One of the joys of learning about China is the discovery of phrases that sum up current social attitudes inside China. For example, “tang ping” (躺平) means choosing to ‘lie down flat’. It describes an attitude of opting out of jobs that demand long hours but do not pay well, leading to a more indifferent attitude towards life. There is also the ‘full-time children’, young workers who cannot find jobs and who therefore go home to be paid by their parents to handle all the household tasks. 

One of the latest expressions is ‘runology’. The Chinese character 润 has the basic meaning of ‘moist ‘or ‘nourish’. Metaphorically It means ‘profitable’ in Chinese, but its pronunciation and its Romanised spelling look and sound like the  English word ‘run’. That makes it a code word for ‘running away’ or emigrating overseas. The character for ‘study’, xue (学) is often added to it, making the meme something like ‘the study of running away’.

Jim Graham writing in ChinaSource sees this movement of emigration out of China as a great opportunity to reach Chinese people outside China. Graham observes two important “differences” in this wave of people leaving China.

1. Different choices of locations. For example, parents wanting to educate their children outside of China will have limited choices as they must choose any country that will allow their children to enter that country's school system.

2.   Different reasons for leaving. Graham lists “fleeing persecution, lack of religious freedoms, and educational and economic opportunities.” Often he has heard people "referring to ‘Xi JinPing thought’ as the reason for their leaving. Many parents want to get their children out of China to avoid ‘Xi thought.’”

Graham also lists one significant new factor. “Included in this wave of people leaving China we are finding former unregistered (or house) church leaders. These pastors, deacons, elders, and church members are bringing decades of experience of leading churches in China. They can plant diaspora churches that will reach more of those people that have recently left China. At this time there are efforts in several locations to see hundreds of Chinese-speaking house churches planted among these people.” 

In this column a month ago I wrote that “there are areas where Chinese Christians reside that do not have ministers nearby, especially in Eastern European countries like Romania, Belarus, Montenegro, and Latvia. The situation is not much better in Western Europe. In France, around 700,000 Chinese people are spread across cities like Paris, Lille, Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse. However, approximately 95% of Chinese churches and ministers are concentrated in Paris.” Perhaps these exiled pastors and leaders who are part of ‘runology’ are one aspect of God’s answer to the prayers of scattered Chinese believers, as they ask the Lord to send them shepherds to care for them!

Pray for:

1.   Parents and children who are part of this ‘runology’ movement who have settled in foreign lands where they are strangers. Pray that local churches will find them and care for them.
2.   Pray for Christians who are leaving China that they would put their future into the hands of the Lord and ask Him to lead them clearly to the place of His choosing.
3.   Pray for pastors and leaders who are leaving China that the Holy Spirit would give them a vision similar to Philip in Acts chapter 8 - to plant churches and win people to Christ wherever they are scattered.

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