As the ethnic violence erupted in Xingjian, waves of revenge continued between the Han and Uighur people. The government was quick to stress that "China is a body of diverse ethnic groups and Han Chinese and Chinese minority groups are inseparable." The minority groups have generally been bypassed in the recent economic boom in China. And, those who work in community relief ministry in the ethnic minority regions usually are monitored and must be extremely careful. Let us spend some time praying for these Chinese ethnic minorities, especially those who are Muslims and those who serve among them in the name of Jesus.
During the recent violent ethnic conflict, university students in the capital, Urumqi, both Uighur and Han were involved. The government officials specifically appealed to students not to take sides and remain calm. Urumqi has several colleges attended by many Muslim students. There have also been a lot of Bible study groups near university campuses. Church work among the Muslim is always tricky and difficult. We pray for the safety of believers and the workers there.
While many of the Chinese minority groups have moved to the cities and mixed in with Han residents, the Muslim-believing minorities are much more noticeable than others because they retain their clothing and dietary codes. Muslim restaurants can be found in almost every Chinese city and are very popular. Chinese believers usually consider their Muslim neighbors are resistant to the gospel and remain distant from them. We pray that churches would show love to their Muslim neighbors down the streets (street) before talking about sharing the Gospel in the Muslim world.
There are many who became active believers in college but no longer even attend church now that they are out of college. They do not fit into the open churches (the memebers there are older and not well educated), they cannot find a house church, or they simply have lost their faith. We pray for all of these "lost sheep" and ask the Lord to use other believers to bring them back to His fold. We pray, too, for those who have continued following the Lord and are now leading Bible studies in their workplaces.
Since the late 1990's millions of rural residents in China have moved into cities. Rural churches have lost uncounted young believers but the urban churches have not found them either. Countless believers have been "lost" and need to be found again. Many churches are sincerely trying to reach out to these "lost" ones but it has proven difficult for many reasons. We pray for these believers who are now in the cities but no longer connected with a church. We pray, too, for new strategies to seek for them and help them return to God's fold.
As they have moved to the cities to work, many people have stopped going to church. They do not feel comfortable in the urban churches because of their peasant background and their needs are different also. We pray that churches in the cities in China can genuinely accept these rural brothers and sisters. If we cannot love those who are weaker and have less than we do, we cannot love the God we cannot see nor can we say, "We want to be world missionaries."
There is a great difference in how one ministers to urban Chinese and rural believers. In the villages, Christians have more time and seem to be "more willing to be taught". Many find it hard to motivate the believers in the cities and get them committed to the Lord's work. We pray that those who serve in the cities will not be frustrated but will remain faithful and diligent in their calling. We also pray for wisdom and further training for those who minister in the cities.