The city of Wuhan will literally be the new geographic center of China. With the completion of high speed train lines in 2012, Wuhan is only 5 hours from Beijing, Guangzhou, and all the seaports, reducing the time of travel by half. Churches in central China, which are few, are historically weak in comparison with the coastal provinces. Let us pray for the revival of churches near and in Wuhan. We pray especially for the seminary and Bible schools there; may the Lord grant us more workers for harvest in this region.
The key piece of the Chinese economic stimulus plan is revitalizing central China with a new transportation network. "If Central China is connected, the whole country is connected; if it is revitalized, the entire nation is revitalized," said the Chinese Premier. Central China includes these 6 provinces: Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Henan, Anhui and Shangxi. Nine cities are considered key development points, Wuhan, which is in Hubei, is the most prominent. Henan and Anhui are the bastion of Chinese rural churches. Churches have suffered a decline as the young people leave for work in the cities. We pray, as the prosperity comes with the improved trasportation system, that rural churches will be prepared and not be swept away by materialism, but instead be a great source of encouragement and inspiration to other provinces.
The recent economic downturn has caused many factories on the coastal provinces to close. But, factories are also relocating to inland China en mass because of generous government incentives and much lower labor costs. This, in turn, creates a wave of factory laborers returning home and finding work much closer to home. We do not know how this will shape the rural churches, who have lost many of their young ones as they left for better-paying factory jobs. This will also open new opportunities for ministries in the so-called "second tier" cities in the inland provinces. We pray that churches in these inland cities and rural churches will benefit from the economic boom and, most importantly, experience spiritual revival.
In 2006, almost 2 million people in China filed for divorce. The ages are mostly between 30 and 50, according to a goverment report. Shanghai alone had 47,000 people who filed for divorce. The grounds for divorce are mostly poor communication, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, infidelity, economic problems, bad personal habits, in-law problems, and childlessness. When it comes to helping believers with marital problems, most churches in China offer little substantive assistance. Sunday sermons usually do not address family or marriage. Let us remember all the Christian couples who are struggling in their marriage now. We pray that they will know the will of God, and learn to love and accept, as well as love one another as Christ loves the church.
One in six cities in China have a fresh water supply issue. There are 400 cities that lack an adequate amount of fresh water. 110 cities have a serious chronic shortage of water supply. Pollution of water sources and rivers with industrial waste is another issue the government is trying to tackle with mixed results. Jesus said, "I am the living water. Whoever comes to me will not thirst." Many churches preach the Word of God but fail to connect the Scripture with daily life applications. Sermons are often the same and similar. Let us pray for powerful teaching of the Bible in every church. We must pray for those who preach and teach first. May the Lord give them a thirst to study and apply God's Word first, not just think that they are fulfilling an obligation.
One reason many churches are unable to grow is because their members are mostly old people. Church facilities are appalling and spartan, having simple stools on a bare floor without air conditionin g. Newcomers find it both difficult to fit in and be accepted. The preaching also does not target those with higher education; the sermons are not socioculturally relevant. Many church workers are frustrated because they are not able to attract and retain newcomers. Revitalizing old churches is not a simple task and there is no quick solution. We pray that God will answer the prayer of those who are seeking church growth. For those who feel frustrated, we pray along with them, for church unity and vision for growth, as they serve faithfully and wait upon the Lord to do great things.
Every year, many existing church buildings need to be rebuilt because they are too old or the neighborhoods they belong to are being revitalized. As the local economy improves, congregations are able to give generously. Donations for a new building is usually not a problem. A great majority of these churches are registered churches who own their properties outright. Yet, it is often noted that after the new church is built, members lose focus and become less committed in serving the Lord. Division also happens whenever there is a major project, like a church relocation or rebuilding. Let us pray for all the churches who have moved into newer buildings. Pray for their ministries, unity of spirit and not being prideful to other churches.