The Australian Church – Chinese Christians
9 Nov 2020
For many Chinese migrants in Australia’s history, religion plays an important part of their integration into their new Australian life.
Some of the earliest Chinese migrants came to seek their fortune in the mid-1800s during the gold-rush era. This brought about the beginnings of many Chinese churches in the goldfields as missions reached out to these workers and led them to a new faith.
Over the decades, Australia has welcomed Chinese migrants from many different parts of the globe, all with different life stories. Ethnic Chinese migrants from Vietnam came as refugees, while those from Hong Kong moved to Australia in anticipation of their beloved island being handed back to the Chinese government. Economic migrants from Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan flowed in to contribute to the diverse ethnic Chinese communities. Most recently, the influx of Mainland Chinese constitutes the latest body of ethnic Chinese migrants.
Early migrants risked their lives in this new and foreign land to gain material wealth. Often they intended to return home once they had made their fortunes. Modern migrants to Australia have aspirations that are more complex and holistic. Today, Australia is perceived by migrants as a country of opportunity, abundance, peace, and security, where they can strive to build new and better lives for themselves and their children.
The Australian Chinese Christian community’s awareness and interest in global missions is also growing as they shed the traditional Sino-centric mission view. Chinese Christians are moving beyond their cultural comfort zones as their awareness of unreached people groups increases. The growth of the Chinese Church in Mainland China as well as China’s expeditious economic success has helped Chinese Christians in Australia to accept that while the Mainland Chinese Church still needs support, it is also growing into a missionary sending church. Reports of Mainland Chinese missionaries in the Middle East, former Russian controlled Central Asia, Pakistan, Africa, and other mission fields have helped overseas Chinese to focus on the spiritual needs of countries outside of their homeland.
The Australian Chinese Church’s interest in global cross-cultural ministry is exciting and encouraging. Recent migrants, unlike early Chinese migrants, come bringing their wealth and comfortably settle into their new life. With their material needs catered for, they are able to focus their energies on other things, including the Great Commission to reach the world for God. Not surprisingly, many middle-aged Christians and retirees are exploring global involvement in mission.
The children of migrants collectively known as second-generation Chinese comprises of well educated, professionally trained, affluent, globe-trotting God-loving Christians. They are exposed to the physical and spiritual needs of the world and believe that God has mandated them to bring social, economic, and developmental changes while bearing the Gospel of hope.
While the population of Chinese Christians is relatively small, the prayer is for this well-resourced and trained community to become a significant contributor to global outreach amongst the yet to be reached.
– Patrick Lok, Rev. P. L.
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