Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 438 | Wed 18 Jul 2007
For decades the Chinese government has been denying the true extent
of Chinese Christianity. In 2004 the government-backed Amity News
Service put the number of Protestants at 18 million. However China
Aid Association reported on 8 January 2007: 'Mr Yie Xiaowen, the
director of the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs,
said in two internal meetings held in Beijing University and
Chinese Academy of Social Science . . . that the number of
Christians in China has reached 130 million [10 percent of the
population].' This is a remarkable acknowledgement. The vast
majority of China's Christians are Protestants who worship mostly
in unregistered house churches. Even though repression and
persecution persist and Christian leaders are still being arrested,
the Chinese Church is dynamic.
Today there is growing momentum amongst the 'masses' for a cultural
change. Driven by desperation, courageous Chinese citizens are
increasingly willing to expose and challenge endemic corruption,
repression, brutality and injustice like the recent scandals of
brick kiln slaves and contaminated pharmaceuticals. They see the
problems with a state undergoing economic reform and opening up to
free markets for the purpose of wealth creation, but failing to
engage in political or social reforms to encourage accountability
and to rein in greed, lies, corruption, exploitation and other
evils. Without ethics and self-restraint, free markets inevitably
fall prey to corruption and failure. This reality is presently
being debated openly by Chinese economists. One government
economist has openly linked successful market economies with
Christianity which provides ethics and enables self-restraint. He
is calling for 'cultural transformation'.
There is serious debate about political reform within the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP). In the July issue of Yanhuang Chunqiu,
China's most progressive journal, liberal members of the CCP
questioned the legitimacy of the whole system and blamed China's
shameful corruption and injustice on the CCP's monopoly on power.
Earlier, its February edition triggered an ongoing debate by
publishing a piece by Beijing academic Xie Tao who scorned the
CCP's continuing reverence for the 'utopian' ideal of communism.
The openness of the debate is remarkable in itself. According to
the Economist, one suggestion has been that the party gives up
insisting its some 70 million members be atheists. The Economist
comments: 'Mr Hu might one day actually accept this. The party has
begun to speak more positively about the role of religious groups
in fostering a "harmonious society".' Indeed, China analysts have
noted that the rhetoric has shifted from 'economic reform' to
Religious liberty in China, when it comes, will not only transform
China but will have a ripple effect across East Asia. Prayer is
especially required for North Korea, the state attributed with the
most corruption (at the highest levels of government), the most
repression (resulting in extreme brainwashing of the 'masses') and
the least structure (with no independent judiciary, civil society
or political opposition). There is a desperate need for 'breaches
in the fortress' of North Korea so news and ideas and the gospel
can flow in.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
* God in his infinite wisdom to continue building and preparing
his Church in China for the time of liberty so the Church may
emerge to be a blessing to the whole nation and the world.
* all Chinese Christians presently repressed and persecuted to be
fortified by the Holy Spirit with grace, peace and faith,
especially those in prison, that God will sustain and bless them.
* God to direct the growing open debate in China for his purposes,
in his mercy opening the eyes, minds and hearts of many Chinese
to truth, for his glory and the benefit of the nation.
* our irrepressible Sovereign Lord to intervene personally in North
Korea - opening doors, shedding light, revealing truth,
regenerating hearts and laying foundations; may his own arm work
salvation for him (Isaiah 59:14-19).
'Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King
of glory enter.' (Psalm 24:7 NLT)
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
MOMENTUM FOR CHANGE IN CHINA
China's economic reform has not only brought wealth but also some
scandalous corruption. Economists, intellectuals and Communist
Party members are increasingly advocating openly for political and
social reform. One government economist has called for 'cultural
transformation' and publicly linked successful market economies to
Christianity as providing ethics and enabling self-restraint. The
dynamism of the open debate is remarkable. The Communist Party has
now publicly acknowledged China has some 130 million Christians.
This momentum for change in China has not yet reached neighbouring
North Korea, attributed with the world's worst corruption and most
intensive repression. Please pray that God will continue preparing
China for liberty and will intervene in North Korea so news, ideas
and the gospel of life may flow in. (Psalm 24:7)
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.