China has angrily condemned the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to a jailed dissident who is currently serving a sentence for inciting subversion after he drafted Charter 08- which called for multi-party democracy and respect for human rights. Overall, Christianity has enjoyed substantially more freedom in the past five years than in the past. Generally there is better unspoken understanding between the police and local churches. We continue to pray for a good relationship between churches and local officials.
Among urban Chinese women we often hear the phrases: "eight-minute dating" or "speedy blind date". Their main questions for suitors are: Do you own a car? An apartment? What is your income? The entire focus is on making sure she will have a comfortable and secure lifestyle after marriage. Let us commit all the young Christian couples who are planning to wed into the Lord's hands. We pray that they will have faith in God knowing that He will provide and also that He has a great plan for them, not just having a car or a house but having Jesus as the Head of their home.
The birth rate in Taiwan is now the lowest in the world and literally more people die than are born each year. In the past six years the number of preschools in Taipei has dropped by 60%. In the next 3 years the number of classes in schools will decrease by 1000 and in 10 years, 30% of the colleges will have no students. Will the church in Taiwan grow in the next twenty years? Let us pray for Sunday school attendance which is declining in many churches now. May the Lord quicken churches to see the alarming decline ahead and be quick to evangelize, not be discouraged by it.
The leadership in many of the house churches in China is made up of relatives and friends. This is good in that there is a built-in trust with the close relationships but it also often operates like a family business in that others are not allowed into the leadership role and the church quickly becomes literally dictatorial.Let us pray for believers who are frustrated with their current churches and the tension they experience there. We also pray for leaders in the churches that they will be able to accept believers who are not related to them and allow them opportunities to serve. Lord, we pray for humility in the lives of all believers.
As the house churches grow in China both in the number of churches and in attendance in individual churches, it is important to break the mold of having the church run like a family which includes only close friends with leadership not open to outsiders. Dictatorial leadership and co-workers forming factions are the two major problems house churches face.Many churches are crippled by these problems and unable to work through the issues connected with them. We pray for humility, especially for church leaders who so often preach about modeling Jesus Christ but find it difficult to live out lives showing His humility.
In some of the urban churches in China, many of the members are now college graduates who desire to learn more about the Christian faith, as well as how it can be lived out and connected with society. Such requests require that their pastors have higher education and theological training so many pastors feel inadequate and pressured in front of their "more educated" congregation.We pray for wisdom for all of the shepherds and opportunities for them to receive more training on their own. The churches in China need many more pastors who are able to communicate with the new group of intellectual and professional believers.
In the 1990's pastors in China were either self-taught or had had only a short time of theological training. Today, young pastors are expected to have had theological training in order to lead a church. Older pastors complain that the younger ones have only knowledge and no passion for ministry. Younger pastors look down on the older ones for not having had a proper education. Let us pray for humility, acceptance, and unity for all of the church leaders in China.