Most people with mental disorders in China never receive treatment. There is a stigma attached to such ailments. Some think that people with psychiatric conditions are possessed by evil spirits. Many people in the church still see mental illness as either devil possession or merely a medical problem. We pray that churches will be willing to reach out and care about these people showing love and compassion and helping them to grow spiritually.
Many Chinese people see mental disorders as a sign of weakness and regard them as socially contagious people. A relative of someone with a serious disorder may find it hard to get married. Families sometimes have their kin treated far from home to hide the "shame" of their condition or even keep them hidden at home. Very few of the pastors in China have any training or even the time to care for people with mental illness. May the Lord give mercy and strength to the families of those thus afflicted. We pray that family members can find a support system among believers.
China is woefully ill-equipped to treat mental conditions. The psychiatric system was largely dismantled after the Communists seized power in 1949. Under Mao, those who displayed symptoms of depression risked being viewed as traitors to the socialist cause, which was supposed to fill everyone with enthusiasm. Today, depression can be easily managed by medications. We pray that the Great Physician, the Lord Jesus will heal of those who are weary and heavy-burdened.
Few Chinese were diagnosed with depression until the early 1990s. By then China's health system was beginning to lose state funding. Hospitals were having to support themselves, and psychiatric services were not seen as money-makers.Caring for those with mental illness can never be a task for pastors only. We pray that more believers will rise up to minister to those who are mentally ill in churches and provide practical help, in love and with the love of Jesus.
The taboo against mental illness is fading and attitudes are beginning to change in China. Outpatient visits have increased by more than ten percent each year.The use of antidepressants is rising fast and young educated urbanites are increasingly using the Internet to seek help privately for their mental health problems. Churches in China are still hesitant to accept those who are “different and disabled”, but believers cannot love preferentially. So, we pray the Lord helps us to help all who need the healing of the Great Physician, with His compassion and thus overcome our fear of these precious people.
In China, under the new religious regulations, finances of religious groups will be greatly scrutinized. Theology students who study abroad could be monitored more closely. And people who rent or provide space to illegal churches may face heavy fines. Much of the transactions in churches are not transparent or properly recorded, easily become the evidences of government’s accusation of financial impropriety. We pray for integrity of all church leaders in how they handle church finance, so they will be “above reproach...dishonest in business dealing.” (Titus 1:7)
Many unregistered churches rent their meeting places while the landlord turns a blind eye, but under the new policy, they will be highly reluctant to lease to churches. Many house churches have tried to apply for the official registration with the government but have not been successful at all. We pray for these churches, so they will make the best decision and their faith in the Lord will not be shaken.