Nestled in a little neighborhood in modern day Turkey is an ancient city that was only rediscovered in 2007 during illegal excavations. The great city of Germanicia was a cultural hub in Syria where a great hero among Chinese missionaries was born – Nestorius.
Nestorius taught the followers of Christ that Christian missionaries should not invade lands and transform them to look like their own culture, but should instead adopt the language, customs, and foods of the people that are being reached. This was a controversial teaching during the days when the church in Rome was insisting that all Christians – even those in foreign lands – look like those in western Europe. It was even against the law to read the Bible in any language other than Latin!
Nestorius challenged the missions methodology of the church in Rome and established a missionary movement that sent out missionaries around the world that made a huge impact. Between the 9th and 14th centuries the church founded by Nestorius represented the world’s largest Christian denomination in terms of geographical extent. They had a heart to reach every tribe and tongue with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They established churches, hospitals, dioceses and Christian communities stretching from the Mediterranean Sea throughout Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, China, Mongolia, and to Japan.
Unlike those before him though, Nestorius did not die at the hands of unbelievers, but at the hands of those that called themselves leaders in the church. Nestorius disagreed with the growing popularity of calling Mary the “Mother of God.” He argued that it is impossible for God to have a mother and instead argued that she be referred to as the “Mother of Christ.”
The growing religious influences at that time did not like his new teachings, had all of his writings burned, and had him exiled to the deserts of Egypt until his death.
Though his writings were burned and his body shipped out to the barren desert lands of Egypt, his ideas of missiology birthed in the border lands of modern day Syria were a carbon copy of the first century church and still serve as a template for missionaries from China today.
Lord, may the people of Syria have their eyes opened to see their true heritage. May they no longer be held by the lies of the enemy telling them that they are Muslim form birth because their fathers have always been Muslim, but may they understand that you gave them a new heritage and it leads to a brighter future.
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made, for a thousand generations,