With 160,00 episodes in 500 TV series, in 2008 China produced more soap operas than any other country in the world. These were made for television and were shown around the world via satellites and local stations. A local Chinese website boasts of 40,000 legally downloadable TV shows. Without a doubt the quality of Chinese television programing is excellent and highly entertaining so that even believers have the problem of becoming addicted to the shows and preferring them to going to church. Midweek church attendance is steadily declining in China. Let us pray for this "lust of the eyes" spiritual distraction to be lessened.
A Communist Party-owned magazine released a report of "trustworthiness" - farmers and monks (Buddhists and other religions) are listed as two groups people can trust. Prostitutes are ranked third and ahead of government officials.Nearly 90% of surveyed said that "what officials said is always a lie, cannot be believed." Unfortunately, the average Chinese do not know anything about Christian leaders or pastors at all. Even among Christians, there is still a large degree of mistrust of how money is handled in church. Let us pray that believers can be a light to society and faith in God can be extended to trust in those who faithfully lead the sheep.
In the past, rural churches in China have been particularly poor. Both pastors and believers lived austere lives. Now, however, with the improvement in the economy and with financial support coming from abroad many rural churches have more money at their disposal than they did formerly. Many residents in the villages flock to the churches hoping to find quick prosperity since the pastors have not taught against such an imbalanced belief. Let us pray that money will not corrupt the rural churches and that people do not seek God only so they will have material riches.
Rural churches in China have gone through a dramatic financial improvement recently. Money has literally flooded in for ministry, community welfare, training and equipping of pastors, assistance to the poor and needy, publishing printed materials, and even foreign mission work. Unfortunately many believers have found that pastoring a church is a "cushy job" and a quick way to economical comfort which has led to numerous financial scandals. We pray for the integrity of all church workers with a restoration of trust rather than cynicism among the believers.
In recent years money intended for ministry has poured into the chuches in China but a lack of accountability and transparency have invariably led to allegations of misused funds. since even the "best and strongest" of us are susceptible to greed and sexual temptation. Many churches also treat the wealthy with favor and despise the poor. We pray for a guarding of hearts, a renouncing of unholy ambition, and that churches will treat all people equally, not judging anyone by the amount of money he has.
According to a recent national survey, the top six favorite books are: A Dream of Red Mansions, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, Outlaws of the Marsh (all Chinese classics) and How the Steel Was Tempered (a Stalin era revolutionary biography). The top three authors are Jinyong, a kungfu novelist; Luxen, an essayist; and Quingyao, a female romance novelist. What people read influences how they think. We seriously pray that there will arise life-changing Chinese who will inspire believers to think of the love of God and how to impact society in their Christian walk.
Taking a close look, we can see that the churches in China are very fragmented. They divide over such things as political orientation, historical background, differences in their region of origin, speaking a different dialect, and even over being rich or poor. Right now a big split is found in evangelicals versus charismatics. These divisions lead to malicious criticism, forbidding members to attend other churches and even outright hostility. We need to pray for humility and a genuine love for Jesus Christ for our Chinese bothers and sisters. May the Lord have mercy on us and give grace to each one of us.