Month: August 2020

Interview with Peter Askew

Peter Askew serves cross-culturally in the north of England! His title is “Operations Manager for the Antioch Network Manchester”, an Anglican initiative, which plants churches in ethnically diverse communities and on housing estates across the Diocese of Manchester."

 

For more on the Antioch Network in Manchester, go to: www.antiochnetwork.org.uk Peter Askew serves cross-culturally in the north of England! His title is “Operations Manager for the Antioch Network Manchester”, an Anglican initiative, which plants churches in ethnically diverse communities and on housing estates across the Diocese of Manchester." Pete is an old friend of the Patersons, Ross and Christine knew him when he was growing up in York, where his parents and they were involved in planting a church together – now known as Gateway Church in Acomb. In this interview Pete speaks of his own experiences as a young person working in different parts of Africa. But the real challenge he gives to the church in the UK is to see that “the world is now on our doorstep” - so many nationalities from across the globe now live within our borders that we can now obey the Great Commission just by crossing the street! However, we might still be well advised to get some cross-cultural training, and Pete kindly recommends FieldPartner’s courses to that end.

Peter benefitted from our Crossing Cultures 101 course - check it out for yourself!

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Jacob's Encounters with God - Sermon

This sermon was given by Ross Paterson at Holy Trinity Cheltenham on August 16, 2020. This sermon is shorter than usual because the service was shown online and therefore time was restricted.

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Confucius Institutes (CIs)

“Washington has required the centre that manages Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes (CIs) in the United States to register as a foreign mission, in a further sign of deteriorating bilateral relations.” (Reuters). According to the U.S. National Association of Scholars, there were 75 Confucius Institutes in the United States as of June, including 66 at colleges and universities. The second Confucius Institute worldwide was opened on the campus of the University of Maryland in November 2004. Worldwide, as of 2019, there are 530 Confucius Institutes in dozens of countries on six continents. The Chinese Ministry of Education estimates that 100 million people overseas were learning Chinese by 2010 and the program is expanding rapidly in order to keep up.

But Human Rights Watch said in its 2019 China report: "Confucius Institutes are extensions of the Chinese government that censor certain topics and perspectives in course materials on political grounds, and use hiring practices that take political loyalty into consideration."

The reason for the foreign mission registration given by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was that the Confucius Institute U.S. Center in Washington was “an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses.” Academic exchanges needed to take place without government intrusion, said David Stilwell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia.

The action follows the decision by the U.S. State and Education Departments to employ stricter monitoring of the institutes, which have been criticized in Congress and elsewhere as “de facto propaganda arms of China’s Communist government.” “Arizona State and San Diego State are the latest in a string of universities in the US to close down their CIs in recent months. Similar closures have taken place in the UK, France, Sweden, and Denmark. Canada's New Brunswick province has also announced the removal of some Confucius programmes from its public schools.”

China rejects all this criticism, calling it “politicized and baseless". "A Chinese official added that the institutes were open and transparent, and observed local laws and university rules, adding that China reserved the right to take further action.” Beijing has also now abandoned its Confucius Institute brand, switching to a new look as a centre for “language exchange and cooperation.”

But Pompeo said that “the United States wants to ensure that students on U.S. campuses have access to Chinese language and cultural offerings free from the manipulation of the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.”

Alex Joske, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, argues that completely disengaging with CIs may not be the right approach. “The government should work with universities to ensure they have effective internal mechanisms to resist foreign interference… Universities and the government should also seek to increase funding for Chinese-language programmes in order to reduce the appeal of Confucius Institutes and invest in greater expertise on China." (BBC)

Sources: Reuters, Wikipedia, BBC.

Pray that students in the USA and other nations would have opportunity to learn Chinese language and culture free from political influence.

Pray for the resolution of this issue between the US government (and other governments) with the Confucius Institutes and the Chinese government.

Pray that the Holy Spirit would be active amongst Confucius Institute staff and teachers, so that some would take advantage of their US and other locations to find the Lord Jesus personally.

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Chinese Students in the West

Over the past two decades, the number of students leaving mainland China to study abroad increased from 39,000 in 2000 to 662,100 in 2018. Chinese students form a large share of international students in many countries including the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom (East Asia Forum). Among these are nearly 370,000 Chinese students in the U.S. Apart from the immediate educational impact on these students, it is also an extremely important income stream for Western universities, indeed the financial stability of some of them could be threatened if there is a severe change of direction. But there is one area of high importance to Christians, which is that significant numbers of these students have found faith in the Lord Jesus during their time overseas.

But in the “new normal” (or non-normal) of the Covid-19 era, that trend may be about to change. “A British Council survey of 11,000 Chinese students over March–April 2020 found that 13 per cent were unlikely to return to study overseas, 22 per cent were likely to cancel their study plans and 39 per cent were undecided.”

One reason is whether the Chinese Middle Class will be able to pay high level student fees at foreign universities with the post Covid-19 economic slowdown.

Another compounding factor is that the Trump administration ordered that “international students who are pursuing degrees in the USA will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities have on-line courses”. Some schools, including Harvard and the University of Southern California, are opting for online-only instruction. More recently that US government order was reversed, but the situation is not clear.

At the same time the battle over China’s Confucius Institutes has not helped. “A US bipartisan report in 2019 blasted Confucius Institutes at more than 100 US universities as too strictly controlled by China and a threat to academic freedom.” In 2018 there were 548 institutes and nearly 2,000 Confucius classrooms in 154 countries, most of them at foreign universities or institutions. Beijing is now abandoning its Confucius Institute brand after a global backlash over censorship, switching to a new look as a centre for “language exchange and cooperation”. But in the current climate suspicions are high regarding China’s attempts to influence education and government in Western nations.

Then there is the fallout from the Hong Kong situation and other China-related issues. POST Magazine spoke of New York’s 2,300 Chinese students who attend the University of Rochester, 19 per cent of its student body. “Tunnel wars” broke out, with Chinese students of different political loyalties “using the university tunnels, which were built to allow warm passage between buildings during frigid winters, as a focal point for campus political discourse, and over the preceding few months the discourse has been ugly.”

Pray for wisdom for Western leaders in dealing with student visas from China and other lands in a very complex and hostile new world order.

Pray for the Lord to be working in the hearts and minds of Chinese students in a new way.

Pray for the Chrstian ministries that seek to reach out to Chinese students, to care for them and win them to Christ.

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Interview with Christina Winrich

In this interview Christina shares openly about the challenges and joys of serving God in another culture. She shares movingly of how the Lord redirected her towards “less than 1% Christian” Japan and about the hard work of mastering a second Asian language with characters.

 

For more on OMF Japan, go to: www.omf.org/asia/japan

Christina Winrich was born in Wisconsin, came to faith as a musician working in France and then rashly offered the Lord a whole year of her life to serve Him in missions! After taking 3 short-term mission trips (one to South America and two to China), she landed up on a a year’s cross-cultural programme run by our Antioch School of Missions in China. Her one year ultimately became five in China, largely spent using her skills as a special needs educator, then teaching oral English in a university. After that, she went for specific Bible training in Canada and eventually moved on to serve in Japan with Overseas Missionary Fellowship. In this interview Christina shares openly about the challenges and joys of serving God in another culture (or two!). She shares movingly of how the Lord redirected her towards “less than 1% Christian” Japan and about the hard work of mastering a second Asian language with characters (though it does have a kind of alphabet as well!)

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