Does This Chinese Man Really Need A Turn Or Burn Placard?

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This man in China is holding a “turn or burn” placard that says, 不信耶稣下地狱,信耶稣上天堂 translation: “You’ll go to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus but you’ll get to heaven if you believe in him.”

So here’s a question for you: How has the “turn or burn” message resonated with you? Has it inspired you to follow Jesus with all your heart? Has it helped you to understand God’s grace in your life? 

I have lived and ministered in China for nearly 15 years, but have never seen this approach to sharing the gospel message. No doubt, it is not a common sight, in part due to governmental restrictions for public proselytizing. I—alongside the underground Chinese Church—appreciate how persecution has helped the growth of Christianity in China.

Growth of the Christian gospel has mushroomed on a macro scale via the micro relationships and shared graces of individuals and small house churches. Since 1949, when all foreign missionaries were kicked out of China, through the Cultural Revolution, horrific persecution, all the way till the Bamboo Curtain finally reopened in 1978, millions upon millions of Chinese came to know the salvation message of the persecuted and now risen Savior.

They didn’t need turn or burn placards during China’s Cultural Revolution.

So why now? How has culture so shifted that this man feels he needs a ministry style tool such as this—a placard with the text “You’ll go to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus but you’ll get to heaven if you believe in him”?

China’s Christian growth is astounding. The revival boom continues. The Holy Spirit has done and is doing the work—usually despite our feeble attempts at ministry! I am speaking to myself and Within Reach Global as well.

We will continue to do our best to lead people into the kingdom of God. Many of our ministry ideas are decent. Others are completely useless. But with whatever intentions people preach, we, like Paul, rejoice that the name of Jesus is being proclaimed.

In the end, God gets the glory, because he’s the one doing the true hard part of changing hearts.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global

David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.

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  • Just curious to know if it’s the mans’ approach in delivering this message or this message itself that your raising questions about. If it’s the message itself, do you believe it’s incomplete, or just entirely wrong? Thanks.

    • Dave, thanks so much for asking!

      The message itself is correct, There is no other way to heaven but through Christ. And we will all face the judgement seat of God. But the approach seems quite different to how I imagine Jesus would have done things! To note: I do appreciate his boldness! That’s one thing that is lacking in many of our lives. I don’t think this is entirely wrong. In fact, I have often stood up for those groups that may seem a bit radical in their approach, but could only seem radical because the rest of us are so lethargic! So, I appreciate his boldness, the message is correct, but I believe there are more relevant ways to reach our cities and communities for Christ. I like a healthy transfer of spiritual DNA, and that only comes through a deeper connection and a digging into the issues in someone’s life. I like how Jesus did this often by addressing—in very different methods for each person—the things within their hearts. May God give us grace to follow in his footsteps with love and grace that our fruit would remain.

      • Appreciate the response bro.
        I agree with the first part of what you said about the message being correct. (Although, surely there is more to be said/explained.)
        I agree in part & disagree in part with your explanation though. We see Jesus in Mark 1 proclaiming the gospel saying “Repent & believe in the gospel.” Also John the Baptist in Matthew 3 preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And in the book of Acts the disciples “everyday..did not cease teaching & preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
        I think sometimes the ways that we’re bent and/or gifted can tend to be the lenses we see through as to how ministry should be done. Not that I think what that man’s doing is the only way, but we can’t discount what he’s doing just because it wouldn’t be an approach we would take. You mentioned that you “believe there are more relevant ways to reach our cities & communities for Christ” but God very well may be using that man & the sign to speak to those who read as they pass by. Not to say it’s the only form of ministry that should/can be done, but it is one of many. I have heard people say similar things about tracts or sharing Christ with someone you’ve just met not being effective modes of ministry. I disagree.
        We see Jesus preaching to repent & believe in Mark 1, and we see him conversing with the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus ministry was multi-faceted, and the body of Christ’s will be as well & I think we should embrace all Biblical forms of evangelism/engaging even if we wouldn’t participate in them personally.
        Thanks bro.

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