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FAQ: How do you get into China? (by Ben Johnson)

I am going to begin a series on frequently asked questions. These are questions that I am asked nearly every day about life, ministry and such in relation to China. I wanted to add these posts to help people understand a little more easily about ministry in China.

This is actually a good question but I believe it has some baggage that comes along with it. As you may already know, Chinese has been a communist country since 1949. Because of that, doing missionary-type work is technically illegal. China is considered a closed or more accurately a creative-access country. That is where that baggage arrives.

Because it is creative access, many believe that it is very difficult to get visas to stay in the country. The unwritten rule is that you must have some other reason for being in China besides what you are actually doing. You must be able to make anyone’s suspicions disappear if asked why you are in China. This creates a perception that one must be creative to get into China. This perception is also based not in faith but in fear and it often handicaps the missionary.

When we look to go into China, we don’t look for the most creative route. We look for the easiest one that allows us the most time to do what God has called us to do. There are many options to get into China and none are difficult and all provide a valid means of staying.

The Tourist Route

This is the way we will begin our stay in China. We believe like our internship, we can get 6 month tourist visas. It does mean would have to exit the country after 6 months for a day or two but we can do that a relatively inexpensive cost by visiting a neighboring country. This will provide us the freedom to study the language and culture intensely for the first year. If we can stay on that visa the entire time then that would be ideal.

The University Student

After the first year, we will then move to this visa. To the best of our knowledge, there is a university in the city that only requires 6 hours of class for one person so that we all have visas. This would allow us to gain a great knowledge of the language while still not taxing us too much on time so that we are able to do the work of the ministry.

The Business Visa

Due to visa law changes, this route should work but we are unsure at the moment. If this one works out it once again provides a 6 month visa but it does not expire for years rather than a year. It is the best option for long-term ministry.

 

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