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Christian stewardship vital for China

HONG KONG (SE): “Having been involved with China long enough to remember when ordinary citizens needed ration cards to purchase basic necessities, I can also recall my shock and surprise when I first saw advertisements for a new weight loss programme plastered on the side of a bus in a prosperous southern Chinese city,” Brent Fulton writes in the August 10 edition of China Source.

Fulton marvels that within 30 years, China has moved from being a nation still struggling to feed its people to being the world’s second largest economy.

However, he also argues that the sudden and unprecedented economic growth, which is stretching beyond the vast nation’s ability to fuel, is a call for responsible stewardship.

He describes the key question as whether China will also become more generous, or whether increased wealth without generosity will negatively affect China’s future social and environmental development.

Fulton says, “A significant part of the answer may be found in China’s growing Church, whose membership numbered three to four million in the 1970s, but today is estimated at 68 million or more.”

He observes, “As the Church becomes increasingly urban, with Christians having access to more resources and moving into positions of influence, their understanding of biblical stewardship becomes a key factor in their witness and role in society.”

Fulton says that he believes that organisations outside of China that fund much of the activity of Christian Churches on the mainland need to be more aware of the need to encourage good stewardship of God’s creation.

“This is particularly relevant and urgent for Chinese-led ministries that have been receiving support from overseas during the past three decades and will need to transition to an indigenous funding base to sustain them in the future,” he says.

Fulton believes that Christians in China may be in a position to lead the building of a culture of generosity and challenge the current drift in economic and social mores.

“Christians in business could provide a welcome counterbalance to the ethically adrift culture pervading China’s commercial world. Biblical attitudes regarding stewardship of the environment could promote models of sustainability that are desperately needed given China’s continued economic growth and environmental degradation,” he writes.

However, he points out that to effect a cultural change in this area, a multi-faceted approach is necessary.

 

“The obstacles are huge, but so is the potential for impact as the Church leads the way in addressing one of the key issues in China’s rapidly developing society,” Fulton concludes.

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