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Working together with the Chinese Church

Author: Bible Society, 7 October 2022

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Thanks to you more than 50 Chinese pastors attended a Bible Society training event in Swindon in September. Photo credit: Alex Baker/Bible Society

The Chinese Church is at a pivotal moment of change, but what does it mean for Bible work, and how is your support making a difference? 

In the days before the pandemic, if you walked into Manchester Alliance Church, you’d find a thriving congregation of around 200 Chinese Christians. They were an eclectic group. Local take-away staff worshipped alongside Chinese students (mostly post-graduates).

Many were new believers. But visit that same church today and you’ll see a drastically different picture. Numbers have swelled from 200 people to more than 1,200 – and the church is full of mature, educated and largely wealthy Christians.

What happened? Answer: the Hong Kongers arrived. In January 2021, the UK opened up a path to British citizenship for Hong Kongers and their dependents. Anyone born before 1997 became eligible for British National (Overseas) status (BNO) – and, in the wake of China’s increasingly authoritarian grip on the former British colony, thousands applied.

Chinese Church triples in size

About 120,000 people have arrived in the UK already, and many more are expected in the coming years. They are educated professionals (80 per cent have university degrees), mostly families (more than half come with children). And – despite the fact that Christianity accounts for just 10 per cent of Hong Kong’s population – two in every five of the new arrivals are Christians.

‘Chinese are now the biggest ethnic group of Christians in the UK,’ says Arleen Luo, Bible Society’s Manager of Chinese Mission. ‘The Chinese Church has tripled in size, and the landscape of the Church has really dramatically changed.’


But there are challenges. The Chinese Church is poorly resourced. Unbelievably, it’s not even possible to buy a traditional Chinese Bible in the UK. ‘Not from Bible Society, Amazon, churches or bookshops,’ said Arleen. ‘That’s something we’re changing, right now. There’s a real need for Bibles and resources to help Chinese Christians engage with God’s word.’

There are also tensions between the newcomers – who feel hurt, betrayed and forced from their homeland – and people from mainland China who may have different political views. ‘Most pastors we meet don’t know how to deal with that division,’ said Arleen, ‘They are asking us for help.’

In this complex and fast-changing situation, your support is key. As well as developing, translating and providing Bible resources, you are helping to train Chinese pastors and grow their connections with local, non-Chinese churches. And because of the size and nature of the Chinese Church, your support has a global impact.

Arleen Luo. Photo credit: Andy Knight/Bible Society

‘China has the biggest diaspora population in the world,’ said Arleen. ‘Every Bible resource we develop can be distributed by Bible Societies around the world, to reach this huge population of really influential people.

‘What’s more, unlike many diaspora populations, Chinese people share a similar cultural life, whether they are from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Malaysia. So every resource is relevant to all of them. What we do now in the UK could shape the Chinese Church all over the world.’

Word in Action

This article first appeared in Word in Action, Bible Society’s free magazine. You can discover more about the incredible impact your generosity is having all over the world by signing up to receive Word in Action. The magazine is packed with inspiring stories that all stem from your amazing support of Bible mission.

Find out about Word in Action right now

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