Arriving in China four years ago, we knew we had a lot to learn, but we also thought that our reading and studying of Islam had prepared us to share the gospel with Chinese Muslims. For two years, we studied language diligently longing for the day when we could clearly share the gospel. As we studied and learned new words and grammar structures, we practiced what we were learning and asked lots of questions, especially spiritual questions. The problem was the answers were not what we were expecting. They were not the answers in all the books we had read. And, every person I asked answered each question differently.
Some Hui thought that no one was good enough to get to heaven, but one day all true Muslims would eventually get there. Some thought that because they called themselves Muslims they would go to heaven. Good works were not necessary. Some thought Muslims and Christians both were going to heaven. Some didn’t know and didn’t care.
The reality for most Hui people is that life is hard and life issues like finding a job and putting food on the table takes precedence over the study of Islam. Many Hui have memorized the Islamic prayers, but they don’t know what they mean. They also don’t take the time to actually stop and pray except maybe on Friday afternoon. To be Hui is to be Muslim because it has always been that way as far as most Hui know. They can’t imagine not being Muslim. The large majority though also can’t explain what it means to be Muslim.
There are about 15 million Hui people spread across China. The two unifying characteristics are that none of them eat pork, and they all call themselves Muslims. Therefore, as we build relationships and seek to share the gospel, we must start with two simple premises: 1. They have never heard about Jesus. 2. We have no idea what they believe about Islam. So we start with questions seeking to understand who they are and what they believe. Then we transition to sharing about Jesus with the hope and prayer that the Spirit will open their eyes to see that Jesus is the only way to God. We have learned that it is impossible for us to ever have fluent enough Chinese to share the gospel clearly enough so that they will believe. Transformation is dependent on the Holy Spirit. So regardless of how well we can speak Chinese, we desire to meet people, hear their stories and then share as much as we can about Jesus dependent on the Spirit to open eyes to see and ears to hear.
Thank you faith family for how you have supported us with prayer and giving over the last four years. Thank you for the team that you are building around us. Of 15 million Hui, less that 1% have heard the gospel! There is much work to be done. Let’s commit to another four years of desperate prayer for the Hui, giving and going so that all Hui may have a chance to hear the truth! A great way to stay connected to our work is visiting pray4hui.com as you read stories about the Hui on the website you can use those stories to guide your prayers. You can also receive updates on Twitter @pray4hui and Facebook at facebook.com/pray4hui.
C & L lead our church planting efforts in East Asia. Along with their three children, C & L are being commissioned out today to return to their work among the Hui.