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.
How to Pray for China
Every year from May 12 to June 4 is our church's "month of prayer for the nation." This year I used the 10 Commandments as a model for how to pray for China, for "the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good" (Rom 7:12).
May the law of love call us to lament for the sins of our nation, and continually call our nation to rely on the precious blood of Christ.
You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3 ESV)
For Chinese people over the age of 16, 85% hold some kind of belief in the supernatural or engage in some kind of religious activity. Although 58% of people claim to be atheist, 44% of them in last 12 months have engaged in some form of religious practice. Indeed 120 million people believe in the existence of gods, Buddha, or ghosts.
There are a million people who believe in two or more institutional religions; 141 million people believe in the god of wealth; 145 million people believe in feng shui. Within the past 12 months, 362 million people consulted with fortunetellers.
Approximately 754 million people in the past year have visited a grave, among them 206 million people believe in the existence of ancestral spirits. Also, 123 million people give offerings in their homes to an ancestral tablet. In the past year, 29 million people prayed to ancestral spirits. (Source: Beijing Horizon Research Company 's 2007 "The State of Chinese People's Spiritual Lives" National Sample Survey)
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6 ESV)
The overall state of Chinese contemporary religious belief can be summed up in the phrase, "religion is not evident, but witchcraft is prevalent." As China develops, folk beliefs (or witchcraft) continue to boom. The key reason for this is that people's demand for supernatural spirits and mysterious forces has been awakened by process marketization. According to Yang Fenggang, in his book Religious Revivals and Religious Shortage in Contemporary China, “If the institutional religious system cannot meet their needs, people will go to the ‘gray market’ and the ‘black market’ to search for satisfaction.”
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7 ESV)
Among Chinese over the age of 16, there are 187 million self-professed believers in Buddhism. Self-professing Christians number around 33.5 million, of which 30 million are Protestants and 3.5 million are Catholics. Another 43 million people acknowledge that they believe Jesus Christ exists, or that in the past year they have participated in Christian rituals. "People will make different interpretations whether these people can be considered Christians."—Yang Fenggang Religious Revivals and Religious Shortage in Contemporary China
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-10 ESV)
In 2012, Autumn Rain Church had 255 members receive the Lord's Supper and about 40 visiting believers receive the Lord's Supper for a total of 295 people. The proportion of people who receive the Lord's Supper on the Lord's Day is about 70%. About one-third of the members were absent from the Lord's Supper. The total number of communicant members and baptized children (35) in our church is about 325. On the average Lord's Day attendance, not including the twenty percent of those outside of our church body who are gospel believers and visitors passing through, about 15% of the believers in our church do not observe the Lord's Day.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20: 12 ESV)
The first working day after the Chinese New Year in 2012 the Beijing Fengtai District Court heard seven cases involving family disputes. In the past three years, family disputes have made up about approximately 30% of all civil and commercial cases, of which more than 80% are divorce cases. Such problems as elderly couples divorcing, child custody disputes, false debt, domestic violence, and conflicts over inheritance have become flash points for family disputes. In Ningxia, for example, cases where a family dispute led to a criminal case make up 8.82% of first offense criminal cases. —Web Search
You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13 ESV)
Every year approximately 20 million babies are born in China. Every year over 13 million fetuses are aborted. Among Chinese women 20 to 29 years-old, 62% have had an abortion. Yet, in the Netherlands, where sexual freedom spreads unchecked the most in the West, this number stands at 5.1%.—China Daily
You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14 ESV)
China has approximately 36 million homosexuals, making up about 2-3% of the population. In Chengdu there are approximately 100,000 homosexuals, making it known as China's "gay heaven."—China Ministry of Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention"
In 2014, 3.6 million Chinese couples divorced, over twice the number from ten years previous and more. Currently, China's divorce rate is much higher than most European countries and is approaching the same level as the United States, the country in which divorce is the most common in the world. Moreover, China is now one of the easiest and cheapest places in the world to divorce one's spouse.—The Economist
You shall not steal. (Exodus 20: 15 ESV)
Nationwide, in 2011, there were 27,000 cases of corruption, bribery, and other similar offenses; 29,000 criminals were sentenced. There were 593,000 cases of financial disputes, 526,000 cases of business contract disputes, and 22,000 cases involving foreign-related commercial and maritime businesses. There were 66,000 cases of first-time intellectual property rights tried, an increase of 37.7% compared to the year before.—2012 Supreme People's Court Report
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20: 16 ESV)
Nationwide in 2011, thousands were prosecuted for crimes of abusing position, exploitation of law enforcement authority, judicial authority, and taking bribes. Those prosecuted included 7366 law enforcement personnel and 2395 judicial staff members.
There were 7355 prosecutions against 10,585 people for dereliction of duty; 2012 suspects were arrested for the production and sale of counterfeit or substandard drugs, toxic and hazardous food. There were 202 staff workers in state agencies prosecuted for suspected dereliction of duty crimes involving such food safety issues such as "lean meat additives" and "fake beef."—2012 Supreme People's Procuratorate Report
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's. (Exodus 20: 17)
China's large-scale demolition began in 1991 with the implementation of the administrative law "People's Republic of China Urban Housing Demolition Management Regulations" and is now in its twenty-fifth year. Nationwide there have been approximately 64.3 million households caught in the recent wave of urbanization. They have had their land requisitioned and their homes and buildings demolished. In the past five years, the People's Court accepted more than 800,000 administrative dispute cases, of which more than 40% revolved around incidents of demolishing a building and relocating the inhabitants.—"2015 China Annual Report on Demolition and Relocation"
Father, we ask for mercy on China, for "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3: 8).
Original Article: 如何为中国祷告 (WeChat)
Image credit: Two Little Boys, by Long Chung, via Flickr
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