FIRST STOP ON THE NEW SILK ROAD: KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet state, became independent in 1991. It is separated from Xinjiang by the Tianshan Mountain. Like other Central Asian countries, 80% of her 5-6 million population is Muslim. 10-15 years ago, she was enamored with China’s successful transition from planned economy to market economy. She welcomed Chinese people and Chinese businesses. But such favor has been squandered away over time.

Disenchantment with China

The Chinese government is supporting two Confucius Institutes and scores of Chinese teachers in Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately, unscrupulous Chinese traders make Kyrgyzstan a dumping ground for their inferior goods and counterfeits. Chinese businesses from construction companies to restaurants are often accused of exploiting their workers, disrespect for the local people and disregard for the environment. They are also infamously quick to pay bribes.

Challenges for Chinese Mission

Kyrgyzstan is a target destination for several sending churches in China. Unfortunately, Chinese missionaries doing business in the country have also become targets of corrupt officials. Chinese are generally not viewed favorably by the Kyrgyz people. To some extent, this is reminiscent of the problems that 19th century missionaries to China encountered because of the hated colonial exploits of their Western compatriots.

China’s missionaries to OBOR countries need business and professional skills to contribute to the development of emerging economies and earn the right to be heard. People in many of these countries are victimized by systemic poverty and corruption. 

The Gospel will be relevant and attractive if we demonstrate how the work-place and business practice could be redeemed and people’s lives improved.