NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–One commentator has described the recent spy plane incident over China — and its continuing fallout — as the latest example of the ongoing “love-hate relationship” between America and China. More recent disagreements over human rights and arms sales to Taiwan promise to keep the relationship turbulent.
The two nations admire each other’s achievements and eagerly court each other’s markets. But they suspect each other’s motives, and resent each other’s power. Will they become allies, enemies or something in between as the new century unfolds? No one knows for sure.
Christians tempted to view China through political or economic lenses alone, however, risk spiritual blindness. God’s perspective transcends borders and ideologies. He is Lord over China, and he desires that all of its 1.3 billion people worship him. Millions already do; many more are searching for him.
“China and its people are looking for their own destiny,” says a Christian observer. “They want to be recognized by the world as a government and as a people. But individuals are still hungering and thirsting for something meaningful in life. There is a great spiritual vacuum in China among the people. There are great opportunities right now to share the gospel, but they need to see that God is the God of all peoples and that Christ is the Savior of all men.”
Prayer is the key to such an awakening. A worker with many contacts among China’s house churches puts the challenge bluntly:
“Christians did well to pray for the U.S. crew while they were being held, but how many prayers are said for the 800 house-church Christians in China currently in prison for their faith?” he asks. “The house churches never pray for an [end to] persecution, but for the strength, grace and endurance to overcome it and to endure.
“China is still in a massive struggle between the forces of light and darkness. The church is growing at a rate of 1 million per month, yet the birthrate is 1.7 million per month! God is doing wonderful things, but they ask for your prayers that the revival will be sustained.”
Take Hainan Island, for instance. Many non-Chinese had never heard of it before the U.S reconnaissance plane made a near-crash landing there. Yet it is home to more than 8 million people.
Here are 10 specific ways to pray for Hainan — and the rest of China:
1) Pray for the impact that media recognition has brought to Hainan, and that the Lord will use it to bring Christians there to share God’s truth with the people.
2) Pray for the Li people of Hainan. With more than 1 million people, the Li languish in a stronghold of darkness. Their traditional appearance and customs have been laid aside by many of the current generation, but they remain an ethnic minority group separate from the Han majority. Fewer than 1 percent are Christian. Pray that the Lord will call out workers to bring the Li the good news of Jesus Christ. Fully one-third of Hainan’s population consists of minorities. Another is the Miao, who worship household spirits. Pray that they too will see the true light of the Savior. The Li and Miao are two of more than 450 ethnic minorities in China, who total more than 100 million people.
3) Pray for the majority Han Chinese of Hainan. Many have experienced greater wealth and physical comfort than their provincial neighbors. Pray that they will not use wealth as a crutch to reject the gospel.
4) Pray for the salvation of people in Haikou and Sanya, large cities on Hainan. Both represent the lostness still prevalent throughout much of the island. Pray that the Lord will raise up vibrant networks of believers in these cities.
5) Pray for the salvation of millions of rootless farmers who are moving into China’s cities. This year alone more than 10 million people — 3,000-plus per day — will leave poverty-stricken rural areas in search of any kind of work. They are open to new ideas, relationships — and the gospel.
6) Pray that the current tensions between the United States and China will not have a negative impact on ongoing Christian efforts throughout China, but rather open additional doors of opportunity. Pray that volunteers who plan to spend this summer in China to share the love of Jesus will not be shaken by the situation, but will sense the peace and assurance only God can provide.
7) Pray for spiritual fruit from the many recent Easter-related evangelistic activities in China, including Easter parties, worship services and screenings of the “Jesus” film. Ask God to lead many people to himself as a result of these celebrations in churches, homes, schools and parks.
8) Pray for the many Chinese Christians now training to go to unreached people groups and cities with the gospel. In one recent instance, church leaders from an ethnic minority underwent a month of intensive church-planting training in order to share the gospel with another virtually unreached minority. Pray also with church leaders in China, who envision tens of thousands of Chinese Christians committing themselves to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Pray that Chinese believers will continue to be faithful to the vision God has given them to evangelize unreached people groups within China, and then to extend beyond their own borders to other countries and regions.
9) Pray for “mass seed-sowing” in China, the nationwide effort by believers to proclaim the gospel to large numbers of people through print, audio and video media.
10) Pray for the evangelization of some 300 “medium-sized” Chinese cities — many with populations of up to 1 million-with few (or no) Christians or churches.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: RACING WITH GROWTH and WANDERING.