TuesdayDuring the Maoist era in China, all religion including Buddhism was repressed but a growing number of people are discovering the dormant traditions of Buddhism. We praise God for the increased numbers of Christian believers in the past but the sheer number of those forever lost is astounding! May the Lord press upon us the burden to spread the gospel and see souls saved rather than reveling merely in a large attendance in the churches.
In China, some people discover Buddhism while they are in a university where Buddhist groups are active and famous monks and lamas give lectures. Others have devout Buddhist parents and grandparents and are introduced to it early. Bible study groups, unlike the Buddhist groups are frequently monitored and suppressed. We lift up those who lead and participate in campus fellowships. May the Lord add to them courage and faith so they clearly know the Christ they believe in and serve.
The government in Zhejiang embarked on a three-year campaign to rebuild old residential areas there--old factories and the center of the city. This aggressive project has included tearing down many churches and the crosses associated with them. Although many churches lost the crosses on them, we pray the Lord will comfort the people and help them to move forward in their ministries knowing they can still have a powerful witness to show how believers live out the meaning of the cross.
Some churches in China that had a proper building permit were destroyed in the wake of the province-wide demolition in Wenzhou. However, this project of tearing down the crosses was not limited to Wenzhou. We pray that this kind of thing does not spread further. We pray for wisdom and courage for the church leaders is Zhejiang and that they will know how to negotiate with the officials.
The latest episode in the government’s attack on Christian churches in Wenzhou is the drafting of regulations outlining precise limits on the size and location of religious buildings and the size and placement of crosses. The majority of house churches do not have visible signs announcing their presence. We pray for safety and harmony with their neighbors for them as well as effective evangelism even though they have to keep a low profile.
The new regulations on the building of religious structures in China highlight the arbitrary nature which lacks a clear definition and explanation with which officials in China deal with the church. National and even local regulations and policies for churches can change overnight so we pray for wisdom for all churches to be able to enjoy favor with God and the goodwill of the officials as they continue to expand their ministries.
One pastor in Zhejiang wondered why the government regulations apply to only Christian places of worship and also why the standards are different for Protestant churches from those of the Catholic churches. He appealed for fairness in dealing with religion. Having a good relationship and knowing how to deal with the local officials is a must for churches in China. We pray for wisdom and a great personal testimony for all who must interact with the local officials on behalf of the churches.