The Lantern on Church and Society
China's burgeoning elderly population is capturing the hearts and imaginations of Christians inside and outside China. Together they are exploring new avenues to reach out to this significant segment of China's population. Here we look at some the challenges facing China's seniors and ways we can pray for them and for those seeking to minister to them in the name of Christ.
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,.
New China, New Church, New World
Now that the spacecraft Chang'e 3 has successfully touched down on the moon's surface, China can add a lunar landing to its list of stunning achievements in the past three decades. These achievements among them the most spectacular Olympic Games opening ceremony in history, the lifting of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and the migration of hundreds more millions from the countryside to the cities stand out as exclamation points in the fast-paced narrative of China's transformation. At once breathtaking and disorienting, the making of what TIME magazine decades ago called "The New, New China" has transformed not only a nation but also its place in the world at large.
A remarkable article appeared in the Global Times (the English-language mouthpiece of the authoritative People's Daily) on October 10 that openly acknowledged the division between China's official Three Self Church and the unofficial church and suggested that the authorities are trying to bridge the gap between official and underground believers that has seemed irreconcilable for a generation.
Last summer's crash of an Asiana jetliner in San Francisco shocked and saddened many in China. More than a hundred of the passengers were Chinese high school students enroute to a summer camp in California. The unfortunate tragedy also shone a spotlight on a growing trend of Chinese youth studying in US high schools. By one estimate 25,000 Chinese high schoolers are currently in private schools in the United States.
On June 4, ChinaSource conducted an online webinar entitled "Socially Speaking," in which we gave participants a behind the scenes look at how ChinaSource is utilizing the internet and social media to engage the Christian community around critical issues facing China. In this edition of the Lantern, we would like to share some of that content with you.
In 2008, the tainted milk scandal broke in China. Melamine was being added to locally produced milk products to increase the apparent protein content of the milk. More protein, better for your kids, right? Wrong. When added to food products, melamine can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. Melamine-laced milk caused the death of six infants and made approximately 300,000 children ill, 54,000 required hospitalization. The very thing parents bought to nurture their children was a danger to their health.
Public expression is something we in the West value as a God-given right but also take very much for granted. We expect to be heard, have the right to be heard, and are encouraged at every stage of our lives to express ourselves. In the West even a 4-year-old child has a voice.
However, for much of the world, public expression is not a God-given right. Christians in many places are not able to publicly share about their beliefs without severe penalty. The internet has changed this by becoming a public forum where voices can speak and be heard; a place where one can express their opinions and beliefs and pass it on to others.
Now, the internet in China has the appearance of being regulated and highly censored. The idea that the internet can be a public forum in China is a difficult concept for those outside of China.