Last night, PBS’ program “Frontline” ran a special on Christianity in China. They showed the different expression of Christianity – the official church, the underground church, and the church that exists somewhere in between.
It was a very moving piece as certain points – at least for me, a Christian pastor. They showed on pastor’s wife whose husband was currently in prison for the fifth time. Each time, he was never charged with any religious crime, but always something like disturbing the peace.
Several of the underground church pastors were very optimistic about the future of Christianity in China. All of them showed no fear of government harassment. Instead, they all simply said that they were devoted to Christ and would live for him, not the Communist party. One pastor said the only hope for the Chinese people was Christ.
Frontline even showed business men who were converting to Christianity. One economist came to the United States in search of the secret to its economic prosperity. Amazingly, he come to the conclusion that it was faith in Christ. He observed that when people do business ‘for the glory of God’ they are more ethical in their dealings and care not just about profits, but the welfare of the workers themselves and the quality of the product.
Seeing all of this made me hopeful for China. And it made me feel frustration and conviction at my own spiritual laziness. The Christians they interviewed were certain in the power of the gospel to change lives. I wonder how many times I, along with other pastors here, preach but assume there will be little fruit because we have only seen little fruit. Decades ago, the prospect of a Christian China was dim. Now it seems inevitable.
So what should we do? Pray. Pray for the continued spread of the gospel among the Chinese. Pray for their pastors to remain faithful to God’s word and not allow their beliefs to become twisted into false teaching. Pray for the average Christians to remain faithful to Christ despite difficulties in openly practicing their faith.
We should also pray for ourselves. Pray that we would learn from the example of our Chinese brothers and sisters. Pray that we would look to Christ and the good news of his life, death, and resurrection for sinners as the only hope for our churches and country. Especially in the middle of an election year, we can devote so much energy into politics that we forget that hope lies in an old rugged cross, not a government. Pray also that we would be as blood-earnest in our faith as brothers and sisters in the East. That every minute would be lived for Christ.
You can watch the Frontline episode online by clicking here.
That was a very good program, I thought. From what I have heard from people who are in China, PBS had it right. Especially the part at the end about how the government supports Christianity publicly, but still persecutes non-conformists. Overall, I got the impression that the situation toward Christianity may be improving slightly, though.
i know little of the situation in china aside from the prayer letter i receive from a couple i went to seminary with who serve as missionaries in china. reading their letters, i am always amazed at the number of converts they have seen. even if the government there doesn’t make things easier, it seems God is at work through the gospel. thanks for the comment, brother!