North Central China: Hebei, Shaanxi, Shanxi, 2 Municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin). Over 176 million people live in North Central China, with about 8% of them Christian. China is ruled from Beijing. The Communist Party's grip over this vast population - and the information they are exposed to - appears to be getting tighter and tighter. Pray for the nation’s leaders to seek the good of the people. The wealth and influence of Beijing attracts millions of rural migrants, as well as people from business and academic communities throughout China and the world.
- China is ruled from Beijing. Pray for the nation's leaders to seek the good of the people and eschew self-interest, to have a sense for humanity amid the large-scale issues and to have the courage and wisdom to make the right, essential economic and political decisions that will impact billions.
- Hebei continues in its reputation for being one of the most rigidly policed provinces in China. Christians have suffered unrelenting and harsh persecution over the past three decades as a result, yet their growth to such a size (nearly six million) brings them increasing resilience and even influence with local government officials. Pray for both grace and greater freedom for the Christians in this strategic province.
- Hebei is the heart of Catholicism in China with a large proportion of Catholics. Many remain loyal to the Vatican. They have suffered severely, since they do not submit to state control, but they also continue to grow. Pray for a healthy and helpful relationship between the state-church mechanisms (CPA, TSPM) and their unregistered counterparts.
- Shaanxi is the birthplace of Christianity in China. The Nestorians built their first church in Xi'an in 635, but terrible persecution wiped out this witness. Pray that the 21st Century may be one of triumph for the Church.
- The Church has grown rapidly and dramatically, especially in the last 20 years - from 30,000 Christians in 1949 to an estimated 3.6 million in 2010. Lack of biblical teaching and trained leaders makes the Church vulnerable to heresy; the Disciples is a cult started in Shaanxi. Pray for spiritual growth, health and unity for Shaanxi Christians.
- Shanxi is China's industrial heart, still pumping but weakened and diseased. Heavy industry and many factories have wrought a harsh toll on the now-polluted landscape. Widespread problems — health and disease, harsh working conditions for factory employees and especially miners, the arid climate, geographic isolation and relative poverty — combine to spread a sense of hopelessness and desperation. Pray for hope, expressed ultimately in the new and eternal life found in Jesus.
- The government maintains strict control over the TSPM Church here, and house churches are persecuted in waves. This heritage of persecution is longstanding; during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, thousands of Chinese (and 200 expatriates) were martyred for their faith. The religious freedom that does exist actually causes great anxiety, since new crackdowns can come at any time and without warning.
- Tianjin, as a major international port, should be a vibrant and dynamic city with a strong economy, but quirks of history, poor city planning, an economic slowdown and the decrease of export shipping have stunted its development. Despite this, there are a wide range of Chinese ethnicities and foreign nationalities present along with the vision and potential to be a world-class port city with a thriving economy. Pray that such growth and openness to the region as a seaport would also bring the strong presence of the good news.
- The Church is almost as tightly controlled in Tianjin as in nearby Beijing, but church growth has been more limited. Catholics have fared better. Church leaders tend to be quite aged, and an injection of younger leadership is needed. Pray for an easing of the harsh restrictions, for more church growth and for a new generation of committed, trained leaders.
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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.