It is estimated that 173 million Chinese are suffering from mental illness and fewer than ten percent of them have seen a mental health professional. When people with this disease are involved in attacks on others, knives are often the weapon of choice because it is nearly impossible to obtain firearms in China. Nearly every church has someone who has some degree of mental illness attending. Other than offering prayer for them, churches can do very little for either them or their families. We realize that churches do not have the resources to solve this problem or even help very much, but let us remember these people and their anguished families in our prayers because we know the Lord hears our prayers and cares about them.
With the expansion of large cities in China comes the problem of increasing piles of garbage. China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest producer of trash. Cities there are producing six percent more garbage each year. Beijing and Shanghai each generate about 20,000 tons of garbage daily while Guangzhou's city center produces 8,000 tons alone each day. Good use of resources has always been a problem for churches in China. Many books and other printed materials are not distributed to the people who need them the most. Much of the material which is donated to them simply becomes trash. Let us pray that all the materials intended to help believers is used properly and effectively.
The media in China as well as that overseas has proudly hailed the Shanghai World Expo as "a celebration of nations" attended by the largest number of countries with the most exhibitors and attendance of any so far. Although the officials have deliberately avoided calling the Olympics and the World Expo a symbol of the rise of China, that sentiment is palpable and surging among the people themselves. In the past decade the churches in China have also grown to be confident and more and more believers share the view that Chinese churches will play an important role in the evangelism of Islamic nations. We pray that other believers will not only catch the vision but also be willing to humbly partner in carrying out the Great Commission.
As a whole Chinese house churches are still searching for a workable model for growth. Many are still struggling to know how to expand or maintain their ministry and also how to stay unregistered with the government since they are in the legal gray zone. We pray for the preaching and outreach done by churches under all kinds of limitations, especially that of a lack of properly equipped leaders and a limited facility. Many want to reach out to the children and young people but are unable to do it.
Whether to register with the government and become "legal" or not continues to be a thorny issue for many house churches. Some are negotiating with the officials in order to own property and expand their ministry. We pray along with those churches going through this wrenchingly emotional process which often divides and polarizes churches. May the Lord give them wisdom and a unity of spirit and mind.
Churches in China at this time can best be described as fragmented and divided. The biggest reason is theological differences which border on antagonism. Churches will not even meet or work together many times because they accuse each other of theological apostasy. Believers are often taught that only their interpretation of the Bible is correct. But there is only one Christ and one church. We pray for humility and a mutual acceptance of each other in all the churches in China.
Many well-meaning Western missionaries and churches take their methods of church growth and discipleship to China as well as giving financial support. However, many of these ideas and methodologies need to be contextualized and adapted to the local churches to be effective. We thank the Lord for all the gifts and ideas taken to churches in China and pray that these churches will grow solidly on God's word and not just try to copy and imitate what works elsewhere.