Friday, April 06, 2012

Prayer for China: A 365 Day Global Prayer Journey - April 6 (Day 97)

Today we continue to pray for China as a whole. Please glance through pages 214-226, focusing on pages 217-222 ("General" and "The Church in China").

Today we are blessed to have a special guest blogger, a missionary whose name and location are not mentioned for security reasons. Otherwise except for some minor typo corrections and bolding for emphasis, I'm posting what he sent just as he sent it. You'll notice he uses the asterisk (*) on occasion for certain words - that helps protect him from the internet filters and government censors. Please prayerfully read through his insights which add depth and understanding to the section from OW on the church in China. Then, for today's prayer time, please watch the video below and enter into prayer with this Chinese woman praying for her country, along with however else God leads you to pray over the section we are focusing on today. 
I’ve been in China a few years and lived in 3 cities.

Firstly, from my limited experience, I would say for China in general: there is a need to pray for what is sometimes called the urban ch*rch movement. In the past the Chinese ch*rch has been split between the official “Three Self Patriotic” [ie government-sanctioned] Ch*rch (3S) and the “underground” house ch*rches (HCs) which refused to register under the early days of Communism and from which the famous and exciting stories of the Chinese ch*rch (Brother Yun etc) have emerged.

Whereas in the old days the lines were quite distinct, and in some cases the 3S was involved in persecution of the HCs, this dichotomy is largely becoming out of date. Simply there are good HCs and probably some bad HCs and good 3Ss and probably some bad 3Ss. In my limited experience, the 3Ss tend to be more conservative and the HCs more charismatic, but they are both in the most part evang*lical (unlike a lot of the “mainstream” ch*rches in Europe for example). However there is an emerging generation of educated students and professionals which in a lot of cases find it hard to relate to the 3S, which they may find too formal (for example, many of the hymns they use are translated versions of Western hymns from before the Communist takeover), or the HCs which have mainly thrived in the countryside among the uneducated. So they gather together in informal groups, some big, some small and are often more based on Western style  charismatic small group / ch*rch models. They are not part of a wider network in the sense of the traditional HCs, nor for the most part are they registered with the government, but they are kind of independent.

So it’s exciting seeing a new generation of young people seeking to express their faith in the context of the emerging Chinese affluent and urban scene. But they also need direction and leadership (for example any paid full time worker would be entirely supported by congregations and other than in the official 3S no position would be a recognized job) and a vision that they may reach this new generation for Him, plus wisdom and the ability to relate positively to the rest of the body. With a country that is now nearing half the population in urban centers, I think this new movement is one of the keys to the future. Amongst these young people in China, in my experience evang*lism is relatively easy, discipl*ship is harder. Often people are willing to study, even make some sort of commitment etc but following this up with a life of discipl*ship seems to be a challenge in the light of the pressures of modern life in China. So pr*y for this movement to really take off and be a powerful witn*ss to the emerging generations of Chinese.

Secondly for China in general, pray for the men. The churches (3S and HC) are dominated by mainly older ladies and I’ve found more often than not it’s the women taking leadership positions, since the men in China seem to be often more interested in making money or getting on in the world.  Pray that men would rise up and take on their leadership positions.

Thirdly, in my area in West China, there are a number of minority groups which are pretty unreached:

Amdo Tib*tans, although there is quite a lot of focus on them and there are the beginnings of a CP movement among them.

Mongolians and related Buddhist groups such as Tu, and Yugur (not Uighur, that’s a much larger group in Xinjiang). Not sure of the details on these groups in this area; there has been activity in some of the areas where these groups are based but there still needs to be established  strong ch*rchs among them

Hui Musl*ms, there are a number of b*lievers among them, but so far there is not a strong distinctly Hui movement among them, b*lievers would often just join a Han majority Chinese group and become more like the Han Chinese.

Other smaller Musl*m groups such as the Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan, a few b*lievers among some of these groups, but not yet a strong indigenous movement.

The challenge for many of these groups (with the possible exception of Amdo Tib*tans, although that movement’s in it early stages) is rather than ones or twos coming out of the groups and just joining the  Han ch*rches, for there to be distinct (although of course not exclusive) indigenous movements amongst the groups.

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