Bringing Chinese Christianity to Southeast Asia: Constructing Transnational Chinese Evangelicalism across China and Southeast Asia, 1930s to 1960s

Activity: Talk/lecture/symposium/speechEvent organized by non-HKBU units

Description

Presented paper in the Asia Research Institute workshop Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones: Alternative Imaginaries of China’s Presence in Southeast Asia in Contemporary Contexts.

Abstract:
Scholars have made commendable advances in analysing the agency of Chinese Christians in translating and producing local versions of their faith in China. Yet, little work has been done on examining them as transnational agents of Christianity. Through the use of previously-neglected primary sources, this paper offers an interpretation of how a group of Chinese evangelical leaders initiated and constructed their visions and versions of transnational Christianity across China and Southeast Asia in the 1930s to 1960s. Two representative organisations are examined. The first concerns the transnational network of Chinese evangelistic bands that the prominent revivalist-evangelist John Sung established across China and Southeast Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. The bands’ sources reveal how they played a key role in imbuing a transnational landscape and common-sense of spiritual revival into the imaginations of the Chinese churches, making them consumers and producers of revival. The second case evaluates the cross- border institutional-building work of the Evangelize China Fellowship, a major transnational Chinese evangelical denomination founded by Sung’s colleague Andrew Gih after World War II. The analysis reveals how the Fellowship utilised a faith-based developmental agenda to promote Christianity among the overseas Chinese communities across Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1950s to 1960s. This agenda emphasised the building of an array of institutions that groomed Chinese Christians to serve their respective host countries. In all, paying attention to Chinese Christian imaginaries of Southeast Asia enables us to understand how they connected faith adherents living across Asia into transnational ethno-religious communities.
Period13 Aug 2020
Held atAsia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Degree of RecognitionInternational