This week sees the arrival of Chinese New Year, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. Most of China will shut down for the week as people return to their ancestral homes to celebrate with family. For Chinese Christians, the holiday can often bring them mixed emotions: happiness and distress. Christians are excited to celebrate with family and friends. But, they also experience instances when their Christian faith rubs up against cultural expectations. In a society where Christianity often runs counter-cultural, Chinese New Year is a particularly concentrated moment of trials. In this translated article from Christian Times, the author reminds Christians of what is most important when they return home for the New Year.
Bring Your Family the Gospel When You Return Home at Chinese New Year
This week, more than one billion people will celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year festival. At the same time, tens of thousands of people from across the country will return home to first-, second-, and third-tier cities to celebrate with their families.
In those moments, house church pastors exhort Christian brothers and sisters that the most important thing to bring back home for Chinese New Year is the gospel.
One Beijing house church pastor in a recent Sunday sermon talked about how many Christians must confront their anxieties when they go home for New Year, especially younger Christians. When they go back they face all sorts of pressure from parents—to get married, about money, and being compared to friends. To this the pastor encouraged Christians not to worry, to pray more, and to realize that the most important thing they can bring to their families is the gospel.
The pastor said he has heard many brothers and sisters share that when they returned and talked with their families, including their parents, often they would talk about many issues regarding moral decay in society. In the end many people would eventually sigh with regret and say, "People need faith." In that moment what Christians need to know is that "faith is needed, but not just any faith will do." Rather, Christians have a responsibility to tell them about the gospel that they know and understand.
Only the gospel can make people in this cold, secular age appreciate true love and purity. Only the gospel can keep people from becoming slaves to such interests as money, status, and relationships.
Over the past decade, with the waves of Chinese urbanization, migration has become the big phenomena of this era. The tide of people returning home for Chinese New Year is the most obvious manifestation of this. Migration has had various effects on churches throughout China. Many pastors share that most of the labor force of the rural church has rushed into the cities because of urbanization, resulting in the younger Christians from rural churches joining urban churches. Many rural churches now face having huge church buildings with empty seats. But, during Chinese New Year most people will flood back and the rural churches will be bursting again.
At the same time, there are also pastors who say that many Christians in the cities can learn a lot of new and modern pastoral and church models from the urban church's faith and life. The tide of people returning home for Chinese New Year carries some of the models back into their own home churches.
Original article: 家庭牧者劝勉：春节回家时把福音带给家人(Christian Times) (Translated, edited, and posted with permission)
Image credit: by Akuppa John Wigham, via Flickr.
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