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Why has Evangelism in the Pacific been so Slow?

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It started in the Philippines

American Christians got lucky in the Philippines. After the USA took over the Philippines as a result of the Spanish-American war, the Filipinos hated the American managers. Most Americans do not like being imperialists; they’d rather be at home on their ranches or reveling in big cities lights and drama than off in some backwater, no matter how fresh the bananas and coconuts or cheap the labor.

But World War 2 changed that entirely. The Japanese were vicious tyrants so when the Americans drove them out of the islands, the Filipinos rejoiced and became pro-America. In fact many families were allowed to emigrate to the USA based on their service to the war effort. All this made the evangelization of the islands easier. The Roman Catholics were the original western European religious workers but they were so woven into state politics, the common man was not happy with Catholicism.

It continued in South Korea

Again, as a result of the Korean War, Christianity became entrenched in that nation and now the Koreans are the strongest Christian group in the Pacific Rim. But they are not friends with China and most of the other nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos and Vietnam areas despite strong trading partnerships.

Why Christianity faces its main foe

So for the rest of the Pacific Rim there is a problem. The Christian faith requires repentance. Repentance is not merely regret, remorse, or even feeling sorry about what you did. We all have regrets but in most cases we want the regrets to go away, and keep the lifestyle that imprinted them on our personalities. Full repentance means never committing those sins again not just confessing them as past events.

True repentance acknowledges God as creator of the universe and that you, the human being, need to recognize that you are separated from God because of your attitude and behavior. That kind of attitude does not mean you must expose a life of depravity and sin, only that you see yourself in relationship to the divine as needing a change of personhood. Some evangelists call this The Exchanged Life. Jesus died that you might life and become more like him.

Losing face

In stark contrast is the mind of the oriental who believes the greatest shame and personal angst is to “lose face.” Those of us in Western nations do not have a sense of what this entails.

As an example of losing face, there was the 2008 report of a Muslim taxi driver in Texas murdering his two teenagers because, apparently, they dated some American boys. https://jonathanturley.org/2008/01/05/texas-officials-investigate-whether-fathers-shooting-of-two-daughters-was-a-muslim-honor-killing/

It appears that the Islamic community protected this man and he has never been brought to justice. To American ears the idea that anyone would think he had the right to kill anyone, much less his own children because they brought shame on his name is unthinkable, even insane.

The male public image

But to Oriental minds, especially males, anything that makes them look bad in front of their peers is called losing face, no matter how true the accusation may be, no matter how minor the accusation or irrelevant.

Christianity, as well as the American Declaration of Independence, says we believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. First in the series is life. No one had the right to take another’s life; it’s a longstanding tenet of Western common law.

So now translate this to China or Japan. The very idea that someone would confess their inadequacies, much less real violations of the civil or moral law, is madness.

Here is what is required

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

A list of possible sins

Galatians 5:19-24 The Message (MSG)

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.

Looking at this list you’d suppose it can’t happen in China and yet today there are 100,000,000 dedicated Chinese who have done this. They are separate, silent, and hidden, but they have taken this chance with God.

And God can use them. He managed to turn the world around with only 11 disciples and one savior. He can do it again.

#China #evangelism #honorkilling #Islam

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