Earlier this month I got to spend two weeks back in Beijing, my former “home town.” My primary reason for the trip was to spend time with a friend undergoing cancer treatment, but I was also able to get out and about to connect with local friends as well. Here are six random observations noted during my time there:
- I talked with academics, house church leaders, Three-Self leaders, and ordinary Christians about their understanding of the church and cross demolition campaign in Wenzhou. None of them believes that it is part of a nationwide crackdown on Christianity; rather, it is a local campaign borne out of the unique political and religious conditions in that province.
- There seem to be two general responses among Christians. One is that the campaign is an unjust one, and therefore Christians must stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Wenzhou and resist this persecution. Another is that God will use this incident as a means of “winnowing” to redirect the Wenzhou churches back to the gospel.
- Social media has exploded in China, thanks to the popularity of We Chat. It’s hard to imagine staying connected with Chinese friends without using this. Christians are using it as well, in ever-increasingly creative ways. (Stay tuned for a blog post about that!)
- Pollution has become a big deal. I don’t mean that the pollution is necessarily worse than it has been in the past; it’s just that people today are aware that the murky air is smog (the government used to tell them it was just fog), and they are increasingly unhappy about it. It is increasingly a reason given for wanting to emigrate.
- Things seem to be getting tighter in the area of regulations for foreigners working in China. Special arrangements for visas that have been the norm for years are being discontinued. It is not always the case that there are new regulations; rather regulations that have long been ignored are now being enforced. Many foreign enterprises (especially the NGO variety) are having to re-think how they operate.
- Christians are continuing to push the boundaries, whether by doing evangelism via WeChat or live-streaming church services.
The truth of my favorite Chinese saying remains: “Plans can’t keep up with changes.”
Image Credit: Joann Pittman