The private lives and marriages of Chinese celebrities are closely followed by billions of people. They tend to marry quickly and break up just as quickly, often after less than 2 years. One could blame it on the nature of the business, the temptations or the lack of time together. The fact is that the marriages of celebrities are models and they do shape the morality of society. We pray for godly couples who can be a model for their local churches, especially for the young people. We pray that they would know God's desire and provide blueprints for marriage that are relevant even for today. With the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, husbands and wives can accept one another, honor and be considerate toward each other as the Bible teaches.
China's leaders declared in the Chinese New Year, "Let the people live with more dignity." And before May 1st, Labor Day, a new slogan has been announced: "Let the laborers work with decency." Buzzwords like "decency" and "dignity" imply the government's promise to let workers have decent work and pay, and to let ordinary people enjoy living with dignity. Many Chinese churches still believe that pastors and those who serve in the church should live by faith, willing to sacrifice with low pay or little compensation. Such "wrong" attitudes continue to deter many from serving full-time or encourage the trend of the "part-time pastor." We pray that churches will honor those who are God's workers not their servants.
The World Expo 2010 opened in Shanghai with great fanfare. Recently, the government reported that Hong Kong has been the the most "economically competitive" city in China but Shanghai is poised to overtake her. Also, in the opening night, the huge light displayed, "Hi, Brother Hu!" referring fondly to China's Party Chief. Traditionally, a Chinese pastor is respected, not seen as an equal, and not usually treated as a "friend" by the congregation. Similarly, most church workers feel lonely too. We pray for all the pastors, male and female, for their need of friendship, and that they would be seen as regular people, vulnerable and having weakness and needs like the rest of us.
The China real estate market stays red-hot. Housing prices in the secondary and even smaller inland cities have skyrocketed far more than in big cities. Hefei, a medium-sized industrial city hundreds of miles from Beijing and Shanghai, had home prices increasing by 50% last year. Many new homes sold are bought by speculators and paid for in cash and left unoccupied. The hottest conversation in churches is also about how many homes to buy and where to buy them. We pray that believers are not swayed by the rush to speculate, but truly trust God to provide and be a faithful steward of what God has entrusted us - money, time and talents.
Many of the new young female believers grew up with little love and warmth in their homes. During courtship when men lavish a bit of affection on them, they quickly "fall in love". Their dating soon revolves around making love and they are unable to sort out the difference between true love and infatuation. Churches in China need much teaching about sexual purity before and after marriage. Many older pastors still hold the view that sex is unspiritual. Let us pray that churches can effectively teach and talk about what God desires of us in our bodies. We pray, too, for grace and deliverance for those who are trapped in guilt and shame for former actions.
There are 9 million children up to age 14 with various disabilities or handicaps - about 2.66% of all Chinese children. There are laws protecting the rights of handicapped children, but in most of the smaller cities and in villages, there is next to nil in terms of programs suitable for handicapped children. We praise God as more churches develop their Sunday school programs, reaching out to more children with some visible results. Churches have also seen growth as their second-generation ministry grows. We pray that more children would come to know the Lord and that these efforts will reach more poor people and families with handicapped children.
Historically the Boxer Revolution was China's most famous anti-Christian movement but it was done mostly by peasants. The "May 4th Student Movement", however, combined nationalist and humanism sentiment and turned the intellectuals against foreign powers, including Christianity. We praise the Lord for bringing many young professionals into urban churches. The vast majority of students, however, still identify Christianity with Western powers and politics. We know only God can change people's hearts and bring true repentance. Let us pray for that day to come soon.