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Serving China Prayer Blog

Serving China Prayer Blog

April 16, 2009

“If only one flower stands out, it is not truly spring.”

Filed under: Prayer for China — mei @ 10:18 am

A House Church Pastor’s Perspective

By Brother Dong

EDITORS’ NOTE: This month we are so glad to present you with a letter written first-hand by a leading Chinese house church pastor himself! “Brother Dong” is a premiere Christian leader on a nationwide scale, involved in a very wide spectrum of Christian work across many provinces. Recently, he spoke to us by phone, giving us his insights on what we as a foreign servant ministry in China should focus on in the months and years ahead. It was so profoundly valuable that we asked him to put it in writing, which he agreed to do and then let us share with you also.

When Brother Dong first shared with by phone, his framework was how we could better pray for the church in China.  Later, when he wrote the article, the same comments focused on how to best serve the church in China.  Finally, when we read the article ourselves, we couldn’t help but notice how much we here in the West could learn from the church in China.  It is our prayer that this excellent article will aid you both in better interceding for our brothers and sisters in China, as well as inspiring all of us to learn and apply lessons from the church in China to our communities of faith at home.

God’s work in China in the past fifty years has surprised many–Christians and non-Christians alike. Restricted circumstances and non-existent religious structure have birthed a homegrown movement, which does not easily fit into any traditional model. Maybe now for the first time Christianity has taken root in China. For the church to flourish within and without China, it is important for the Body of Christ to engage church in China in a holistic way.

First, help her stick to the essentials that sustain and grow a Christian or a church. There is a continual need for Bibles, and literature on spiritual life, preaching, and teaching, gospel tracts, world mission history and missionary biographies. Particularly in the current circumstances, these types of literature can reach many people at many places.

Second, help her return to the basics of Christian faith. The simplicity of Christian faith is the vitality of God’s church. The essence of Christ’s gospel needs no more than a mouth and a breath to spread. As the educational level improves in Chinese society, there is a temptation to develop elaborate theologies and practices, which are not only incomprehensible to many Christians and cause divisions, but also divert and waste the energy that should have been utilized to expand God’s Kingdom.

Third, encourage her to pick up the zeal and vision for world missions. The Chinese rural house church will be an important model for the future of world missions because 1) it is homegrown, which is non-threatening to local community and culture; 2) its strategies and methods are indigenous, mostly free of Western denominational influence, and so are flexible and adaptable; 3) its operation, without the burden of church building and clergy, is least resources-dependent, which in turn enables her to focus the resources for outreach; 4) it remains communal and relational, which is the nature of many societies/cultures in Asia and Africa; 5) it is of the lower class, which comprises of the majority of world population. This will potentially result in a shift in Christian missions and social development from “the strong reaching out the weak” to “peer help”.

Fourth, interact with the urban church productively. This requires Western believers to be especially wise, using caution in this effort. The urban church has experienced significant growth in the last fifteen years. It tends to be strong in education, affluence, skills, and resources, thus often self-sufficient. The strong background of leaders and limited exposure often result in isolation of churches. Intellectual ability often hinders urban churches from coming together because disagreement on certain doctrine or practice. Advanced training offers the urban church competence in managing efficiently, which could lead to some mega-churches.  This may not be a good thing.  There is a Chinese saying, which says: “If only one flower stands out, it is not truly spring.”   In the same way, efficiency of one entity may not mean effectiveness of the whole Body of Christ. To gain recognition, urban church tends to institutionalize through legal/structural effort and purchase of property, which is resource-draining. The consequences may be unexpected: when the Spirit is there, everybody cares for one another; but when the Body of Christ becomes institutionalized, each person becomes just one of many which often results in insensitivity and indifference. It is our hope that urban church would not fall into Western denominational structures and theologies.

Fifth, build dialogue and partnership between urban and rural churches. Because of societal and cultural differences, China exists in two very different worlds: the rural and the urban. Despite rapid urbanization in recent years, the influx to cities is mainly of rural outlook. The feelings of inferiority among the rural versus those of privilege among the urban often hinder interaction between the two worlds. This bears similar impact on the churches as well. They need to be pushed into dialogue and partnership to utilize their respective gifts. Rural churches typically are strong in dedication, human power, time, and contextual adaptability, while urban churches possess finance, knowledge, and advanced skills. Doing projects together may offer a good venue to develop dialogue and grow partnership.

Sixth, network churches from different background and areas. Because of the current circumstances, churches, big or small, often operate within their own circles. It would be beneficial for them to cross the boundaries which they have placed between themselves so that they can catch a big picture of God’s work and His call upon the Chinese church. This is usually not easy for nationals to initiate. Foreign believers are a good third party to initiate and sustain this kind of interaction. Only through this effort can real growth and expansion happen. Then many small and solid churches will bloom all over China, rather than a few big ones in a few centers.

Seventh, help her grow in the understanding of social witness and cross-cultural outreach. The one-sided economic development in the past thirty years has left out many in society. Most of the marginalized live among or are from the rural area. Christians have won approval through their upright living in their community, but they need to actively enter the society to reach out to the needy. Churches need to open their eyes to see the needs of orphans, HIV/AIDS, prostitutes, and the poor. Another area is cross-cultural: many churches have little experience or understanding of other cultures in China’s predominately Han Chinese society. As a result many Chinese missionaries are not effective in their work among ethnic minority groups. There is a need to understand cross-cultural issues and their practical implementation in order to include those people groups in fulfilling the Great Commission. Chinese churches are rich in resources, which can be effectively used for reaching out people outside of China, such as North Korean refugees and people-groups in Southeast Asia.

Finally, rekindle dedication to and sacrifice for Christ. As China develops economically, comfort, security, and stability begin to set in. Programs and strategies become increasingly sophisticated. There is a need to return to simplicity and rekindle the spirit of dedication and sacrifice. That is the most sustainable strategy in bringing the whole world to Christ!

November 25, 2008

Christmas in North Korea

Filed under: North Korea, Prayer Event — mei @ 2:55 pm

This Christmas Would You Join Us in A North Korean Christmas Tradition?

How do you celebrate the coming of Christ, in a land where the mere mention of His name, or even just the holiday, can send you and all your relatives to prison for life?

That is what underground Christians in North Korea face again this Christmas Season.

Despite the danger, they have developed their own brave tradition over these past 50+ years of persecution and martyrdom. We have decided to join them in that tradition, and invite you to do the same, with them and us.

When darkness falls during Christmas, they quietly slip into the night and go to a hidden location in the countryside. Along the way, silently in their hearts, they think of their 3 homes:

(1) North Korea, because it is where they were born,
(2) South Korea, because that’s where their hearts are, and
(3) Heaven, because that’s their spiritual home.

They cannot remember many Christmas carols, only “Silent Night”. That’s what they sing in the South, but not the North.

When they have reached the top of the mountain, they look to the South, picturing in their minds their Christian brothers and sisters in South Korea: openly walking to church or relaxing at home singing “Silent Night”.

But then, rather than singing “Silent Night” along with them, they instead sing aloud “Faith of Our Fathers”. The words, written out below, are still very, very real in their lives – Christmas Day, and everyday in North Korea.

So, a few years ago some of us started a new Christmas tradition in our own homes: We look east toward North Korea, and sing “Faith of’ Our Fathers” back to them, our brothers and sisters in North Korea.

Would YOU join us in Spirit this Christmas Eve, blending your hearts and voices with ours and theirs, together resonating our common commitment to the Lord Jesus’?  It could be as simple as adding a few extra minutes to a candle light service at your church, or pausing a few moments as a family at home.

Prayerfully lift up this hymn, in harmony with these brave brothers and sisters. They feel utterly isolated and forgotten, but will nevertheless risk death to sing this one song to their beloved Lord Jesus–even from the winter mountaintops of the most oppressed nation on earth.

In the Spirit by prayer, let them know: they are not forgotten.  If you will be joining us add a comment below to let us know.

Coming soon: 40-day Prayer & Fasting Chain for North Korea - January 1 - February 9

FAITH OF OUR FATHERS

Faith of our fathers! living still
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word!
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free:
And truly blest would be our fate,
If we, like them, should die for thee.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers! we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God
Mankind shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers! we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Words by Frederick William Faber
Music by Henri Frederick Hemy

For recording of music to Faith of Our Fathers click here or here.

Earthquake out of the news, but…

Filed under: General, Prayer for China, Earthquake — mei @ 1:41 pm

The people in the earthquake zone have been out of the news, but subsequently rains  caused widespread flooding and mudslides.  In some villages most of the people’s belongings were swept away, leaving them with only the clothes on their backs.  In addition, in many cases, all the means of livelihood have been destroyed (farms, crops, factories), leaving the villagers with virtually no income.  Please continue to pray for these precious people.

August 7, 2008

Continue to Pray for the Earthquake Region

Filed under: Prayer for China, Earthquake — mei @ 2:04 pm

On May 12, 2008 an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the richter scale struck Sichuan province in China. There were an estimated 68,000 people killed in the quake, with another nearly 5 million homeless. Relief workers estimate at least a 5 year rebuilding effort. The pain of those who have lost homes, children and family members is unimaginable. Let’s lift up our prayers for the hurting and lost of Sichuan province, as well as for those there working to bring hope, healing and restoration to these devastated people.

Prayer Journal Available for Download

Filed under: General, Prayer for China, 2008 and Beyond — mei @ 11:25 am

The China Games & Beyond Prayer Journal is designed to guide you through an experience of prayer (and perhaps fasting) in the 40 days surrounding the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Each day contains a meditation, prayer points, questions for reflection, and blank pages for writing your prayers and reflections.

The journal is available hard copy for $8 at the Serving China Resources Page or the file can be downloaded for free here:

http://groups.google.com/group/serving-china/

This year when you watch the Opening Ceremonies, and follow the events, join us in prayer for the Land of China and her people.

March 17, 2008

Welcome to the prayer wall…

Filed under: General, Prayer for China — PrayerBlogger @ 3:34 pm

This is a place of prayer dedicated to serving the needs of China. Whether praying for long term workers in China, for the people of China, or for those who simply wish to see the love of Jesus Christ blossom in this land - this is a place to cry out to Jesus and his people around the world. We ask that privacy be respected always, and courtesy and compassion be the basis for this community at all times. Thank you for joining the movement of prayer for China, blessings to you!

Remember, when posting, do not use personally identifiable information. Use initials for names and never post an email address, phone number, or address of a brother or sister in China!

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