itinerant evangelists (Protestant)

Itinerant evangelists have been the primary agency by which Christianity (Protestantism) has spread since about 1980. Travelling evangelists, who bring the gospel to a community and stay a few days or weeks before moving on, represent both the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and house church sectors of Protestantism (see house churches), although much more the latter, because the former operates under restrictions limiting the range of travel of local TSPM evangelists. House church and quasi-Christian sectarian evangelists observe no such limitations and, while vulnerable to harassment or arrest, are also quite effective.
Itinerant evangelism dates back to the earliest missionaries of the nineteenth century. In the first few decades of the twentieth century, Chinese evangelists such as Dora Yu (Yu Cidu, 1873–1931), Ding Limei (1871–1936), Wang Mingdao (1900–91), John Sung (Song Shangjie, 1901–44) were important figures on the Christian scene, travelling to cities and towns more than the countryside.
Today’s evangelists draw somewhat on this tradition, but are also different in several aspects. They work more often in the countryside and villages, where control is more lax than in cities. Young people, especially young women, often in their mid-teens, are common among their ranks. They often have only minimal formal education. Typically the message they present is Pentecostal, with faith healing (see faith healing (Christian)) prominent, and some preach a distorted—in the opinion of some orthodox believers, heretical message. Some evangelists represent well-organized house church groups, while others are entrepreneurial and operate individualistically. Itinerant evangelism is one of the most important and interesting features of the Protestant movement today.
DANIEL BAYS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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