Qinhai Province recently suffered greatly from casualties in a massive earthquake, centered mainly in the area where Tibetan minorities live. It is not only remote, poor, and lacking in educational facilities but most of the residents speak only Tibetan and their police had to serve as interpreters for the rescuers. Many regions in China, particularly those where ethnic minorities reside, are still undeveloped and lag far behind in economic development. We take this time to remember the work of the gospel among the estimated five and a half million Tibetans, for deliverance from spiritual darkness, unhealthy dietary habits, and a high rate of smoking.
The vast majority of the victims of the Qinghai earthquake are followers of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism). They believe the body and soul are still together for three days after death and there must be chanting immediately in order to guide the spirit in the afterlife or else the soul is forever lost. This was the reason families were anxious to dig up the bodies of those who died. Tibetans are an unique minority with distinctive history, religion and international exposure. They are not in Tibet only but are spread over Qinhai and Sichuan. Few of them have heard the good news of Jesus. We pray that more will be wiling to serve and show them the love of Jesus in His death and resurrection for all of us.
Sky Burial (jhator) is the Tibetan way of burial which is conducted at dawn. The full jhator procedure is elaborate and expensive. Those who cannot afford it simply place their deceased relatives on a high rock where the body decomposes or is eaten by birds and animals. This practice was once forbidden by the government but in 1980 they again allowed it. The work of evangelism among the Chinese ethnic minorities is difficult and often quite restricted because officials worry about the potential ethnic tensions. Let us pray for the spiritual health of the small numbers of believers among the minorities, whether they are among the Tibetans or Muslims.
Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) practices "sky burial" for the dead, but the Chinese officials say it is impractical to perform "sky burial" for more than 2000 earthquake victims and that they must be cremated instead. They claim cremation is a honor reserved for nobility and respected monks, which is not against the religious custom. Once a person has accepted Jesus, he/she will still live in a community which has strong traditions and rituals. We remember all Chinese believers who have unbelieving parents because parents expect or demand their children to burn incense for them after their death. We pray that believers will be good sons and daughters to their parents while they are still alive.
The labor shortage in China is expected to worsen and the future for cheap labor is clouded as the birth rate declines and the people become better educated. Farmers are becoming more prosperous and their children are more upwardly mobile, thus less willing to work at low-paying jobs. Let us pray for all of the young people who are being trained as church workers. Some of them are no longer willing to work in the churches because they know the pay will be very low and also they will lack support from the churches themselves as well as their own families. We pray that more believers will be advocates and care more about their pastors, especially the rural churches.
Chinese professors often hire people to write their research papers. This practice is very prevalent and includes ghostwriting, with plagiarism or falsification of academic performance. This rampant problem can be traced back to the 80's and early 90's when research in science was weak in China and there was little accountability provided. The practice of preaching a downloaded sermon is also common among Chinese churches because preachers lack time and effort to study the Bible for themselves. Many pastors are spiritually dry because they have to preach several times a week. Let us pray that many more pulpits will deliver fresh thoughts and a personal application of God's Word.
Medical liquor is a hugely lucrative market in China because those who sell it claim that it has health benefits and people often buy it as an expensive gift. However, there is no official definition or regulation for such goods so any alcohol products that have Chinese herbs added may be counted as medicinal liquor and eighty percent of medicinal liquor is not even tested. Many are attracted to churches that preach messages that promise, "God will make you rich and heal you of all your illnesses". This is especially appealing to the poor. We know God wants to bless us but it is not only material blessing we seek. We pray that churches in China will preach sound doctrine and that believers will be aware of false teachings.