Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Prayer Request 5/15 - 5/21

The Bible is no longer available for purchase online in China. Of the major religions in China (which includes Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and folk beliefs), Christianity is the only one whose major holy text cannot be sold through normal commercial channels.​ Christians now can easily obtain copies of the Bible or download it online or on their phones. We pray for a true longing for God's word, not merely enjoying watching sermons or reading short devotionals passed around on social media online.
The ​Bible is printed in China but​ is​ legally available only at open-church bookstores. People have taken advantage of selling ​the ​Bible online but the government has closed this loophole recently. This is in alignment with the longstanding effort to limit the influence of Christianity in China.When the Bible was forbidden in China, many people joyfully memorized Scripture.​ We praise God that the Bible is readily available now and pray that believers will be serious in studying God's word and pastors will preach it diligently.
The advent of online retailers created a loophole that made the Bible readily available in China. This was especially important given the growing dominance of online shopping. However, the overall restrictions ​on the distribution of Bibles remains and applies to only Christianity. It could be said that churches in China have thrived in these loopholes and gray areas in the enforcement of religious laws there. We pray for continuing growth in the churches and that believers will rely on God's power in this trying time as well as being bold in spreading the gospel.​
The closing of the loophole allowing online selling of Bibles is part of ongoing effort by the government to effectively tighten rules on Christianity and Islam, while promoting Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religion​s​ as part of President Xi ’s efforts to promote traditional values. Young Christians often use the Bible on their mobile phones rather than the paper version. We pray that more people get the benefits of​ the​ Bible through these new media, and believers will thirst after the Living Word and apply ​it ​to their lives.
Bibles are no longer for sale online in China, and that is bad news indeed. However, there have been no new regulations concerning Bible sales. Similarly, there has been increased enforcement of existing religious regulations and laws which means the gray zone has shrunk considerably. Churches in China have mostly operated in the gray zone of religious laws, especially the house churches. We pray for wisdom and ​a ​good relationship with the local authorities for Chinese pastors and leaders as they navigate a new set of religious regulations.
It is said that many believers in China had become complacent and even prideful of their church buildings and ​the ​size of their congregation​s​ before the recent religious crackdown and tightening of religious laws. We pray that all of us will again focus on God Himself and know our calling is not to build our churches but to preach the Good News to the lost. May we ​always​ be reminded that His Church is not the buildings but the people.
China has implemented a new religious law since the beginning of 2018, that imposes stricter controls on all religions. Much tighter control and stricter implementation of laws are causing inconvenience for various church ministries. We continue to pray for church growth under the new religious laws and ​that ​believers will not be discouraged and lose heart. May the Lord give​ us more faith in Him because we truly believe: “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” (Proverbs 21:1)

聖經在中國各網路電商平台疑似遭官方全面下架。中國的主要宗教有佛教、道教、伊斯蘭教和民間信仰 ,而基督教的聖經是唯一未能通過正常商業渠道出售的宗教典籍。我們為基督徒仍能透過手機和網絡下載電子聖經感恩。也求主賜信徒對神的話語真有渴慕,藉著神話語的引導,曉得如何活在神面前,而不是單單喜好講道視頻,閱讀靈修短文。
禁止網絡銷售聖經是政府針對基督教所採取的選擇性執行宗教法規的一部分,相對地促進了佛教,道教和民間宗教,達到促進傳統價值觀政策的一部分。年輕一代的基督徒常使用手機版聖經, 我們為更多人能因著這些媒體得到神話語的好處來禱告。同時也為農村教會的聖經供應和發送禱告,有些人想要更多認識基督信仰卻無法找到任何材料,求神施恩憐憫。
禁止網店出售聖經引來中外極大關注。事實上,並沒有新的條文禁止聖經的銷售,只是增強了現有規定的實施,換句話說,灰色區域大大縮小了。中國家庭教會一向都是在宗教法律的灰色地帶下生存。 我們為牧者和信徒領袖有神的智慧跟地方官員維持良好的關係,能在不斷變更的大環境下繼續忠心服事神而禱告。
中國新修訂的宗教事務條例於2018年2月1日起實施,對所有宗教實施更嚴謹的管制。這些管制確實給教會的事工帶來很多掣肘。我們為教會在新的宗教法之下繼續成長來不住祈求,尤其為未曾註冊的教會和信徒所受到的壓力禱告。求主加力給信徒,不因此而灰心喪膽,給他們屬天的智慧和能力去面對挑戰,深信 “王的心在耶和華手中好像壟溝的水,隨意流轉。"(箴言21:1)

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