Georges Houssney’s Trip to Asia:
Encouraging the Underground Church in China
In China’s vast field of over 1.4 billion people, the church is thriving. While the Communist Party reported only 18 million Chinese Christians in 2004, current figures are estimated at over 100 million! While accurate numbers are hard to come by, it is easy to see that the power and freedom of Christ flourishes in regions where His Word was once not known.
Some regions of China are hostile to Christianity, while Islam is allowed to flourish—and followers of Jesus must meet in secret. It is to one such area that Georges traveled on this trip. In the Muslim-dominated region of Northwest China, Georges encouraged and ministered to 16 leaders of underground churches who serve the Hui Chinese, a population that contains the largest concentration Muslims in China—around 23 million! It is crucial to build up and fellowship with the Lord’s laborers in this region, as they are often alone and unsupported in their efforts. Georges listened to their individual plights, prayed for them, helped them understand how to reach unbelievers, and taught them about church structure.
The area itself was quite a shock. According to Georges, “I dropped my bag at the hotel and decided to walk around the neighborhood. I was shocked to find three large mosques within a mile radius of the hotel! Signs in Arabic were on almost every storefront, selling Islamic books and Halal food, and I saw so many Chinese women wearing head coverings as they walked down the streets… It was so strange, I felt like I was back in the Middle East!”
One of the mosques in that area was built in 1038 and serves as a tourist attraction. Another was built in the 1950s, and has a capacity of 7000 people. During Islamic holidays, over 200,000 Muslim pilgrims gather to attend prayers at the mosques—so many that streets are closed for many blocks as their prayer rugs fill the roads. This area in China is a stronghold of Islamic faith, and reaching it with the gospel can be a treacherous pursuit.
After meeting and praying with church leaders, Georges met with another underground church who boldly operates without a government license, fellowshipping on the basis of God’s authority instead of man’s authority. “I was amazed at their courage,” said Georges. “They meet openly and trust in the Lord’s protection over their body. It is a wonder to see.”
Georges’ last stop in China was to minister to a group of 20 Chinese students who had studied internationally and accepted Christ in other countries. They continue to follow him upon returning to China, but many need help adjusting to their newfound faith upon returning to their families and homeland.
“This trip opened my eyes to the fruitfulness of the church in China,” said Georges. “I was awed when hearing from pastors how many churches they have planted and how fast the church is growing. Many of the Chinese are missions-minded, and aim to go out to other countries to bring the gospel to the far lands in the world.” This encouragement was not just for Georges, but for our ministry—and for you who labor with us in the fulfilling work of the Great Commission.