Hong Kong's vibrant Christian community has long been a magnet for mainland Chinese visitors. Tens of thousands of people cross the border each year for Sunday school, seminars and mega church gatherings in this former British colony. Hong Kong enjoys greater freedoms, including religious liberties, than the mainland. We praise God for the vibrant churches, and their dedication to mission efforts not only to China, but the whole world.
In recent months, Chinese officials have barred mainland residents from attending some religious conferences in Hong Kong, increased oversight of mainland programs run by Hong Kong pastors, and issued warnings to outspoken leaders, causing some to reconsider their work in the mainland. We pray for the situation of increased restriction and monitoring of churches in Hong Kong. May the Lord give favor and protection to those who are involved.
Christianity is China's fastest-growing religion, with at least 67 million followers, many of whom worship in independent house churches or unofficial churches, often with the acquiescence of the government. We pray for the churches in China, especially at this time when the government seems to be tightening control at home and restricting interaction with churches abroad. May the Lord protect all who are under increased scrutiny by officials.
Chinese Communist Party has long associated Christianity with subversive Western values, and over the past year, officials have accelerated efforts to demolish churches, shutter Christian schools, and remove crosses from churches. We pray for comfort and strengthening of spirit for all the churches who have experienced demolition and closure. May the Lord give them wisdom and patience as they express their feeling of frustration and disappointment.
Chinese leaders have historically shown greater lenience toward Hong Kong, which is now home to about 850,000 Christians, 1,500 churches, a Christian newspaper and a Baptist university. Hong Kong Christian community is indeed unique and much blessed by the Lord. We pray that they will continue to be an example of love, unity and sending missionaries for all Chinese believers.
About sixty percent of Hong Kong's churches have ministries inside China such as theological training. But spreading the gospel in the mainland can be difficult. Hong Kong residents are often treated as foreigners, and they are not permitted to establish churches, hand out pamphlets, proselytize or preach.
China had promised to give Hong Kong freedom to be "one country, two systems", the term used to describe the relationship between China and Hong Kong. We do not know how long Beijing will keep her promise of giving Hong Kong special treatment. We pray for the future of churches there and their contribution and influence to all Cantonese-speaking churches worldwide.