Population experts say there are always fewer babies born in the Year of the Tiger than in other years. Chinese folk traditions believe that babies born that year (Tiger Babies) can put a jinx on others and they cannot be flower girls at a wedding or visit pregnant women or other babies. They are considered unlucky people and this way of thinking brings many babies in the Year of the Dragon rather than the Year of the Tiger. Older folks often will warn the young couples abut such superstition and folklore. Having a unbelieving parent who believes in superstition can present much tension for a believer. Let us pray for believers who have unbelieving parents, especially as they work with them in matters relating to raising their children.
The incidence of unmarried couples living together off campus is very prevalent in the colleges of China today. Many social services provide free contraceptives off campus to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the numbers of abortions among college students continues to be high. Let us pray for all the young Christians who face sexual temptation or are living together. May the Holy Spirit convict them and give them strength to keep themselves pure. We remember, too, all those who are involved in campus ministries who are able to provide Biblical guidance to new and young believers.
China is said to have 1.8 million male homosexuals. Gay bars or "Comrade bars" are found in all of the big cities and they are often very popular and well-known. Despite the seeming overall increase of a gay population, Chinese society still has a very strong resentment of and discrimination toward gay people. Churches often shy away from discussing sexuality or simply condemn homosexuals. Let us pray for solid Biblical teaching on sinfulness balanced with the compassion of Jesus Who was willing to be a friend to sinners. May the Lord give us wisdom and willingness to show Christian love in this corrupted world.
"Sewage oil" is the waste cooking oil collected by unethical merchants from waste bins or sewers and then processed and sold very cheaply to small restaurants as cooking oil. although it is unethical and unhealthy, it is rather common in many parts of China. In a society where "people will do anything for money" and "money talks", these frequent reports of incidences of impure food and adulteration unnerve people daily. We pray that believers will stay true to their identity as citizens of heaven and that their words and deeds will convey their faith to others.
Chinese cooking uses a lot of oil but people are getting frightened by the news of "sewage oil" (that which has been thrown away by restaurants and recycled and sold as fresh cooking oil). A health official estimates that the average Chinese will eat this kind of oil once in every ten meals. Purity, transparency, and truthfulness are not necessarily traditional Chinese values since "face" is very important. Often Chinese believers equate genuineness and transparency with spiritual weaknesses. Let us remind ourselves that all of us fall short of the glory of God, that we are all sinners before Him, and need His grace.
How much profit is involved in the unethical recycling of "sewage oil"? An average person can recycle four barrels of oil, sell it at half the price of new cooking oil, and make 10,000 RMB a month which is the average salary of a professional. There are plenty of people who are willing to go into the lucrative business of turning garbage into oil. Although many people in China have the motto "To be rich is to be unethical" it is also easy to become jealous of how others are doing that. Even believers are easily influenced by such thoughts. We pray the Holy Spirit will remind us of our identity as God's children and we will continually seek His kingdom and His will first.
During the Cultural Revolution millions of young people were accused of being in one of the "Five Black Categories" (from the families of: landlords, rich farmers, counter-revolutionaries, the bad element, or right-wingers). They were forbidden to join the Communist Party, join the army, get a job or get education. Great injustices were done to them and millions of them lost their only opportunity in life to better themselves. Although the past is gone, many still live in regret of what happened years ago. Let us pray especially for those believers who suffered great injustice, persecution, and even the loss of their loved one during this time. May the Lord free them with the spirit of forgiveness and the knowledge that God can use wrongs to bring good to those who love Him.