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Praying for China’s Cities

China’s Vastness

I’ve always been a girl who could get lost inside a paper bag. I’ve muddled directions in my neighborhood, while hiking, driving all manner of places, and have confidently walked into the wrong building untold numbers of time. (Most recently, this morning!) So, about 20 years ago when I first moved to China—new country, new geography, a new (and very, very large) city, with a new-to-me language and writing system—it seemed inevitable that I would struggle to get around. And I did.

But God blessed me, and I ended up with a roommate who seemed to never, ever be confused about where she was or where she was going. She had a head for navigation, and even majored in geography in college! Together, the two of us managed to get around our new city. My geography-major roommate bought a map of China, and we tacked it to our stark white apartment wall. As we made Chinese friends, they would stand at the map and show us where their hometown was located: a 30-minute walk; a five-hour bus ride; a 42-hour train ride away. The number of massive cities was astounding, and though I tried to learn the major areas, I could not keep some of the provinces straight. (For instance: Shaanxi and Shanxi—the two provinces have the same pinyin spelling, but the first syllable in Shaanxi is pronounced with the third tone, while it is said with the first tone in Shanxi.)

Slowly, I began to understand that China did not just look like a really large country on the map: it truly was an enormous place! And people from different places talked differently, ate different foods, even did different things for fun! They were all Chinese, and shared a national identity and many common experiences, but in many ways they had totally different lifestyles. I suppose people from outside of America might assume that New York and New Mexico have a lot in common. And that is true, because both of those states are part of the US. But it’s also true that the geography, the history, the climate, and the lifestyles of people in those places are vastly different.

By meeting friends from all over China, I became curious about their home lives and cultures. I realized that China was not a monolith: not only did it have many more people than America, but just like in the US, the people differed from one another a great deal. I also began to develop a special love for the city in China where I was living. My city was not at all like what I heard about some other metro centers, but it became very dear to me.

Why We Are Praying for China’s Cities

Now, I live in the States again, and work for China Partnership. One of the most important ways we are encouraging people to partner with China is by praying with and for China. This year, we are systematically praying for cities across China. We have done this before; in fact, in 2017, we began our prayer ministry by praying for China’s cities. But the political, economic, and social landscape has changed since then. This year, we are revisiting some of China’s cities, introducing you to them, and asking you to join with us in praying for God to move and work in these cities.

We believe that, to reach China, it is very important to reach the cities, for they draw people from every geographic part of China, and from every economic level. China’s cities are growing rapidly; many current analyses estimate that about 66 percent of Chinese now live in urban areas.

Another reason we are intentionally praying for cities in 2024 is because the Chinese house church is also intentionally praying for cities this year. In a recent interview, a leader in the movement said,

The Covid-Zero policies of the last three years really cut off churches from each other, and now that the regulations have been dropped many are pushing for inter-regional partnership. They want to help churches in other cities, as well as ask churches in other cities for help. They recognize that they need churches in other cities to be praying for them, and also want to commit to praying for churches in other cities.

We want to follow the lead of Chinese Christians. If they are praying for one another in a specific way, we want to lift them up in the same manner. If they feel a need to better know and understand one another, then we also share that same need.

We believe this is a pivotal time for the Chinese house church. For as long as I have been involved with China, I have heard leaders exhort: the window is open now, we must move while the Lord allows. That window of openness is not propped open quite as wide these days, at least not to foreigners. But in the disillusionment following covid, many Chinese are reporting that their friends and family are open to finding some deeper meaning in life. They want more than just an apartment and a car. Many are disappointed; many are emigrating and giving up altogether. But in that disappointment, there is an opportunity to find the God who “satisfies the longing soul (Psalm 107:9). We do not know exactly what God is doing, and we do not know how he will weave his good work. But prayer is actively participating in God’s work, and right now, we can and should be aggressively praying for and with China.

Pray With Us

If your heart is moved to battle with us in prayer, we at China Partnership invite you to join our team this year as we pray for cities across China. There are two ways to pray with us:

This is a crucial time. God is at work, and he graciously invites us to join his labor.

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Image credit: Alexandre Vildivia and Chris Liverani via UnSplash.

E. F. Gregory

E. F. Gregory is the blog editor for China Partnership, which serves, trains, and resources the Chinese house church.View Full Bio

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