Around 1985, when I was a young missions researcher, an old missions researcher named Leslie Brierley, born 1911, was helping me write a book.
I had described how the opportunities for Christian missions in China had closed down around 1949 with the communist takeover.
1985 was less than ten years after the death of Mao, and less than 20 years after the peak of the cultural revolution in 1969 when not a single Christian church met publicly in the whole country. Few glimmers of news had emerged since.
My 23-year-old apprentice self ventured some pessimism about the gospel in China. My 74-year-old mentor begged to differ:
“I feel that we are in for some surprises with regard to the Church in China, for in the 21st century (I shan’t live to see it but you can tell me when you arrive in Glory) the Chinese will be one of the greatest waves of missionary outreach in the world.”
Estimates of 100m Christians in China are contested but mainstream today.
I look forward to telling Leslie.