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

21st Century China

Urbanisation

- China has a population of 1.4billion and 160+ cities with a population of over one million. This inclues 10 megacities with a population of 10 million+.
- 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.

Education

The region provides nine years of free compulsory education, consisting of primary school and junior secondary school for 6 – 15 year olds. 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.

Healthcare

A large-scale healthcare provision initiative began in 2009 and by 2011 resulted in 95% of China’s population having basic health insurance coverage.

A Diverse Region

There are as many as 292 living languages in China. While Mandarin is the official national language Mongolian, Uyghur, Tibetan, Zhuang and various other languages are also regionally recognized throughout the country.

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.

The Belt and Road

China’s Belt & Road Initiative is probably the largest investment project in history. China describes The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a “brand of cooperation”, characterised by peace, openness, inclusiveness and shared development. As of 2018, The BRI included agreements with 122 countries.

The Belt and Road Initiative is inspired by the ancient Silk Road trade routes. These included the “Maritime Silk Road”, which were shipping routes to Africa and Southeast Asia. They also included the overland routes, which stretched through northwest China to Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

The Silk Road regions of China and Central Asia have been highways of trade, commerce and cultural exchange since the Silk Road first began, over twenty centuries ago. As well as tea, spices and silk, Silk Road traders brought new technologies and religious faith with them. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity all entered the region along the ancient Silk Road trade routes. This region is now home to over 10 different Muslim people groups, each with their own language, culture and traditions. You can learn more about Muslims in East Asia here.

We long to see the people of the ancient Silk Road regions blessed by the abundant love of God.

Mekong Regions

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.

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Religions

  • 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.