The guest editors' point of view . . .
A look at the affects of affluence on American society with a view to better understanding what is happening in China today.
China’s elderly population is burgeoning and the question becomes, “Who will care for them?” Families are finding this difficult, and neither the government nor society are currently prepared to provide the resources needed to address this. However, China’s Christian community has several advantages that would allow them to meet this need. Urban Christians could care for the elderly in their midst and also offer a service to the larger community which would enhance the church’s standing in society.
Over the course of 2016, as I have had the opportunity to participate in various gatherings of Chinese Christians, I have heard two conversations going on simultaneously.
Eunice Moe Brock was born in 1917 in Hebei Province; her parents were American missionaries. She later spent her early years in Liaocheng, Shandong Province. She left in the 1930s but returned to Liaocheng in the 1990s to the land that she loved. She lived in Liaocheng until she died in 2013. Shortly before she passed away, CCTV aired a story about her on the nightly news broadcast.
The public WeChat account called Window of Christ’s Grace (基督恩典之窗) recently posted about a story about the broadcast and how inspiring it was to see a story about a Christian on national television. The writer reflects on the importance of Christians living lives that bring honor to God.
In modern societies pluralism has the dual effect of both relativizing faith, forcing religious believers to acknowledge the presence of competing worldviews, and of fostering growth by creating new opportunities for them to live out their faith in the pluralist context.
“She doesn't know me anymore,” my friend Xiao Min remarked offhandedly one day, as though this fact didn't bother her. As the weeks went on, I would slowly discover that this statement reflected a very deep pain in Xiao Min's heart. The first time she brought it up, though, I was surprised she would treat the matter so coolly. After all, she was talking about her own daughter.
The following is a translation of an excerpt of a sermon preached by Wang Yi, pastor of Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu. In this sermon, he proposes the Ten Commandments as a model to pray for China. For each commandment he highlights some relevant statistics about Chinese society. The sermon, titled “How to Pray for China” was originally posted on Pastor Wang Yi’s WeChat public account.
According to news reports, more than 200 people have died in flooding and landslides across China this summer, mostly along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. The Gospel Times recently reported on how the flooding has impacted Christians in communities in Hubei Province. This is a translated excerpt of that article.
On May 21 ChinaSource President Brent Fulton spoke at Emmanuel English Church in Hong Kong. Drawing from his book China’s Urban Christians: A Light that Cannot Be Hidden, Fulton talked about how the kingdom of God has spread in China, despite difficult circumstances.
In the part one of this article Si Wei shared her journey from darkness to a personal relationship with Christ. Here she goes on to tell about the next stage of her journey—sanctification. Not surprisingly, God chose to use the furnace of marriage to expose Si Wei’s unhealthy mindset and areas of idolatry, which she shares with us in this conclusion to her story.
The story of a young woman who in the midst of artistic success realizes the emptiness of her life. This is part one of a two-part story which will continue next week.
A ChinaSource 3 Questions interview with Dr. Brent Fulton, author of China's Urban Christians: A Light That Cannot Be Hidden and president of ChinaSource.
Has China reached the Lewis Turning Point? What does that mean for migrant workers in China?
I was riding on the subway in Wuhan one afternoon, standing in the middle of a very crowded car. A frail senior gentleman was sitting in a seat near me. When we came to the next stop, a senior woman, who was standing by the door, started shouting at him to hurry and get off the train. He stood up and those of us around him helped him get to the doorway as quickly as possible, but by the time he got there, the door started to close. The woman was already on the platform, but he was still standing in the car. When the doors closed, the glass platform door closed on his arm, and the car door closed on his head.
Christmas remains as popular as ever in China, and Christians continue to use that popularity as a means to share the gospel. In the article below, originally published in and translated by Christian Times, we learn about how churches and individual Christians are using social media to spread the word about the true meaning of Christmas.
Looking at the challenges of the growing population of the elderly in China and the opportunities for churches to meet the needs.
Last week we posted part one of an interview with a young urban church pastor that was originally published in the Christian Times. In this post, part two, he talks about the challenges of church administration and the lack of theological resources.
The Christian Times recently published an interview with a young urban pastor in which he discusses some of the challenges of urban ministry in China. In this first part of the interview, he focuses on the need for Chinese churches to be more socially engaged, and for more theological reflection.
The big news out of China last week was, of course, the Party’s decision to alter its longstanding family planning policy.
The online publication Territory recently published a piece titled “In a Pluralistic Society, How are we to deal with those who hate the church?” Writing to an audience of Chinese Christians, the author presents the current religious landscape in the United States, particularly as it relates to issues such as so-called same-sex marriage and religious liberty. It’s a good reminder to Chinese believers that, even in a land known for religious liberty, there are (growing) tension points between the church and society, and that Christians need to be prayerful and wise in managing these tensions and divisions so as not to further alienate people from the church and the gospel.
As more Chinese businessmen and businesswomen turn to Christ, they are increasingly looking for ways to be salt and light in their communities. In one community in Shandong Province, local Christian businesspeople have formed a fellowship to more effectively serve local churches and society.
Sometimes in the wave of negative reports coming out of China the stories of local believers living out the gospel in daily life get buried. This Gospel Times article shares the work of three churches who are actively seeking to serve a portion of society that continues to deal with intense rejection in this day and age—victims of leprosy.
In July, People’s University released the results of a multi-year survey of the religious environment in China. Many news outlets, both inside China and outside, covered the story, choosing to emphasize the growing popularity of religion among young people in China as well as the growth of Islam. But the survey was much broader and revealed other interesting data points about religion in China. The mainland site Christian Times took a close look at the survey and highlighted some of the other findings that did not get much play, particularly in the western press.
An introverted and irritable man from Beijing, Cao Xiao Jing experienced an incredible transformation that led him to remote areas of Yunnan Province where he served the marginalized of society, including drug addicts and minorities. The story of Cao’s conversion and call to ministry is told in the online journal Jingjie. Out of his experiences with a relapsed addict and a formerly wealthy street dweller, Cao shares about a significant shift that took place in his own theology, which led to a new way of approaching ministry.
How the church in China is seeking to strengthen marriages in the face of an increasing divorce rate.
This past month has seen a flurry of articles written about the religious sentiments of Chinese youth, all triggered by the release of a survey conducted by the National Survey Research Center of the School of Philosophy at People’s University in Beijing. Many of the stories picked up the angle that Islam was the most popular religion, while others highlighted the growing popularity of religion in general among Chinese young people.
These stories actually prompt deeper questions about what life is like for youth in China today. What are Chinese youth like? What are the issues they wrestle with? How are they coping with the pressures of life? Are they really interested in spiritual matters?
Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang’s new book, A Star in the East, combines data from a major study on religion in China conducted during the past decade together with keen sociological insights in order to explain the factors behind China’s phenomenal church growth.
On June 1, a cruise ship on the Yangtze River sank during a violent storm, killing more than 400 passengers. Because the ship sank so fast, there were only eight survivors, including the captain. The government launched a massive rescue and salvage operation, eventually righting the ship and recovering the bodies of those who had died. As is the case in any country now, Chinese citizens went online to express their grief. Christians joined the conversation as well, using the incident to reflect on the meaning of life and death and the urgency of spreading the gospel. In this article, translated from Christian Times, the author offers three things for Christians to consider.
A church finds a way to minister to families facing the stress of the gaokao, the Chinese national university entrance examination.
On June 4, 2015, ChinaSource President Brent Fulton was a guest on the Connecting Faith program of My Faith Radio in the Twin Cities. Host Neil Stavem spent the hour talking with Brent about modern China and some of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the country and the church in China 26 years after the crackdown in Tiananmen Square.
The destruction of churches and widespread pulling down of crosses in Zhejiang province during the past year have served to highlight the dilemma facing China’s Christians, whose numerical growth has, for the past several decades, outstripped the availability of suitable venues for worship.
As urbanization has redrawn the landscape of China, its effects have been far reaching, altering not only the physical geography but also the social fabric in multiple dimensions.
As China’s elderly population mushrooms and its working-age population shrinks, Christian families find themselves caught in the middle of this demographic divide. Cultural expectations and legal requirements put the onus on them to care for older family members, but neither the government nor the society at large are adequately prepared to support this effort.
In the past two weeks, we have posted part one and two of an article titled “What are our Young People Thinking: How to Witness to Youth of the Post 1980’s, 1990’s and 1995’s,”, originally published in The Church Magazine. Part one looked specifically at the unique characteristics of the post-80s generation of Chinese youth. Part two looked specifically at the unique characteristics of the post-90s generation of Chinese youth.
Part three looks at the post-95s generation.
In last week's post we published part one of an article titled titled “What are our Young People Thinking: How to Witness to Youth of the Post 1980s, 1990s and 1995s,” originally published in The Church Magazine. That post looked specifically at the unique characteristics of the post-80s generation of Chinese youth.
Part two looks at the post-90s generation.
In the November 2014 issue of The Church Magazine, they posted a long article titled “What are our Young People Thinking: How to Witness to Youth of the Post 1980s, 1990s and 1995s,” written by Lu Zun’en. In it he describes the unique characteristics of each of these groups (generations) of young people, and suggests effective means of evangelistic engagement.
For first-generation urban Christians in China, social expectations regarding marriage present difficult dilemmas as they seek to remain faithful to biblical teaching regarding the family.
One of the ways that people in China have of dealing with injustice is the administrative system known as petitioning.
In recent months I have been delighted by the exposure Chinese Church Voices has provided to indigenous perspectives on faith and mission. The simple blog provides an important window for non-Chinese speakers into questions Chinese Christians are raising. In turn, it provides those of us in the West with an opportunity for greater dialogue and understanding.
Have you been keeping up with our publication Chinese Church Voices? If not, here are the five most popular posts of 2014 that you may have missed.
In addition to church leaders and ordinary Christians using online forums to discuss matters of faith, academics are joining the conversation as well. On his blog, Professor Liu Peng recently wrote about the relationship between poverty and “spiritual backwardness,” which refers to a spiritual void, or lack of spiritual beliefs. Writing from the perspective of sociology, Professor Peng argues that the most serious type of poverty in China is the “poverty of faith,” and unless that is addressed the problem of material poverty cannot be solved.
By at least some calculations, the size of China’s economy exceeded that of the United States this month, putting China in first place. Setting aside the fine points of those calculations (which will likely be the subject of much debate for some time to come), it is clear that China’s economic rise has had far-reaching consequences –including for the Body of Christ – both domestically and internationally,.
Given the relatively opaque nature of China's church, international organizations have often found it difficult to know where to connect. Chinese representation at several high-profile international conferences in recent years has, in some ways, been a welcome breakthrough. These events have ostensibly helped to bring together a wide spectrum of leaders from within China with those from abroad who are seeking to partner with them.
The popularity of Christmas in China (primarily as a commercial activity) has given Christians increased opportunities to share the gospel. In the short article translated below, a preacher in Beijing encourages his parishioners to be intentional about inviting family, friends and colleagues to church during the Christmas season.
On November 1, 2014, The Economist published an excellent article about the church in China, titled "Cracks in the Atheist Edifice." Written by veteran correspondent Rob Gifford (author of China Road), the article gives an overview of how the church (and individual Christians) in China are stepping out of the shadows, and the various ways in which the government is being forced to deal with this growing and more visible church.
In past decades, China's church had much less of a public presence. The gospel message was conveyed primarily through clandestine small group meetings or personal relationships.
This week's top picks...
Drought, art, and wedding photos - our top picks for this week.