials so that when the door opens we will be ready."
Also, of major significance is the growing conviction shown by Chinese Christians that their mission is "into all the world" as well as to Chinese; that the Spirit of God is calling them along with other Asians in this generation to preach the gospel to every creature. In order to carry forward her mission Chinese exhorted the national church not to become dependent financially upon western missionary support and westerners were exhorted to be willing to release their control. At the same time there was no emphasis that western co-workers are not needed or wanted, but a strong word that westerners and Chinese share one common goal and need unity to carry out our commission.
Perhaps the crowning point of the congress was the practical working unity the Holy Spirit brought among us. From the united prayer together during the sessions to the details cared for by the various working committees, there was a joyous sense of oneness in Christ. Appetites are already whetted and an interdenominational prayer fellowship has grown out of the congress, which in turn is opening into new avenues of cooperative evangelism.
Twelve major papers dealing with relevant problems in evangelism were presented at the congress by evangelical leaders and scholars. In his paper under the topic of "The Christian Faith and Chinese Culture," Prof. Kou of Soo-Chow University dealt with the important issue of evangelizing the Chinese intelligentsia who have recently launched a movement to promote the revival of Chinese traditional culture in Taiwan. He pointed out that Christians must understand them, meet them on their own level, and challenge them with the two-fold message that Christ fulfills the Chinese ideals and that he offers new life.
Prof. Lin of the same university spoke on "Christianity and Modern Developments in China." He presented a comprehensive picture of the important role played by Christian leaders in developing China into a modern country.
The function of the Christian home in the overall picture of evangelism was enunciated in the lecture given by Dr. Chuang Ming Cheh, Professor of Psychiatry in the Medical College of Taiwan University. Approaching the subject from the psychiatric point of view, he pointed out that Christ is the answer to the family problems and that he is the bestower of a happy home which attracts others to the source of happiness.
The paper on "Application of Mass Communication Techniques in Evangelism" was given by Prof. Timothy Yu, head of the Department of Communications in the Baptist College of Hong Kong.
Rev. Kao Tsun Ming, former principal of the Presbyterian Bible Institute, now general secretary of the Presbyterian Assembly of Taiwan, examined the present system of theological education and spelled out in bold relief the main goals of the same.
Elder Wu Yung, another co-chairman of the congress, a well known evangelist in the Chinese churches throughout East Asia, discussed under the topic "Problems of the Modern Chinese Church" the urgent need of training youth and the great demand for fully dedicated Christian workers of vision and strong caliber. In another address he challenged the Chinese churches with a vision of foreign missionary service.
Dr. Andrew Loo, the last speaker, dealt with a very important subject: "When Mainland China Re-opens." The churches in Free China, he appealed, should be prepared in every way to present the gospel effectively to the mainlanders before the door reopens.
The Bible hour every morning and the evening sessions were taken by Philip Teng, vice-principal of the Alliance Bible Seminary and pastor of North Point Alliance Church, Hong Kong. Dr. Teng went through the Book of Acts, singling out places where church growth is mentioned explicitly and tried to find out principles that underlined the development of the apostolic church. In the evenings his emphasis was on the crises in the Christian ministry.
The five points made in the Declaration of the Congress are:
1. We need a united force to accomplish the Great Commission. Hearty cooperation between different denominations in the supreme task of evangelism is absolutely mandatory. Different names do not break up our allegiance to Christ. In evangelism we have unity in variety. There is only one church, one gospel, and one commission.
2. We must realize the peculiar characteristics of our generation and the crises of our church and, in the light of these, make all necessary amendments to mobilize the whole church under dedicated leadership employing the power of the Holy Spirit as well as new mass communication techniques for the spreading of the gospel.
3. Church renewal and growth is our immediate concern. We firmly believe that the promotion of quality will result in the increase of quantity and that lay training is the key to the total mobilization of the forces of the church.
4. The fulfillment of the Great Commission intrinsically calls for the evangelization of the people of mainland China. We must pray and prepare for it.
5. A worldwide vision in evangelism is imperative to the Chinese churches. We must become sending churches after one hundred and sixty years of receiving.
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