Northeast China: Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning provinces. Over 120 million people. Around 8% of them are Christian. This region (near North Korea and Russia) was the homeland of the Manchu people (Manchuria), who conquered and ruled all of China from 1644-1911. Heilongjiang Province has good farm land. Jilin Province borders North Korea. Liaoning Province attracts economic migrants for industry, agriculture, and the busy port (Dalian). The Church here grew rapidly, with both locals and foreigners (Korean) active in ministry and church planting. Pray for this region where the drama and danger of North Korean escapees unfolds, that God would draw many North Koreans, ethnically Korean Chinese, and Manchu and Han Chinese to Himself.
- There is significant freedom to practice the Christian faith and great creativity and vision on the part of churches to share the good news and build the Church. Praise God that churches in Heilongjiang are known throughout China for their dynamism and growth.
- The Church is relatively strong with many registered and unregistered congregations. Jilin is home to two-thirds of China's ethnic Koreans. Koreans are a large minority of Jilin's Christians. Nearly a third of the 2.4 million Koreans in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces are Christian. Praise God for this.
- The Chinese Korean Church has a special and strategic role to play for North Korea. Hundreds of thousands have fled that repressed land in the past decade, the vast majority crossing over into NE China. Christians play a dangerous role in sheltering and hiding these refugees who are hunted by both North Korean security forces and Chinese police; the punishment for sheltering or aiding such escapees is severe and exceeded only by the penalty meted out to the North Koreans if they are caught. China's Korean believers will also play a massive part in whatever national rebuilding occurs should North Korea's regime crumble.
- The recent rise of pseudo-Christian cults in Jilin is a concern. Groups such as the Eastern Lightning specifically target house churches to steal away believers. Even pastors and church leaders have been led astray by these groups.
- The Church has grown remarkably, with house churches more than doubling in the last 10 years, building on a pre-revolution foundation of Presbyterian mission activity. A high proportion, perhaps 20%, of Christians in the province are Korean. Both locals and foreigners, especially Koreans, are active in ministry and church planting. Pray for greater levels of discipleship and continued evangelistic fervour for believers.
- Liaoning's border with North Korea makes it a highly significant place spiritually. North Korean refugees attempt to escape from that tragic land; around 30,000 each year make it into China. Both North Korea and China are cracking down hard on escapees and any who assist or shelter them. North Koreans who become Christians through the ministry of believers in China are treated especially brutally - either labour camps or execution. Most who make it across are women; many of these sadly end up trafficked by unscrupulous opportunists into an equally nightmarish existence as domestic or sexual slaves. Pray that those who escape from North Korea might find freedom, safety and the light of the gospel in China.
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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.