Luo Tian is a mountainous region affiliated to Huanggang City in Hubei Province. People in the region live in poverty. Religion wise, the Buddhist atmosphere is extremely strong as there are around four hundred temples in the region. However, not a single Christian church has ever been built in this land.
Brother Li, a church worker from Luotian Church, shares with Gospel Times about the situation in the local church. Several key characteristics are listed as below:
1. Stoic Buddhist belief creates a strong barrier for Christianity's growth
Most of the residence believe in Buddhism as Brother Li shares," Most middle-aged and elderly people believe in Buddhism. However, most young people are atheists as a result of being exposed to worldly values when they are away from home to earn their living." So far, there are only around 300 Christians in the entire Luotian region among which only around 20 people attend Sunday services regularly. (The total population of Luotian is 5.99 million according to statistics in 2012). These believers have been scattered around different towns and the age profile is pretty mature.
Brother Li mentions that he attempted to sell off a 140-sq meters Church estatein order to re-build a new building. However, local Buddhists are reluctant to buy this house just because it used to be a church building. In fact, the building was put on sales after other residence in the building complaint about church activities being too noisy or they are purely against any activities related to Christianity. Thus, expressed by Brother Li, " Situation at our side is pretty much reversed against the norm as the government supports church but the local residence are against it."
2. Lack of Shepherds
Brother Li says that Luotian is facing severe lack of missionaries or preachers.
There are currently 5 fellowship locations in Luotian. Pastor Wang, who has been serving in Luotian for 12 years, goes to one of the locations on Saturday to preach. Another 3 locations are taken care by a preacher who leads house churches. The rest of the church has no preacher, thus is lead by a pastor from Wuhan on every Sunday.
Brother Li has believed in Christ for over 2 years. In order to better assist Pastor Wang in the local mission, he has volunteered to manage the official WeChat account "Luotian Gospel" and help with video production work. Thankfully, a young couple has recently come to Luotian for service. Their father has been serving a fellowship, which is 60-kilometer away from Luotian.
3. Difficulty in raising building fund
Between 2005- 2012, Luotian Church has gone through 10 moves. Until 2013, local government finally allocates a piece of land for church's use. However, lack of building fund has been a pressing problem. According to Brother Li, the construction work still cannot kick off due to this funding issue. In total, it requires around 1 million to 2 million RMB for the work to be completed. However, only 0.2 million has been raised. If unsold assets are also included, the overall funding can only mount up to 0.4 million RMB, far from the required expenses.
Brother Li has predicted that the building project will still kick off either this year or next year. As for the temporary venue, the church has rented a private apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1 guest room, 1 kitchen and 1 washroom to accommodate up to 40-50 pax.
4. Harmonious Relationship among Various House churches
Brother Li lastly mentions that Luotian Church has been maintaining a harmonious relationship with other few churches as testified by active interactions among various churches. Oftentimes, members from other churches also like to pay their visits to Luotian Church.
5. Flourishing Ministry Work
Luotian Church, as lead by Pastor Wang and other leaders, is enthusiastic about organizing various church activities e.g. holy spirit encounter meetings, baptism sessions, outdoor activities, fellowship dinner, summer camps and so on. The church is also involved in social work e.g. helping patients with terminal illness, financing school fees of poor students, fund-raising for disaster-stricken regions etc.
Translated by: Maggie Li