The Light on the Silk Road
Jesus tells us that He will return once there is a witness for the gospel in all nations: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14
The old Silk Road spans across China and the Middle East
In the first century AD until about 500 AD the spread of Christianity traveled from the Middle East to most areas throughout the Roman Empire. By the time Islam was established in Mecca (sometime after Muhammad’s death in 632 AD), Christianity had already reached the western and northern territories of Europe. During the Middle Ages (approximately 500 AD until about the 15th century), Europe became the center for Christianity. And by the end of the 18th century, Christianity dominated the entire western world, reaching as far as the Americas. It was during this time that Western missionaries began their work as ambassadors for Christ to the un-evangelized continent of Africa and countries to the far-east, such as India and China.
|As Christianity continued to grow, Islam had also spread to various areas of the world. Starting from Saudi Arabia, it encroached upon the already Christianized areas of the Middle East, then traveled throughout North Africa, upwards to Russia, east through Central Asia via the Silk Road, and finally into the northwestern region of China.|
One such missionary was Dr. Robert Finley, who went to China nearly 60 years ago. At that time, he found there were fewer than one million Chinese who called themselves Christian – and of those, less than half were truly born-again believers. Then, in 1949 the communists took over, and all foreign missionaries were expelled from the country.
But just about the same time as Dr. Finley’s departure from China 60 years ago, and unbeknownst to Finley or any other Western missionary, Chinese indigenous missionaries had already begun a very long walk. Traveling along the Silk Road from eastern China, they walked over 1,000 miles before reaching the western province of Xinjiang (meaning “new frontier”). It was the original homeland of Turks who were driven westward by the Mongolians in the 13th century. This area is populated with the Uyghur people who speak a Turkic language, common along the Silk Road extending as far as modern day Turkey. These dedicated Chinese Christians evangelized with passion, as they risked their lives under communism, spreading the gospel light along this part of the Silk Road.
The harvest is ripe in the marketplace along the Silk Road in Central Asia.
Because of the fervor of indigenous missionaries like these, and their establishment of underground "house churches," Christianity is spreading throughout all Asia and now (60 years later) it is estimated that there are over 100 million Christians in China alone.
For the past ten years Christian Aid has assisted these indigenous missionaries in their outreach to Chinese Muslim Turks in Xingiang. Many Christians believe that in God’s time the gospel light will move back to Jerusalem via the Silk Road.