One of the most dynamic Christian movements was launched onto the China scene by the Word of Life (WOL) movement. It all started with the evangelistic zeal of a handful of faithful believers three decades ago and has now grown and spread all over Henan and into other provinces. Humble farmers were chosen by God as powerful leaders of the movement. Regarded as “one of the most powerful, sustained revivals in Church history,” the WOL community is now recognized as the largest house church network in China, with approximately twenty million affiliated believers.
Statistics tell us that, by 1949, about 150 years after Protestant Christianity was introduced into China, there were fewer than one million Protestant Christians. This number gradually shrank for the next thirty years until there were rumors overseas during the height of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) in China that the Christian Church was no more on Chinese soil. However, three decades since the end of Cultural Revolution, Chinese Christianity has experienced phenomenal growth. A number of underground church movements came to be known in different regions of China, drawing in millions of believers. Huge house church networks came to form, stretching across provinces and regions. Statistical estimates indicate that, as of 2005, there were probably as many as fifty to eighty million Christians among the underground churches across China.
Why are churches growing in China? Why has the Word of Life church in particular been growing with such remarkable speed and to such a size? With all the restrictions and opposition against its existence and development, Christianity has taken root in the Chinese soil and has been spreading like a wild fire, seemingly unstoppable. What is it that has sustained such growth? What are some of the common patterns that we can observe from the expansion of the house churches in China? This book provides the answers to these questions.