China is facing some unique demographic challenges, not the least of which is an aging population. Currently, roughly 8% of the population is 65 or older. However, according to a report by the BBC, that number is expected to be 12% by 2020, and 26% by 2050.
In addition to the economic challenges that such a demographic shift will bring, the challenges to individuals and families are even greater. Because of the one-child policy that has been in place for the past 30 years, the traditional responsibility that Chinese children have to care for their elderly parents (filial piety) is becoming increasingly weighty.
In the translated article below, originally posted on the mainland site Gospel Times, the writer shares a few stories of how this is impacting preachers, especially those in more rural and impoverished areas.Another piece of background information: the word chuandaoren can be translated as preacher or evangelist. Normally it is used for a person who serves in a church (Three-Self or house church) as a preacher, but who is not ordained.
The Concerns of Preachers How to Care for Elderly Parents
"I have never dared to speak about filial piety," said a preacher who was forced by the pressures of life to give up his church service work. This concern of how to care for elderly and invalid parents is a common one among many ordinary pastors and preachers.
This preacher, who lives in Hunan and does not venture to preach about filial piety, did not receive a salary from the church while he was serving there. He could have had a job with a substantial income, but because he felt God's call, he resigned his job, studied theology, and began to serve.The preacher's parents are over 70 years of age. His mother is very sick and regularly needs medication; his father is an elderly preacher. His father is still doing pastoral work and his parents live at the church. Because no one has taken care of his parents' house for many years it is now unlivable.
Though the preacher has remained filial to his parents, because he did not have a salary he did not venture to make a commitment to take care of his parents and did not dare to preach a message in church about filial piety. Later, under a variety of pressures in life, he left his ministry in the church.
The preacher's life is still difficult, but he has ventured to tell his parents that he will take care of them and has told his parents to let him know whenever they need something.A preacher in Jilin recently began to worry about this same issue of caring for one's parents. This preacher himself has opened a church. Because of the testimonies of the brothers and sisters he has been pastoring, recently, after some discussion his congregation gave him a raise. However, even after the raise his salary is not enough to pay the expenses of the family.
This preacher pastors in an urban area, but his parents still live in a rural area. His father has not been able to take care of himself for many years, and has been cared for by his wife. Unfortunately, she has recently fallen ill. The preacher took his mother to the hospital for an examination and treatment, but even after spending a thousand yuan, her illness was not cured. At the time the preacher began the church, the situation was even worse. When the preacher just started the church, the economy was even worse. He did not ask his parents for money, but came to serve the church in faith. Each time he went home, his mother knew he was distressed and every time she would surreptitiously slip him some money (worried that he didn't want it). When the preacher returned to the city, the mother would tell him where she had slipped the money.
He is unable to help his parents out financially because he is a preacher. Today, because of watching his parents age, the issue of caring for elderly parents has hit home to him.In Hebei, a church planter also worries about caring for his parents. His mother's waist, neck, and legs are diseased, and she also suffers from dizziness. In addition, his wifes mother also needs constant care.This pastor's mother is very happy that her child is being used by God and she does not want to be a burden to her sons ministry. One time, she attended a worship service led by an evangelist with the gift of healing. She prayerfully asked God to heal her. As a result she, who used to only walk by leaning against a wall, can now walk freely.In order to allow their son to be able to minister with ease, the preacher's parents continue to farm to the best of their ability and take care of themselves. (Note: Since the church is still a young church plant, it cannot give him a salary. His wife is working)
Some members of the churches where these preachers serve believe that preachers should not receive paychecks and therefore the churches do not give them salaries. Some churches are so small they are unable to pay a salary. Only a few churches offer a salary.
Original Article: (translated and posted by permission from Gospel Times)
Photo Credit: Joann Pittman
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