In 1865, James Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission (CIM) and prayed for “willing, skillful workers” to join him. He had just £10, and “all the promises of God”. Taylor prayed with all his heart, and God met all his needs.
In 1866 Hudson Taylor, his wife children and 16 missionaries left England for China. Eager to reach the inland provinces of China with the gospel, the China Inland Mission called churches throughout the world to prayer. CIM sent out a total of 2,680 workers to China between 1866 and 1950.
Taylor believed the gospel would only take root if missionaries were willing to identify with the culture of the people they wanted to reach. These 2,680 workers learnt the local language and culture. Their lives were a living testimony to the people they lived among.
Today, as OMF, we hold to the same belief of Hudson Taylor. 156 years on, our work continues with that same pioneering spirit and that same vision. The same desire resonates through everything that we do: to see an authentic Christian witness flourish in China and beyond, all across East Asia.
Rapid Development: 21st Century China
The percentage of the population living in urban areas has increased from 20% in 1980 to over 60% in 2019.
With 2m people migrating to the cities each year the urban population in China is expected to reach one billion by 2030.
50% of secondary school graduates were enrolled to tertiary school in 2018 and 96% of the population over 15 was literate.
The education system has an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Zhonghua Minzu (Chinese nation) is comprised of 56 distinct ethnic groups.The Han Chinese make up more than 90% of the population. The 55 ethnic groups found in the region include Zhuang, Hui, Manchu, Yughur, Mao, Yi, Yujia, Tibetan, Mongol etc.
- Non-religious 44.4%
- Chinese religions 28.5%
- Buddhist 12.5%
- Christian 5.3%
- Traditional ethnic religions 4.6%
- Muslim 1.9%
The dominant worldview is shaped by a blend of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Muslim minority peoples number 20 million. It is illegal to teach religion to anyone under 18.
The Silk Road
The Silk Road regions of China and Central Asia have been highways of trade, commerce and cultural exchange since the Silk Road first began. That was over twenty centuries ago!
Tea, spices and silk and other treasures were traded from Europe to Asia via the perilous deserts and mountain ranges of Central Asia and Western China. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all entered East Asia along these Silk Road trade routes. This region is now home to over 10 different Muslim people groups, each with their own language, culture and traditions.
In the 21st Century, we find the ancient Silk Road regions once again bustling with trade and cultural exchange.
China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), inspired by the Silk Road, has become the largest investment project in history. As of 2021, The BRI included agreements with 145 countries .
We long to see the people of the ancient Silk Road regions blessed by the abundant love of God.
The Awesome Mekong River
The Mekong River flows from China, along the borders of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, through Cambodia & Vietnam. Many different people groups live in the areas through which the river flows.
The diversity of peoples within the Mekong region is visible through the tremendous range of languages and cultures represented between them.