God’s Guerrilla Marketing in China

March 22, 2023

After reading the stories coming out of china I questioned my own experience. Why is it so easy for people in China to pray for others? Whereas, here in the West, we don't have people seeking out a christian to pray for healing. In the West, many dismiss the idea, most are just indifferent, in any case it is a very different response. In China, religious concern over matters of health and physical well-being is fueled by two factors: culture and economics. The two factors reveal how God has providentially set up China to be open to prayers for divine healing. 

1. Socioeconomic level

At the socioeconomic level, there is a lack of medical care for the majority of the people. Chronic illness is the number one cause of impoverishment in China. [1] Contrary to the political promises of the CCPD, 75 years of socialism has only produced a scandalous insufficiency of medical care for a majority of the population.

“Medical care has long benefited a privileged elite only…Medical care in China is not free, and often doctors must be bribed to gain their full attention. Health insurance systems are nonexistent in rural areas, and large segments of China's peasant population can simply not afford to seek sound treatment in the cities, while the cheaper doctors at the village and township levels are usually poorly trained.” [2] 

The lack of medical care has led to a desperation among many for healing. Such a need is often an open door to receive prayer. 

2. Religious/cultural level 

Chinese people have always put a strong focus on health, diet, and spiritual and physical energies as understood by Daoism. Daoism is a truly indigenous Chinese religion and it has a lot to say about the topic. Daoist alchemy forms the basis for much of the Chinese view of health. In Daoism, physical well-being is seen as an outward sign of the believer's harmony with the Dao, whereas illness is understood as a symptom of religious imperfection. It developed theories about the connection between sin and sickness, meditation and healing. Spiritual purification is obtained through prayer and meditation.  The practicer of the Dao was viewed as going to the root of sickness as it enabled them to appease the evil spirits or correct any imbalance responsible for maladies. [3]  Daoism’s answers to human problems of sickness are intriguing half-truths which, from a Christian perspective, make for whole lies. Yet, its larger influence allows for an openness to healing prayers by the general population.   

Unlike the materialistic Western mindset, the Chinese mindset, influenced by Daoist thinking, holds as plausible the idea that physical problems can have spiritual solutions. Ideas such as: evil spirits can afflict the body, or, prayer can bring real, measurable healing. These ideas are seen as suspect or outright ridiculed in the Western medical establishment. Yet in China, these ideas, as they are understood on a cultural and popular level, make for an openness to alternative means of healing. Thus, people are open to the possibility of prayer for divine healing and even deliverance as a means of healing. Due to this openness, Christian believers do not shy away from telling unbelievers (often neighbors and friends) who are ill they should believe in Jesus for their recovery. This is not to say that signs and wonders are not needed in the West. That is most definitely not the case. It is to point out that we have particular hurdles to overcome that are not present in China. 

The Chinese context is one of a need for healing and an openness when it comes to divine healing. The numerous reports of divine healings, especially in the rural areas, often open the way for outsiders to ask for prayer. The result is that unbelievers who do not find a cure within the established medical system often seek out Christians and ask them for prayer so that they can be healed. This has led to a rather forthright approach on the side of Christians. Oblau quotes Zhang Guangming, a peasant evangelist in Yunnan Province. Zhang explains the way he prepares unbelievers for prayer. He often begins by telling non-Christians who request his prayer for healing: “I will gladly pray for you to my God. But if you don't recover, you must not blame me. And if you recover, you should not thank me but give thanks to my God.” [4]. Oblau goes on to explain how God has used this man to lead whole villages to the Lord. The pattern outlined by the evangelist is indicative of the method used by many believes in China. 

Healing is considered a sign of the kingdom. Jesus taught his disciples that when someone is healed to tell them the kingdom has come near (Luke 10:9). So, when people are healed, we know that the kingdom has come in power. To use a modern metaphor, “signs of the kingdom” are the purest form of gorilla marketing. [5] Guerrilla marketing is a marketing tactic in which a company uses surprising and/or unconventional interactions in order to promote something. It often relies on small scale, personal interaction to get the word out in a particular location rather than through sensational ads or celebrity endorsements in a widespread “blitzkrieg” media campaign.  While the gospel is no product but rather the power of God unto salvation, and the kingdom is no gimmick, but God’s rule and reign made evident on the earth, we can see parallels between the way God moves in power and this marketing concept. A local church is nothing more than a small band of believers taking hold of the responsibility for getting the word out in a particular location who use surprising and unconventional interactions that involve the kingdom coming in power.  It is also important to note that when power is experienced in a smaller context, through personal interaction, it is more easily pastored but can also be highly leveraged for the kingdom. 


[1] Katrin Fiedler, “The Growth of the Protestant Church in Rural China,”  China Study Journal  (Spring– Summer 2008): 49

[2] Gotthard Oblau,  “Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China,” in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, Edt. Candy Gunther Brown (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 

[3] M. Kobayashi, “The Celestial Masters under the Eastern Jin and Liu-Song Dynasties,”  Taoist Resources  3.2 (May 1992): 17–46.  

[4] Gotthard Oblau,  “Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China,” in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, Edt. Candy Gunther Brown (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 312

[5] The term is a bit dated but still common among the marketing chads and bros.  https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/guerrilla-marketing.asp.


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