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 religions 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 congregations 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)