Tuesday In China 1.96 million couples filed for divorce in 2010. The number of divorces has steadily increased by 7.65% in the past five years which may inidcate that the personal income of married men and women is growing and there is also a growing sense of independence among married couples. While there are more and more divorced believers in the churches now, there is usually no special group or fellowship for them and they are often seen as outcasts. We pray for comfort and healing for these "hurt" Christians, especially for those who are now looking for another mate but are seeking to know God's will and honor Him this time around. Wednesday Sichuan has the most divorces of any province in China and Tibet, the fewest. One reason is that Sichuan is the most populous and also has a high number of immigrants. After the economic reform and the"Westward Development", tens of millions of people left Sichuan to seek better lives elsewhere. This culture of looking some place else for work is very common among those born in Sichuan. As might be expected, the churches in Sichuan have historically been week. The young people do not stay around because they leave for the coastal cities to work. We come before the Lord with faith, praying for a revival of all of the churches in Sichuan, in its capitol, Chungdu, and in the huge city of Chongqing. Thursday Tens of millions of young people from Sichuan become migrant workers far from their homes but they cannot re-locate and settle their families in the new places. Usually the wife must stay at home to care for elderly parents, thus keeping the young couples separated for long periods of time and causing problems in the marriage. We pray for believers who are living apart because of their work and are unable to see each other regularly. May the Lord through His grace protect and guard their hearts and keep them away from temptation so that their relationship can endure and continue to grow. We also lift up their children who are often left with grandparents and get only phone calls from their parents from time to time. Friday Until 2003 Chinese couples filing for divorce had to get written approval of the official of the neighborhood. Many couples chose to live in a "dead marriage" to protect their privacy and avoid shame. The simplification of marriage registration now allows couples to get immediate divorce at the local department of civil affairs. We take this time to pray for believers whose marriages are less than healthy or in a poor condidtion. Even the families and marriages of many pastors are not in a healthy state. We pray for God's mercy on our marriages and families. Churches cannot be healthy when the families of believers are sick and dysfunctional. Saturday Two and a half years ago Taiwan allowed Chinese from Mainland China to visit which has led to a boom in tourism and generated a lot of earnings and business opportunities there. Since January of this year the number of tourists from China has increased from 3000 to 4000 a day. It is possible the number will be 5000 daily visitors by the middle of the year and in the near future escalate to 10,000 daily. With so many visitors from Mainland China arriving and the possibility of self-guided tourism, we see the probability of believers attending church in Taiwan or the opening for churches in Taiwan to share the gospel with these people. We pray that this will be a wide open opportunity for the spreading of the gospel and that believers from both sides of the Strait will be worshipping together. Sunday Officials recently dispelled the rumor that China had plans to introduce new higher denomination banknotes. At present 100 yuan (about $15. US) is the bank note of the highest value in China. Although 100 yuan is barely enough money to buy a decent dinner in a big city, it would be difficult to find 100 yuan notes in the offering plates of an average church in the city. We pray that Chinese believers will quickly learn to be cheerful givers and faithful stewards of that with which the Lord entrusts them. Monday Why do the people of China save so much and spend so little? One reason is the lack of a social security system so they must save for their retirement. They also save to send their child to a private school to get ahead academically. They must also save to have money for medical bills. Christians are not exempted from anxiety and worry. We simply pray that all of us will affirm our faith in the heavenly Father Who promised to take care of us. We do want to remember those who are old, or are ill and lack financial resources. May the Lord provide for them through the kindness and love of believers in their churches.
Tuesday In large cities like Beijing and Shanghai where rent is very high, many of the so-called "ant people" (college grads without a good job) resort to renting rooms together. In 2010 the increase in the price of rent in large cities surpassed the increases in the price of housing. As the rent continues its upward trend, more young people will have to live together in rented rooms. We remember all the young people who grew up in Christian homes but are now living away from home and their only contact with their family is by an occasional phone call. We pray the Holy Spirit will move their hearts to remember that God is always with them and He has a great purpose for them. Wednesday Beijing is implementing a new policy this year which forbids the division of one's basement for rental purposes and thus stops the subletting of rooms. This new restriction will undoubtedly drive the millions of lower-wage earners right out of the capitol and make Beijing so expensive that only the elites can live there.Finding affordable housing in big cities is very difficult for migrant workers. If Beijing succeeds in this effort, other big cities might do the same. We remember all the believers who face the tough decision of whether to go back home to their villages or pay more for rent in order to work in the cities. We also uplift their families in our prayer because most of them have to live apart from their families. Thursday The term "Northward drift" implies that people are going to Beijing to find work. It is not something new because Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, and millions of other young Chinese have gone to the capitol seeking new opportunities. Mao worked in the university library. The "Northward drift" actually brought many talented youth to the cities and there have been countless success stories.Maybe officials who chased away young people who wanted to realize their dream in the capitol did more harm than good.Let us pray for all the young believers who are in cities trying their luck. May the Lord give them clear direction, open doors, and answer their prayers as they seek to honor God in their lives. Friday "Ant people" are young people who rent rooms together because they cannot afford the high rent in the cities. In Beijing, certain neighborhoods are well known for this kind of high-density living. Although the rent becomes more affordable with this arrangement, it attracts migrant workers and creates a dilemma for public safety. In China's big cities, there are many pockets where the "outsiders" outnumber the native residents and these neighborhoods have very few churches. Let us pray that the gospel can be shared with the many people who feel they are trapped and lost in cities in China. Saturday "Naked marriage" is a new phrase coined for those who get married with only a court registration. They do not buy an apartment or a car. They host no wedding feast and don't even spend money to buy a ring. This is a new social phenomenon in China which is popular among those twenty to thirty-five years of age. They consider themselves avant-garde bucking the social norm of marriage customs even though many are white collar workers with a high income and highly educated .We pray for those young believers whose courtship or even marriage did not receive the approval of their parents. May the Lord bring healing and reconciliation with their families. We remember, too, those who are livng together but know well this is not the will of God because of their childhood training. Sunday In the past decade as the Chinese government has changed its policy toward religion, traditional religions have returned and many Chinese have embraced them. Joining the boom in tourism, many old Buddhist and Taoist temples have worked with the government to rebuild and make themselves tourist destinations. Unfortunately the majority of the older Christian churches are in city centers and are facing demolition or are considered "too old to remodel". We remember these older churches in particular. May the Lord give them a special burden to share their faith with passion and renewed effort because of their rich heritage and blessings. Monday Many new Chinese believers are immediately pressed into serving in the church before they have been baptized or have even read the Bible through once. This can be a very dangerous practice because their faith is so new and when they then encounter difficulties, they often become easily frustrated and give up. Let us commit to pray for all the new believers in the churches in China that their faith will be kept safe and growing. We pray for God's mercy in helpng churches to know how to nurture the new believers and help them to grow solidly on God's Word so that their faith will then bear even more fruit.
Tuesday As millions of migrant workers return home for the Spring Festival nearly all the businesses in the cities face a paralysis since the low-wage workers are absent. Once they return to the cities, these people will most likely not return to their old jobs but seek a higher-paying job elsewhere.So the Chinese New Year presents a headache for employers in China. Many churches face the departure of their pastors for various reasons, often because of the low compensation they receive. We pray for the need for faithful and sacrificial workers in the churches in China. We also ask the Lord to help more churches to be kind and considerate to their pastors. Wednesday The shortage of workers during the Chinese New Year holiday is a perennial headache for employers. Migrant workers want to go home early and employers try to hold workers by withholding part of their wages until they return. This shortage of workers and the turnover is especially acute in the service sector. It is natural to desire an increase in salary and church workers are not exampt from such a desire. Let us pray that believers and church leaders will truly appreciate their shepherds, not only by helping financially but also by showing care for the needs of their families since many pastors serve by themselves and their family is not part of the church. Thursday The annual New Year Gala is the most watched TV program in China. Critics said the 2011 show was spectacular but although Beijing has tried to push the use of Putonghua as the common langage in the nation, there were way too many acts with provincial dialects and the vast majority of the audience was not able to understand them so the humor was lost. Many pastors feel they are handicapped and not very effective because their Putonghua is not very good and that fluency in the local dialect gives them a great advantage in getting close to their church members. Let us pray for all the preachers in the churches in China that they may proclaim the Word of God with power, boldness, and clarity. Friday People familiar with China know there are many dialects spoken throghout the country. Some are provincial and some are very local but used by tens of millions of people. Although most people can switch between Putonghua and their mother tongue or their local dialect, the official policy is to make all entertainment programs use Putonghua. There are many churches that contuct their services in their local dialect. We pray for the growth of all the churches whose sermons are preached in the local dialects. Many the name of Jesus be praised among all people and in all tongues. Saturday The Huai River which is 1,000 km long originates in Henan and dissects that province as well as Anhui and Jiangsu. These are the provinces that have the most Chinese believers in all of the country. The Huai River is also the geographical line which divides China into North and South China. Let us pray for the churches in these three provinces. The majority of them suffer from a lack of shepherds, the exodus of their younger believers who leave to work in the cities, and the rampant spread of cults that divide and destroy many churches. Sunday Although the investment in the Huai River was the highest of that of any river under China's River Pollution Control, it still is the most polluted river in China. Water in 78.7% of its river courses fails to meet the standards for drinking . Ten years ago the Huai River had over sixty species of fish in it but few survive today. Christian churches along the Huai River were once the most thriving of any in China but they are now the most ravaged by cults and divisions in the churches. May the Lord have mercy on the churches in this region and may He revive those sheep who are weakened and dying spiritually. Monday The two major problems that have stunted the growth of house churches in China have been the lack of quality shepherds, and believers who lack a depth in their knowedge of the truth. These problems persist and there is a great need for long-term training.There is a trend to divert the focus of the training and resources to helping churches in the cities. Let us pray that those helping the rural churches will not become discouraged and the training there will not lose steam. May the Lord send forth more people who are willing to work fervently for the rural churches in China.
Tuesday The government in Guangdong is planning to raise the minimal wage by 18% this year and as a result many foreign-owned factories are not planning to hire new workers because then they would have to raise wages to retain their current workers. They must choose between either moving to countries in Southeast Asia that pay even lower wages or expect 20% of their factories to shut down in three to five years. Churches face the touchy problem of deciding whether they should give their pastors a raise this year. With inflation and low wages, churches in China have an ever-growing problem with a shortage of shepherds. May the Lord move the churches to think about how to take good are of His workers. Wednesday Last year in Taiwan only 160,000 children were born--a record low. If this trend continues officials estimate that sixty colleges will close in ten years. They hope that the birth rate will increase in the coming years of the Rabbit and the Dragon which are considered auspicious years to have children according to the Chinese calendar. Let us pray for all the newborns coming into the Chinese church during these next two years. Pray that churches will put an emphasis on the second generation in their midst and have well-planned strategies for child care, Sunday school, and teaching parents to raise up Godly children. Thursday Although the fertility rate in Taiwan hit a new low last year, the number of marriages has jumped by 20,000 couples to 140,000. Officials have said that although the economy in Taiwan has rebounded, the cost of living has increased and companies are not giving bonuses so couples are not likely to have more children. We pray for all the young couples in the churches, for their spiritual growth, that they will learn to love and honor each other as well as have commitment to honor Jesus in their plan to buy an apartment and prepare for pregnancy. Friday Churches in China struggle to deal with all sorts of cultural phenomenon in the society. For example, whenever a popular film is released, the church feels obligated to give an "official analysis" from a Biblical perspective. Such an endeavor is overwhelmingly time-consuming and can be divisive. Chinese believers like to analyze and debate issues which is not bad but this tendency often leads to arguments and hurts the unity within the church body. May the Lord grant us wisdom and humility especially among the intellectuals in the urban churches. Saturday The generation born after 1980 has witnessed many extra-marital affairs and broken marriages so it is of little wonder that many of them feel anxious about marriage themselves, consider marriage futile, or are afraid of marital commitment. Many young believers have come from broken families. Although they know God is the source of love, they have many worries about marriage and many have also made mistakes sexually in the past. We pray for healing of the emotional wounds they carry and ask God to prepare the best for them. Sunday Typically, the house churches in China have a shallow understanding of orthodox theology. They fight over minor issues or stress denominational views. Such bickering destroys unity and leads to pride and mistrust among the believers. We pray that all believers will be humble before the Lord. We ask the Lord for the spirit of unity in these churches because we know that without confession of sins, humility and unity, there cannot be a revival. Monday According to an official survey by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), domestic violence exists in thirty-one percent of the 270 million families in China with ninety percent of it committed by men. It is not a secret that not all men attending church are good husbands at home even though many of them even serve in leadership roles in the church. We want to pray that Chinese male believers would be godly men, as the apostle Paul said, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." (I Tim. 2:8)