Top 10 Christian News in 2015 China: Gain Deep and broad understanding to China Christianity
By Ruth Wang, January 09, 2016 02:01 AM
There are mixed memories for China in 2015. China suffered from many disasters but also experienced good changes. While facing much pressure of deepening reforms, China must take up more responsibility for this world in the future.
Christian community also reflected the various characteristics of this era. According to factors such as importance, click rates, keyword searches, readers' sharing, etc., CCD has selected China's Top 10 Christians News in 2015. With this retrospection, we wish to draw a clearer picture in China's Christian community for the past year and think about how to make churches in China better through the guidance of God in 2016.
1. #Publicness# The Building Codes of Religious Buildings in Zhejiang Province, the Publicness of Christianity and the Future Relations between Politics and Religion
In 2014, the "Cross Crisis in Zhejiang Province" hit the headlines in China's Christian communities and was followed by the issuing of the Zhejiang Provincial Codes for Religious Buildings in order to ask for social comments in May 5, 2014.
The code aroused much opposition because the code was thought that it actually violated the principle of separating religion from politics and thought that the government had no right to intervene in churches' internal affairs. Although the Zhejiang Daily published several articles to defend the code from the perspective of the rule of law and the publicness of religious buildings, some pastors still argued that the code should not be a legal basis for demolishing crosses since building crosses should not be regarded as illegal construction.
However, Christian communities failed to make their voice heard. Up until July, 2015, as many as 1,100 crosses in the Zhejiang Province had been demolished causing a strain in the relationship between the local government and the churches. Finally, the Religious Building Code of Zhejiang Province was passed and the Cross Crisis was left unsettled.
It is the first time that the Chinese press acknowledged the publicness of religious buildings. Today, the Chinese government cannot ignore the existence and rapid spread of Christianity in China anymore. It is necessary for the Chinese government to adjust its religious policies to exert the publicness of Christianity. On the other hand, Chinese churches must to try to co-exist with different communities and find a better way to integrate into society.
2.#Urbanization# Christianity's Transformation and Responsibilities in the Process of China's Urbanization
China's urbanization has continued for 15 years since 2000 and it is still far from being complete. Urbanization has not only influenced Chinese society greatly but also promoted the development of urban churches in China.
Indeed, as a preacher from a city in East China said in an interview, churches need more change in this era to manifest God's power and grace. It is also believed that churches can play an important role in promoting social morality.
Pastors from various cities in China agree that now there are four challenges faced by China's urban cities, i.e. floating members, pastors' inadequate ability to lead churches, young single Christians' courtship, and the churches' minimal participation in social services. They also agree that problems may be solved through offering more spiritual training for church members and influencing society with Jesus Christ's love.
In the past 15 years, while passively adapting to urbanization, churches in China thought a lot about what they could do for society. In the future, with even more rapid urbanization, they should also think about their missions and responsibilities. Urbanization can be considered as a crucial period for China's Christianization because it is during this process that more and more people will realize their spiritual hunger and thirst, the Gospel, on its own, will enhance the level of people's morality, and Christianity will introduce new elements to Chinese culture.
3.#Churches in the Countryside# Reverse the Decline of Churches in the Countryside and Explore Their Potential
Although urban churches have been developing very rapidly in China in recent years, churches in the countryside still remain as key component. However, they have to struggle to survive in the process of urbanization.
One of the major difficulties for churches in the countryside is the lack of training and support for preachers. It is reported that rural preachers get very low salaries and some of them are never paid for their work. Moreover, most churches in the countryside pay little attention to further the preachers' theological study. Lack of money and training makes more and more young preachers leave the countryside and strive for a promising future in the city.
There are also some problems with the system and format of churches in the countryside. In China, folk religions and superstition are very popular in rural areas and it is more difficult for rural people to understand Christian teachings. In this situation, churches in the countryside become a closed and backward society.
But we cannot ignore the great potential of churches in China's rural areas. If they can achieve successful transformation in the future, they will become a "spiritual holy place," a channel for rural modernization and a bridge linking the rural area to outside world. We have reason to believe that churches in the Chinese countryside will not only bring the Gospel but also civilization to the rural areas.
4.#Christian Education# Chinese Christian's Explorations for Christian Education
Over the past 30 years, China has experienced a rapid growth in the educational industry and number of Christians. With the ever-growing demand for Christian education in China's Christian communities, an exploration for introducing Christian education to China was started in the year 2000.
Until now, three local patterns of Christian education have been formed in China: family education supervised by parents, church schools organized by church leaders, and private Christian schools run by social organizations and individuals. Each pattern has its own advantages, but they all meet the same problems.
For a long time Chinese churches and Christian parents attach little importance to religious education. Funds and qualified teachers are other problems that hinder the development of Christian education. But compared to the two points mentioned above, there should be more attention aid to localization since most educators argue that in China, Christian education should be integrated with Chinese traditional culture. Chinese Christian schools should compile their own textbooks and develop curriculums with Chinese characteristics.
Although Christian education develops very fast in China today, it still fails to win the trust of the Chinese government. But how is it possible to get out of this predicament? How can we guarantee the legality of Christian education in China? These are problems that need to be solved urgently.
5.#Asia HomeComing Gathering# Asia HomeComing Gathering Held in Hong Kong
As a spiritual revival program launched in recent years, the HomeComing Gathering has deeply impacted Asian churches around the world, especially churches in Mainland China.
On Jul.7, 2015, the gathering was held in Hong Kong for the second time which attracted nearly 10,000 Christians from over 30 countries. Besides preaching its three core values - the voice of the Spirit, unification and hope, the gathering also highlighted the importance of Asia's spiritual revival to the whole world. Pastor David Demian, the organizer, was a witness of God's work in Asia. He pointed out that God needed Asia and Asia had its own mission. All Asian countries were members of Jesus's body and it was time for Asian countries to join together to light this world with God's wisdom and love.
The Homecoming Gathering also emphasizes the importance of healing and reconciliation. Due to historical reasons such as the WWII, there is a historic enmity between Asian countries. The meeting still aimed to overcome hatred through many prayers and Japanese Christians' apologies to other Asian countries during the meeting. Church leaders and Christians from Japan expressed that they hoped to work together with other countries to spread the Gospel and glorify Jesus' name.
6.#Mephibosheth Village & its founder, Xinwei# “the Founder of Mephibosheth Village, Laid to Rest
Called by God, Sister Xinwei came back to China with her American husband, Steve Schroeder, in 2009. They established Mephibosheth Village, an orphan asylum for adopting disable children throughout China.
Over the years, Mephibosheth Village has become a monument of great love in the heart of Chinese Christians that encourages more and more people to engage in charity. Both Xinwei and her husband believed that Mephibosheth Village is home for those "worthless" children, where they can find hope for their life.
In Oct. 2013, Xinwei was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the following months, her condition grew worse and worse. Many people around Xinwei could not understand why God let such a nice sister suffer from this terrible illness, but Xinwei never lost her faith. She shared God's grace and her experiences in Christ with her brothers and sisters in church. She told them that she believed that God has the power of healing her cancer, but she still thanked God even if she wasn’t healed. She believed that God's will was always good and heaven was surely better than this world.
At the end of her life, she expressed her own understanding of faith: to follow Jesus Christ and get closer to him.
She departed this world on Jul. 16, 2015, but many Chinese Christians were deeply moved by her story and saw God's wonderful deeds through her experiences.
7.#Mission China 2030# First Mobilization Meeting of Mission China 2030 Held in Hong Kong
From the evening of Sep. 28th to Oct. 1st 2015, the first mobilization meeting of Mission China 2030 was held in Hong Kong. Hundreds of church leaders and workers from churches from the Chinese Mainland, including house churches, attended the meeting and shared the vision of turning China from a mission-receiving country into a mission-sending country.
The meeting stressed that 2015 was expected to be the year when the vision of Mission China 2030 was presented, i.e. China's churches sending 20,000 missionaries around the world by 2030. The initiator argued that for over200 years, about 20,000 foreign missionaries had come to China. China also hoped to send out 20,000 overseas missionaries and pay off its "Gospel debts" and only by doing this, would China finally deserve the title of "Mission China".
During the meeting, many Chinese church leaders agreed that in order to achieve this goal, churches in China needed to transform through learning new church systems and church management from America and South Korea.
Meanwhile, several foreign pastors warned that Chinese churches must be alert as their wealth and freedom had been growing and could be the cause of sin, as people often depend on themselves and discard God. They also argued that Chinese churches should even strengthen their prayers, spiritual building, and mission in the future.
8.#Chinese Churches in Europe# Second European Spiritual Revival Meeting Held in Paris
While churches in China started their missions to other parts of the world, overseas Chinese churches devoted themselves to the revival of churches in Western countries.
From Oct. 27 to 30, 2015, the Second European Spiritual Revival Gathering was held in Paris, over 1,000 overseas Chinese Christians from over 10 European countries attended. In the context of secularization, the decline of churches, and Islamic extremist terrorism, participants of the meeting prayed for France together and encouraged each other to bring the true peace in Christ to more people.
Some overseas Chinese pastors thought that European countries are now suffering from spiritual decline and only through reviving churches can this situation be changed. They believed the growing number of churches and Christians would diminish corruption, reduce violence, and improve social security. But other pastors argued that the decline of European churches was nothing but a superficial phenomenon. In fact, the number of small churches has increased a lot in the recent years.
The unification of the state and the church has made Christianity a tool for maintaining the social order in Europe in the past 1,000 years. Now, churches are purifying themselves through restoring the leadership, seeking guidance of Holy Spirit, and carrying on the great mission.
The rapid growth of Muslims has become an issue that must not be ignored by Christians. Overseas Chinese pastors in Europe now also consider how to face the challenge and change the future.
9.#The 100th Anniversary of Samuel Pollard's Death# Chinese Churches and Society Pay Increasing Attention to This Foreign Missionary
2015 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Samuel Pollard, a British missionary who was sent to China over 100 years ago. During his 20-year stay in China, he made great contributions to the Miao people in Southwest China, including establishing the Shimenkan Church, spreading the Gospel, inventing the written Miao language, and setting up schools and hospitals, etc. With his faith in God and his dream of converting a nationality to Christianity, he turned this uncivilized region into a heaven-like land successfully and even died for the cause.
His story was almost forgotten because of great historical changes that took place in China in the following years. However, on the occasion of this anniversary, Chinese churches and the whole society became more and more interesting in Samuel Pollard's story.
His achievements were mentioned in the first mobilization meeting of Mission China 2030. Deeply moved by him, many church leaders expressed their determination of making more contributions. Samuel Pollard's practical significance to this era was also acknowledged in the academic circle. Scholars and researchers agreed that what Samuel Pollard did over a century ago was a good example for today's rural construction and social transition in China.
Moreover, the Shimenkan Church reflects the power of religion for changing society in the past and predicts the salvation of Christianity to today's China.
10.#Christmas Day# Churches in China Offering Services to Society During the Christmas Season
Being the most important Christian festival in Western countries, Christmas Day in China is a good opportunity to spread th Gospel, duiring which many non-believers are opt to church to celebrate this popular foreign festival.
However, today more and more churches are trying to integrate into society and to actively take part in social activities. In 2015, many churches in China participated in community services during traditional Christian festivals.
During the 2015 Christmas season, two churches in Xuzhou organized a volunteer blood donation activity among its members. Their good deeds were highly praised by the Xuzhou Blood Center. A church in Wenzhou invited several sanitation workers to attend the church's Christmas celebration. During the celebration, sanitation workers shared the difficulties they face at work with the believers and the believers expressed their appreciation for their contributions in keeping the city clean. In Putian City, Fujian Province, a church also recognized the importance of sanitation workers. Church leaders invited 40 sanitation workers to church on Christmas Day and gave each of them a down jacket as a Christmas present.
Jesus is always concerned about the underdog throughout his life and this good tradition was inherited by the early churches. At present, churches in China should also care the underdog more. The social caring activities held during the Christmas season of 2015 has given new meaning to Christmas Day.
Translated By: Jasmine HE
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