As the Chinese economically invest in and build infrastructure in Africa, Africans are evangelizing the Chinese.
In 2014, trade between China and Africa reached an all-time high in 2014, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University and McKinsey & Company. Billions of dollars in loans from China to Africa in addition to foreign direct investment have increased significantly in recent years.
Meanwhile, as a result of the influx of Chinese resources and approximately 10,000 Chinese-owned companies, the estimated 227,000 to 1 million Chinese working on the continent are hearing the message of the Gospel from African evangelical Christians.
"Many local African churches have reached out to Chinese workers, including incorporating Mandarin into services. A number of Chinese, in turn, have welcomed the sense of community and belonging that these Christian churches offer," according to UnHerd Wednesday.
"And a small but growing number of ethnically Chinese missionaries from Taiwan and other countries are specifically targeting Chinese nationals in Africa, preaching to them with a freedom they’d never be allowed in the People’s Republic."
This connection to the Gospel presents a challenge to the Chinese government which has a long history of brutally persecuting Christians under Communist dictator Mao Zedong, oppression that has been reinvigorated today as crackdowns on churches are occurring again. The government has blown some of them up and has arrested whole congregations. The government hostility to religion extends beyond Christianity and its activities; the Uighur Muslims have been detained and abused in Chinese government-run camps, according to reports.
Some outside groups estimate that between 25 to 50 percent of the Chinese population are believers in some kind of religion, to the chagrin of the government.
When those evangelized Chinese Christians return home from Africa, they bring their new faith with them.
"Visitors to the coastal province of Fujian, for example, now hear South African accented English and see houses adorned with crosses. African migrants are also moving to China in larger numbers, many of them practitioners of very evangelistic forms of Pentecostal Christianity who are willing to flout the rules placed on religious activity in China," UnHerd reported.
"Despite its best efforts, China is losing its fight against Christianity, and the growing influx of citizens returning from Africa is shaping up to be another hopeless front in that war."
If U.S. State Department figures are any indication, the number of Christians in China is approximately 70 million. Should current growth rates continue apace, the nation will soon have more Christians than any other country in the world.
Last year, as The Christian Post noted, an official believed to be behind the forcible removal of 1,700 crosses from churches in eastern China was promoted by the Communist government, amid concerns it was a sign of increased of state-sponsored hostility.
ChinaAid President Bob Fu said in a previous interview with CP that "the top leadership is increasingly worried about the rapid growth of the Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence. It is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of Christians in the country far outnumber the members of the party."