Chinese citizens who have gone to work in Africa are converting to Christianity — and bringing their newfound religion home despite an uptick in persecution.
As a result of the influx of Chinese resources and approximately 10,000 Chinese-owned companies in Africa, the estimated 227,000 to 1 million Chinese working on the continent are hearing the message of the Gospel from African 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.
"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."
When those evangelized Chinese Christians return home from Africa, they bring their new faith with them, the outlet notes.
"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."
The government's repression against Christianity is being done in the name of President Xi Jinping's "sinicization" campaign, which seeks to strengthen Chinese culture and protect the state from Western influence.
Last year, President Xi issued draconian new regulations for religious affairs which saw the arrest of 100,000 or more Christians and the destruction of several churches and rooftop crosses. In some parts of the country, Christian symbols are being torn down and sometimes replaced with pictures of President Xi.
"China isn't backing away from the religious persecution; it seems to be expanding," said Sam Brownback, the US ambassador international religious freedom, said last year. China has once again been listed among the US State Department's 10 worst religious freedom violators.
Still, there are an estimated 93 to 115 million Protestants currently in China — and should current growth rates continue apace, the nation will soon have more Christians than any other country in the world.