The Vatican has put a Chinese Catholic scholar who lived nearly five centuries ago, on the path to beatification. Paul Xu Guangqi, who lived from 1562 to 1633, was a scientist, astronomer and mathematician; he was a disciple of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci and converted to Christianity under the Ming Dynasty. We thank the Lord for all those who brought the Gospel to China in the past. We remember the blood of all who were martyred and those who are still being persecuted. We remember all faithful Chinese believers of Jesus, in the Three-Self or the house churches. May the Spirit of God accomplish His purpose among us.
Shanghai government is working hard to be the financial powerhouse like Hong Kong and London. In 2010, Shanghai overtook Singapore as the busiest containers-shipping port in the world. A recent collective dissatisfaction by angry truck drivers - they protested the high fuel price and fees - nearly paralyzed the busy port. Shanghai is the "seat" of Three-Self churches, but churches there suffer malaise in general. It is said, the more prosperous a city, the weaker the churches. For believers in big cities, there are so many things competing and distracting their commitment to God. We pray that our hearts will not grow cold or merely become lukewarm.
In China it is considered a good deal for a female college student to spend $4,500 (30,000 yuan) for plastic surgery on her chin since she feels that having a smooth oval face will undoubtedly bring a good job and a nice boyfriend as well as a beautiful image to admire daily in the mirror. We pray especially for parents who are believers and have a daughter. May the Lord give them good parent-child relationships. For the father we pray for gentleness as well as being a model of godliness and showing affection in concrete ways, unlike traditonal Chinese fathers who are stern and distant.
The government in China has set some lofty goals for the residents of interior China to accomplish before 2015. These goals include: raising the life expectancy of the citizens from 73 (as of 2009) to 74.5 years, basic medical insurance coverage for outpatient visits, improving the standard of county hospitals, and an out-of-pocket medical cost of only thirty percent. Giving in the rural churches tends to be poorer than those in the city and people are afraid of high medical costs so they must keep money for that just in case. Again, we lift up all the believers in rural China and especially those who know they do not have savings to cover any major illness they might have.
Before 2000 the people in China used to enjoy free medical care but now the majority of the citizens must pay more than half of their medical expenses. Back in 2001 people had to pay more than 60% of the cost themselves but in the past five years with the new insurance plans, people pay only about 40% of the cost themselves. We pray for peace and genuine security in God for believers, especially those who have chronic illnesses and know they will be a financial burden for their child once the illness worsens.
The graying of the population is a huge problem for China. By 2010 there were 170 million people over sixty years of age--about 12.8% of the population. Aging along with the rural-to-urban shift presents a special challenge for the planners. Officials are now considering delaying the mandatory retirement age or making women as well as men retire late. The people of China seem to save money madly because they fear their savings will not last through their lifetime or will be wiped out if they become ill. There is little sense of financial security. Let us remember in prayer those believers who have just retired, for their adjustment at home as well as psychologically. May the Lord give them "holy ambition" to serve in the church a lot more.
The labor supply in China far exceeds the demand so the problem of unemployment remains severe. Every year 25 million new people enter the job market but there are only 12 million jobs available, leaving more than 10 million newly unemployed people yearly. There are many unemployed believers some of whom have given up looking for work because they are older (more than forty years old). We pray the Lord will answer their prayer, not merely providing them with an income to meet their need financially but also give them the dignity and self-respect everyone needs.