Xintiandi, a huge development just south of People's Square in Shanghai is the first example of the city's reclaiming its history rather than tearing it down. In many cities, old neighborhoods are developed as tourist attractions to preserve a bit of history. Many congregations face the same dilemma--to rebuild or tear down. Some of the church buildings have great historical value and heritage. Let us pray for all of the churches planning to expand, remodel, or rebuild this year. May the expansion bring even greater excitement for ministry and a renewed love for God.
It is exceedingly easy to find films featuring explicit sex and violence anywhere in China but such films for public showing are ruthlessly censored. At present, films deemed unsuitable for children to see may not be shown to adults either. Many Christians struggle with pornography and temptation to see these readily available movies. Let us pray that the hearts of all believers will be guarded and that we all may have victory over sexual sins.
The landscape of the Chinese cinema is rapidly changing. In the past several years, quite a number of Chinese film directors have achieved international fame, just as Chinese actors/actresses have become famous. Sexually explicit movies by notable stars are now mainstreamed. Sex in any of its forms has been a tabooed subject in the Chinese church but sex-related enterprises are everywhere, even next to churches. Let us pray for an openness, a positive, and Biblically correct teaching of sex in the churches.
China is said to have the most annual executions of any country in the world. A human rights group counted 2,790 people sentenced to death and 1010 executions in 2006. The government is now considering using lethal injections instead of the long-standingpractice of firing a bullet into the back of the head of the criminal. Most Chinese favor execution as a punishment and deterrent to the rampant crimes there. We thank the Lord for dying for our sins on the cross. We ask the Holy Spirit to remindus as believers that we, too, were sinners and are still in need of Christ's mercy every day.
Communist Party officials, in a futile attempt to combat high-level corruption,especially among members of the party, commonly pass death sentences for bribery,embezzlement and even tax evasion. Ordinary citizens invariably support this punishment. In the church, it is common for funds to be misused or diverted to a use other than that for which they were given. Let us pray for protection from financial temptation for all church leaders whether rural or urban, whether house churches or open churches.
Chinese Christians are said not to be sympathetic to the spiritual struggles of others. Often they say that their own faith is in God and then tend to ask others to live the same way. Being transparent is definitely not a Chinese Christian's "virtue" since many stress only their own success and then neglect to mention any weakness or failure they might have. We thank the Lord for many great Chinese cultural virtues and values but let us pray for a genuine dependency on God and a sense of constant need of God's mercy and grace in the hearts of Chinese Christians.
It is difficult for divorced Chinese women with children to find a new husband. Most prospective parents-in-law discourage such ready-made families. And, the step-grandchild is deemed very awkward in the traditional Chinese family ethic. Many single mothers are believers or have become believers. Their number one concern is whether or not their children will be accepted and loved. Let us pray for them as they manage their parenting duty, discrimination at work, loneliness and their close walk with Jesus.