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Hi everyone, my name is Abby. I am working as a campus minister serving Chinese students in the US. Today I want to share with you how to minister to Chinese students.

I was born in China and became a Christian in China when I was in college. I can see that it is very important to preach the Gospel to college students. I think all of you will agree with it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here today. But why ministering to Chinese international students is important? I will give you the following reasons.

First: I want to share with you about God’s heart for China. Since the first missionary came to China two hundred years ago, Chinese church is growing with suffering. Chinese church also carries the great commission; especially bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem. Back to Jerusalem is the goal of the Chinese church to evangelize the unreached peoples from eastern provinces of China, westwards towards Jerusalem. The vision was birthed among the Chinese in the 1920s, and since that time, the churches of China have strove and even suffered persecution to fulfill what they believe is their integral role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Ministering to Chinese students coming to the US can help with fulfilling this great commission.

There are about 660,000 Chinese students studying oversea in 2017. And over 85% of them are going back to China.

According to Opendoors 2017, almost 1/3 of the international students in the US are from China. That is over 350,000 Chinese students! Among these Chinese students, over 80% of them are going back to China.

There is a big harvest field among overseas Chinese students. And I believe many of them going back to China to be leaders in different fields in China. Think about sharing the Gospel to one of them, and that person going back home to make a big impact in China and also can help the fulfill the great commission. It is really an exponential impact.

I myself became a Christian through a returning student from the US. When I was a sophomore in college in Beijing, a classmate told me about Jesus, but I was not interested in Christianity then. Two years later, she invited me to a Christmas Eve party. That night I heard sermon from a professor of Qinghua University. He was an international student in the US. While he was studying in the US, he kept going to church to argue with people since he was an atheist. He thought that believing in God is a stupid thing. Later, he found out that a lot of his respected professors and his classmates were going to church too. So he started to study the Bible seriously. Finally he became a Christian. He told us that there is a God and He has a good plan for our life. I was touched by his testimony and decided to accept Jesus as my Savior and my Lord. I am thankful that I can be a campus minister ministering to Chinese students in the US now. Some of them has already gone back home and made a big impact.

I believe it is definitely a good timing to share the Gospel with the Chinese students. You can tell from the next three points.

Point one: China is growing economically and sending a lot of students to the US as I said before. The international students here really have open hearts. They want to learn and grow. In my organization about 80% of the international students coming to Bible study are Chinese.

Point two: China has been a country of paganism and idol worshipping for over three thousand years. In the past seventy years, after the communist party came to power, a lot of religions including Christianity have been taken down. The atheism belief has created a spiritual void in Chinese people’s heart. People are thirsty for spiritual truth and God (although a lot of them don’t acknowledge that God exists nor they need Him). That is why Buddhism and a lot of folk religion are more popular in China now. Meanwhile, a lot of people’s hearts are softer towards the Gospel. Only Jesus can fill the spiritual void in people’s heart.

Point three: current social situation in China has also created a lot of thirst in people’s heart. Pollution, broken families, materialism, social injustice etc. are happening. Although US is becoming more secular too, people can still feel more democratic and free here. Especially when Christians show them non-conditional love, they are surprised and touched a lot.

So it is very important to minister to Chinese students in the US.

Next part I want to talk about how to minister to Chinese students.

I want to divide them into three generations: students born pre-1980 I will call them Pre-80s, students born after 1980 and before 1990, I will call them Post-80s, students born after 1990, I will call them Post-90s. There are big differences among these three generations. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. We need to know them first and then minister to them according to who they are.

For Chinese students studying overseas, most of them here are post-90s. However, it is still very important to know about pre-80s and post-80s, because you can see the development of the Chinese society and where the post 90s are from.

After the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has experienced “Three Year’s Famine” and “Ten Year’s Culture Revolution”. They led to decline of a lot of religions, poverty and destruction to pro-80s. Most people are communist and atheist. However the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 has shaken people’s dream of communism. People in China held anger in their hearts. Overseas Chinese including a lot of Chinese students start to go to church and became Christians.

Generally speaking, pre-80s are Conservative. They are not very open to the Gospel. They struggle with God’s creation and evolution a lot. They are cautious when they are influenced to believe in or commit to something. In their hearts, they are pursuing success and meaning of life. They are a generation needing a lot of healing.

Social justice will be a good topic to touch their hearts. Showing hospitality can be a good way to start a relationship with them. Later you can invite them to Bible studies. Processing rationally about the faith is very important for them. Of course, experiencing God can speed up the process.

I will share with you a story of how a pre-80s became a Christian. She was a professor in a university. One of her students got killed at Tiananmen Square protests. That day she was reading the Bible, Genesis 9:6 suddenly jumped out to her: Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. She was crying over it and knew that God was speaking to her. So she became a believer, later a pastor. You can tell from this story that “social justice” issue is really important for pre-80s.

In 1978 president Dengxiaoping started Chinese Economic Reform. The economic growth of China after 1978 is huge. Also China has become a mixture of politically communism and economically more capitalism from then. Comparing to pre-80s, post-80s’ faith situation is more diverse. A lot of them are skeptical about and communism. But a lot of them are still atheists.

They are more open-minded. However, not like the generation before, who respect authorities a lot, they can show ignorance to the authorities. Also, because of the One-Child Policy that started in 1979, post-80s are more spoiled and self-centered. They are high competitive under the pressure of their parents. More of them start to come oversea to pursue their success.

They are more relational than the pre-80s generation. So ministering to them can start with friendships and showing love. They are also a generation pursuing a lot about their identity and meaning of life. Talking about meaningful and deep issues is a good bridge to the Gospel too.

I have already shared with you my story of how I became a Christian. After I became a Christian, God gave me an English name Abigail through the girl who led me to Christ. Later, when I read the Bible, 1 Samuel 25:3 has been highlighted to me. It is said that Abigail was an intelligent and beautiful woman. Intelligent and beautiful happened to be the meaning of my Chinese name. I knew that God has picked this name for me. He is speaking about my identity through this name. Yes, finding identity in Jesus is a very important for post-80s.

The economic growth of China is huge after 1990. Growing under the economic thriving, post-90s is a different generation. Communism becomes more like a slogan and symbol for them. They are high tech generation. They are more open-minded, carefree, artistic, adventurous and relational. They are eager to have role models in their lives. Postmodernism has affected them a lot. So they dislike autocratic, authoritative and closed culture or social systems.

A lot of Post- 90s in the US are the second generation of wealthy family. They focus on entertainment and hedonism a lot. They embrace non-mainstream popularity and individual differences

However, many of there are from broken families. There is high divorce rate in China nowadays. Also some of their parents are workaholics. They are raised by their grandparents. There are high rate of cohabitation and homosexuality among the Chinese students in the US.

Faith wise they are more diverse: they can be atheist, agnostic, theistic or seek after mystical things, like horoscopes, fortune telling, etc.

They are a generation desperate for love and sincere relationships. So being sincere and their friends first are important. Also being role models of them as they will always observe or “feel about” you.

There are different ways to reach out to them: all kinds of activities, host families,
music, arts and other creative activities. Lastly, very important: media and Internet. However, different people have different interests; so above all, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit when you reach out to them.

The post-90s have more freedom and resources to pursue their identity and destiny. Activities around these two topics can always be attractive to them.

Also, this is a generation pursuing a lot into the supernatural realm. Hollywood has stirred up their curiosity. But we know that only God can fulfill this desire in the right way. Walking in the spiritual gifts and creating a Jesus-centered culture is important as we minister to them.

For the testimony of post-90s, I will share with you a story of a Chinese student studying in the US. She got to know her Christian host family through my organization. Later, she started to join their Bible study. One day, when they went to church together, the pastor was preaching about Hebrews 13:5:never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. She was very moved by it. She was from a wealthy family, however never got enough love from her parents. She always felt very lonely. This verse has spoken into her heart. Feeling love is important for every generation. Very important when you share the Gospel with post-90s.

After reviewing these three generations, I want to you to be aware of some pitfalls when you minister to Chinese students.

First: be sensitive to Chinese indirect communication.
Second: be sensitive to Shame&honor culture.
Third: be sensitive to their bond back home.
Fourth: as the background of idol worship and atheism, they need some healing and deliverance.
Fifth: prepare them in the US to go back home when you start to minister to them. It is never too early. Help them to read and pray in their own languages, help them to find Chinese churches and can have some time grow and serve in Chinese Christian communities.

Finally I have some encouragement from three scriptures:

First, in Luke 8 Jesus talks about different soils. Find a person of good soil.

Second: in 1 Corinthians 13:13 Paul talks about that “now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Third: we need the power from the Holy Spirit to minister as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:4, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.”

I have also listed some useful resources, as you are minister to Chinese students.

First, I strongly recommend a book, Song of a Wanderer.

Second, study more about indirect communication, and the culture of shame and honor.

Last, I want to recommend some channels on YouTube and also Good TV as you can find a lot of Chinese testimonies there.

God bless you and your ministry.

Connecting to Chinese Students


Almost one-third of all international students in the U.S. hail from China. Abby offers ways you can join her in loving and serving Chinese students, so that they will return to China with a passion to share the Gospel in their homeland and beyond.

Almost one-third of all international students in the U.S. hail from China. Abby offers ways you can join her in loving and serving Chinese students, so that they will return to China with a passion to share the Gospel in their homeland and beyond.