Traditionally Tomb-sweeping Day is an important day on the Chinese calendar. Since 2008 it has become a national holiday and a mandatory day off of work. During the Cultural Revolution worship of ancestors was forbidden but such a deep-rooted Chinese practice could not be changed and is now back in full swing. It is always difficult for Chinese believers to explain why they do not worship their ancestors or participate in the ritual which honors their beloved deceased family members. We pray for courage and wisdom for them as they share their views and even share Jesus with their families.
As the opening of the Shanghai World Exposition get close police have taken extra precautions by requiring people to register the purchase of any knives, even kitchen knives. Every package carried on the subways and all cars entering the Shanghai metropolitan area will be inspected. Historically some churches and their meetings would face limitations as the police implement tightened security. We pray for all the churches in Shanghai as they take in huge numbers of visitors and tourists. May this be a time of revival for all of the believers in Shanghai, a time of renewal of their commitment to Jesus and faithfulness to His cross.
Although the safety record of Chinese coal mines has improved dramatically in the past decade, in 2009 the government reported that 2631 deaths occurred in mines. The major reason is that safety measures are often overlooked due to the high demand for coal and a lack of proper training of the miners. Many church workers are trained every year, but once they graduate they must serve with little spiritual or physical support. Many quickly burn out or struggle with interpersonal relationships. Let us pray specifically for those who are feeling overworked, lonely, or abandoned. May the Lord draw them close to Him and renew their strength.
The lyrics of a hot rock band in Shanghai ridiculing the outrageous cost of living there go like this, "Shanghai is such an expensive place to live, the most expensive in China. Shanghai people don't welcome outsiders, not even their own do they welcome. People with money are the only ones they like...Shangai does not welcome you." Everyone is concerned about the rising cost of living. We pray for peace and joy for all believers knowing that God will provide for every one of us. We remember in prayer those who are unemployed or are hurting because they live on a fixed income, especially those who are retired.
The younger generation of Chinese laborers has become picky about choosing a job and they will not settle for work that pays low wages or is without prospect of promotion. In the Pearl River Delta, the so-called "factory of China", this is one of the reasons employers have difficulty finding people to work in their factories. Unfortunately, for the same reason, we also see fewer people willing to go into ministry in the churches. They say the pay is low and they are unable to support a family. We pray that Chinese churches will come to realize how to honor and value those who serve the Lord, and that they will not ask church workers to "live by faith" and offer them little financial support.
There are many Chinese athletes who have become citizens of other nations and in international sports competitions end up defeating the Chinese players, particularly in table tennis. Chinese are generally ambivalent about these athletes and often label them as "traitors". Yet many Chinese envy those who are able to go abroad and obtain foreign citizenship. There are many Chinese who are involved in church work who hold foreign citizenship, too. They have the advantage of knowing two languages and also enjoy better financial support than pastors who have not been abroad. Let us pray especially for them, their ministries, their families, and above all that they will be humble and faithful as they serve along with their local Chinese co-workers.
The media has a powerful influence on society as a whole. People pay a lot of attention to their private lives and their marriages. In Hong Kong and Taiwan there are some prominent Chinese celebrities who openly profess their faith in Jesus. We praise God that whenever they do, the name of God is glorified. They are literally God's missionaries to the entertainment circle. We also pray that all believers will have victory over sexual temptation, drug usage, and marital infidelity.