April 9 - Pray for: People’s Republic of China

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Pray for the Chinese Church:

  • The Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council (TSPM/CCC) together form the only state-recognized Protestant Church. It can legally print and distribute Bibles, and can register and build church buildings. But the government limits its teaching, outreach, and discipleship activity. Since its restoration in 1978, it continues to grow. In the past, the atheist regime imposed some doctrines and practices on the TSPM/CCC that hindered its impact on society. Pray for revival and renewal, and future growth.
  • The traditional house-church networks formed the core of the Chinese Church for many decades. Preachers travelled far and wide across China. The intense persecution isolated them from the global Church, and forced them to adopt indigenous ways. They focus strongly on prayer, revival, simple living, and on Christ! Most house-church Christians love their country, but their first loyalty is to God. They do not want to register with the government. Their illegal status leads to persecution. The mass migration to the cities will force these networks and churches to adapt. Some rural congregations get left without a leader, and some migrants struggle without a church group in the city. Pray that the strong commitment to God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the boldness to spread the gospel will all continue to shape this growing, changing movement.
  • Other smaller, less-organized house-church networks still make up a significant part of the Chinese Church. Many formed through radio broadcasts and related ministries, often among minority groups. More recently, new networks form within the workplace, such as within factories or offices owned or managed by Christians.
  • The urban professional Church is an important recent development. Many professionals and academics turned to God for the first time, open while students or professors living abroad. They returned to China eager to engage urban society with their new faith! These well-educated believers can influence government, business, media, the legal system, academia, and civil society. They can relate differently to the government than the TSPM/CCC or house-church networks can. Many have strong commitment to social welfare.
  • The Catholic Church was divided when the Chinese government set up the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) that was independent of the Vatican (1957). The majority of Catholics went “underground”, and stayed loyal to the Pope. They suffered severe persecution. These groups fought with each other, and the Pope now encourages them toward reconciliation. Many Catholics are passionate, charismatic believers.

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Foreign Christians are not welcome in China as missionaries. Yet, the ideological oppression of the Cultural Revolution is all but gone, and China's global interests, exchanges and relations make it possible for many Christians - both foreign-born Chinese and other expatriates - to contribute to Chinese society. There are perhaps two million foreigners now living in China from North America, Europe and other parts of Asia, with South Korea and Hong Kong sending many to mainland China. Recent years have seen increases in students from Africa as well.

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The Chinese military is considered the largest in the world, including the armed forces (PLA) and the armed police (PAP). Combined, there are over four million in uniform, but very few Christians among them.

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Challenges facing Christians:

  • Problems within marriages and families. The generation of house church leaders absent from their families (either in and out of prison or gone for extended periods of itinerant ministry) yields, as a by-product, a number of their children leaving the ministry or even leaving the faith. In urban settings, the twin pressures of gainful employment and pastoring leave marriages and family relationships strained and in many cases broken. The increasing acceptance of extra-marital sexual relationships as a cultural norm further complicates matters. Pray that leaders find ways to model family relationships that honour God. Pray that wise counsel might be provided for struggling families and individuals, and pray that Chinese Christians might demonstrate the power of the gospel through transformed relationships with spouses, children and parents.
  • Financial temptations. Economic progress creates a new set of pressures on Christians, ranging from the desire for personal or church wealth to decisions regarding the stewardship of that wealth. Growing materialism coupled with excessive corruption are cultural norms. Pray for Christians to seek guidance from Scripture as they develop principles and guidelines for living in the world while still faithful to God.
  • Persecution remains a present reality. This is a measure of the government's fears of such a large movement they do not control and of the majority of the Church operating outside the government-sanctioned church bodies. Since 1996, persecution has increased against house churches unwilling to register with the TSPM/Cru. Arrests, heavy fines, forced closures and destruction of church buildings are increasing in some key areas; the state says this is because house churches are illegal and a potential political threat, not because they are Christian. But this does nothing to lessen the suffering endured by its victims.
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Increased contact and communication with evangelical Christians around the world prove an enormous blessing at times and a formidable obstacle at others. Current partnership models range from sensationally misleading to humbly low key, from respectful to confrontational and from mutually honouring to exploitative. Finance and resource provisions are major components for good and for ill. Pray for wisdom, sensitivity and love to govern official partnerships and informal working relationships, and specifically for productive interaction with the urban Church.


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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.