Factory Buddies

We hardly even notice them anymore, and when we do, we probably either roll our eyes or chuckle. I’m referring to the ubiquitous “Made in China” labels that adorn our consumer goods. Televisions, underwear, souvenirs, computers—you name it, it’s probably made in China!

What we rarely think about, though, is that behind that “Made in China” label are real people, with real lives, and real hopes and dreams. In almost all cases, they are young people who have moved from the countryside to work in a factory in a city. Having left behind loved ones, their fellow workers become their new family.

I recently ran across a short film that takes an interesting, and somewhat soulful look at the lives of some of these people—a group of young men in a factory in East China. The title of the film is “Xiong Di” (兄弟), which can be translated as “brother,” “buddy,” “fella,” or (as our British and Australian friends might say), “mate.”

You can watch the entire film here.

兄弟 / xiong di from Häns on Vimeo.

Is the church in China reaching out to these workers? In many places, yes. In 2013, we translated for our Chinese Church Voices publication an interview with a pastor who leads a church of factory workers in Dongguan, Guangzhou province. Sharing his vision, he says:

Because the cities where we live are "young cities" which place great emphasis on manufacturing, the migrant population accounts for around 90% of the total population and consists of laborers from every province in China. Population turnover is significant. Nearly every year close to half of the workforce leaves or talks about leaving. Our goal is to share the gospel with the migrant population and to establish a church near the factory or within the community.

And in 2006, Ronald Yu described his efforts in planting “shop churches,”—the “positioning, both physically and socially, of a church planter in the industrial neighborhood in order to evangelize and nurture a church there.”

This film is a good reminder to pray for the churches in these factory towns.

Image credit: by C. Foulger, via Flickr.