I almost went to China this year, but the State Department changed my plans. Just before October's state dinner honoring Chinese President Jiang Zemin, National Association of Evangelicals president Don Argue received an invitation to be one-third of a delegation of American religious leaders to discuss religious policy with political leaders in China. That was fitting, as China had been the focus of debate on the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and religious persecution overseas, and Argue had been a key activist in raising public awareness of persecution.

Argue in turn asked me to be the delegation's scribe. I enthusiastically accepted, but just weeks before the trip, I was disinvited by the State Department. A professional journalist, they said, would make Chinese leaders less than candid.

Instead of my report, we present in this issue an exclusive interview with Argue about the meaning of his three-week trip across the vast land of China and his reading of top government officials there (see p. 34 ff.).

Other recent travelers contributed to Tim Morgan's cover story (p. 30 ff.). Among them is Carol Thiessen, CT's administrative editor. Carol serves on the board of Norwegian Mission Alliance-USA, the American offspring of a Scandinavian agency, which supports a polio rehabilitation center in Jiangsu Province. The facility currently serves about 90 of the 900 children seriously affected by a 1989 polio outbreak.

On a previous trip to China, Carol saw the tourist sights. This May she focused on ministry and conducted a rare two-hour, one-on-one interview with Dr. Han Wenzao, president of the China Christian Council.

Bruce Brander has been traveling since he joined the merchant marine at age 18. Since then he has traveled the world as a journalist and photographer for such organizations as the National Geographic Society and World Vision. Having been almost everywhere else on the globe, Brander visited China for the first time this May with Chinese evangelist George Chen. Brander and Chen traveled to remote areas by modes of transport as common as a truck and as exotic as a sedan chair.

Sociologist Tony Carnes, president of the New York-based Research Institute on Values Changes, studies values shifts in China, Russia, and the U.S. Carnes, who is married to a Chinese-American, says he has fallen in love with village life in rural China and loves to sit around talking with villagers while eating watermelon and spitting out the seeds.

Alex Buchan, the Hong Kong-based Asia bureau chief for Compass Direct News Service, also contributed to our cover story. According to CT's news editors, Buchan's commentary has become a must-read for leaders of Christian ministries working in Asia.

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