As we review how trade and missions reached the ancient world, we need to discern how God may work in our time as China’s One Belt One Road initiative impacts the countries and peoples in this vast region of the world that is the heart of the 10/40 Window. In the June 2016 issue of Great Commission Bi-monthly, Dr. Kim Kwong Chan outlined the OBOR missiological implications.
New International Trading Hubs
As a result of OBOR, scores of internationalized cities will develop along this New Silk Road to provide logistical, financial, legal and other support services for trade. These cities will expedite regional development as they draw businesses and professionals from around the world as well as indigenous job-seekers from the underdeveloped areas nearby. These international trading hubs will be prime locations for planting Christian communities.
Reaching Unreached People Groups
OBOR traverses the homelands of some of the hardest to reach people groups. But commercial activities, jobs, and the opportunity for a better future will draw them from previously isolated or inaccessible areas. Urban migration will change people’s lives and open their minds to new ideas, including the gospel.
Long-Term Witness to Local Populations
Islam was not brought to Asia primarily by Muslim missionaries. But as Muslim traders made their homes in China, India and Southeast Asia, and they became sustainable communities, mosques were built and imams brought in. They set up businesses and interacted with the local people. Nationals saw how they lived, worked and worshiped. In time, many converted to Islam.
Could Christian communities likewise be planted in 10/40 Window cities with schools, hospitals, community services and churches for long-term influence and witness?
A Call for Chinese-speaking Christians
As China’s influence grows in the OBOR countries, Putonghua will become an important trading language. This will translate into tentmaking and missional business opportunities for Chinese-speaking Christians around the world. With the mixed reputation of China businesses, Chinese-speaking Christian business people and professionals are all the more needed as light and salt in these countries.