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AND DEDICATED to one who "also serves" in a thousand ways with her faithful help - my wife.
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D., a party of foreigners from the distant West, a vague area known to the Chinese for many centuries as Ta Chinn, reached the capital city of the Great Chinese Empire, Ch'ang-An, later called Hsian-fu. They indicated that theirs was a religious mission to bring to the empire knowledge of the doctrines and salvation of Jesus Messiah.
The emperor gave them permission to practice their religion which he officially named the Ta Ch'in Chiao, the Ta Chinn religion.
How it fared in that confrontation is almost totally unknown.
The result is that when someone asks, "Where was the evangelical church of Christ during those long `Dark Ages' of Europe when the Church of Rome usurped the place of the Holy Spirit? The Iona colony of Scotland may be mentioned, or the later Waldenses of the Italian Alps, both involving small numbers.
Here is evidence that God gives strength and conversions in the direst and seemingly most impossible circumstances.
Here also is evidence that pitfalls to the church's mission always exist.
In those cases the only witness to the living may be the testimony of the dead, written on tombstones.
An illustration of such a voice out of the past is that of a ninth century Christian in a central Asian cemetery, where the gentle words still whisper, "This is the grave of Pasak - The aim of life is Jesus, our Redeemer." The lessons of history need to be studied for, as one sage noted, "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat its failures in the future." In the year 635 A.
Only a part of the story, however, of the Church of the East's missionary enterprise, from the second century to the end of the fourteenth, can be told here.