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Job and his wife became Christians the same way most Chinese do: A friend who was visiting the couple in their home simply shared the gospel. "She came for 24 hours, and she preached the gospel for 20," Job says of an evening five years ago.

This is how Christianity spreads in China: person to person. Until recently, churches didn't sponsor public evangelistic outreach or anything else that officials might perceive as disrupting order.

As quickly as Job and his wife became Christians, the couple, both medical doctors and professors, encountered the biggest obstacle to Christianity in China. Where was the church? Job now knows there are plenty of churches in his city, but he knew of none five years ago. So under the advice of their friend, they started a Bible study. Within four months they had 100 attendees, and it was time to start a church.

Job was accustomed to working with government officials, security officers, and other influential people in his city of 7.8 million people. As a doctor, he regularly treated local Party officers. He saw no need for his church to meet clandestinely. Rather, Job met with officials monthly, keeping them informed of the church's activities, even inviting them to Christmas and Easter services. Job and his wife now rent office space and do not hide the fact that it's for church services.

Job is consciously avoiding the traditional approach that unregistered house churches once used. "The old house-church movement's relationship with the government is confrontational," he says. "We are looking at coexisting. For them to ask anything of us, we will look at it, and if it's proper, we will do our best to cooperate." Last Christmas, Job's church, together with urban house churches across China, worked ...

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May 2008

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