“In Isaiah 40:1, the Lord says, ‘Comfort, O comfort my people.’ Today, in the midst of the Boston bombing, we not only need to pray for peace for those who are victims in this attack, and their relatives and friends; we also need to pray for the people of that land, pray that they will know that the Lord Jesus is the one they should turn to in such a generation. ‘Besides him, there is no salvation.’ May the Lord give peace to Boston, Amen.”
This message originally was written in Chinese by @孙玉春长老 (@Elder Sun Yuchun) on China’s Twitter-like microblogging site, Weibo. As technology allows for more voices to be heard in China, a growing number of Christians are using the platform to spread their faith. While the government often censors “sensitive” political topics like democracy, religious material is fair game. As a result, Christian blogs, forums, and news sites flourish online, with churches often posting sermons and meeting times.
To help non-Chinese-speaking Christians understand what is happening in China, a blog called Chinese Church Voices compiles and translates news from China’s online Christian community. According to the website, it hopes to “broaden understanding that western Christians have of the issues faced by the Chinese Church—to move beyond the simple narrative of persecution and see the richness and complexity of church life in China.”
Posts include translations of sermons preached in registered and unregistered churches, translation of interviews and stories in Chinese Christian newspapers, and a round-up of Weibo reactions to international events. For instance, after Rick Warren’s son committed suicide, one Chinese Christian wrote: “The Purpose-Driven Life has helped many people find direction in life. Now, in his time of grief, let’s pray for him and ask God to give him strength.”
The survey of Christian news reveals a growing awareness within the Chinese church to show compassion beyond the church to the rest of society. While faith-based non-profits are extremely difficult to create because of government restrictions, Christians have found ways to start schools, orphanages, and even homes for the elderly.
One article translated from China’s Christian Times looks at a Christian couple who opened the Gospel Inn in the travel destination of Dali in Yunnan province. The owner, who has the surname Long, originally worked a high-paying job before meeting his wife and becoming a Christian. His wife said she traveled a lot looking for spiritual fulfillment, which she did not find until she heard about Christ through an American couple. She wanted to create a place for travelers to come and find that fulfillment, which led to the creation of the Gospel Inn.
After praying about it, the couple bought a property in Dali and built the inn, where guests are invited to take part in Bible studies, worship, prayer, book clubs, and watch Christian films. Long shares the gospel with guests and prays for them. During the six months the inn’s been open, six people have come to Christ.
Another article from a popular Christian site “Kuanye Zhi Sheng” (Voice in the Wilderness), talks about a Christian school in Southern China that reaches out to the children of migrant workers. These children are left in rural areas as their parents work in factories in the cities, and are often taken care of by relatives. The broken families and neglect often lead these children into a life of poverty, crime, and violence.
The school’s founder, Sun, first travelled to Sichuan with a group of Christian volunteers after the 2008 earthquake to build a “tent kindergarten” called “Little Lamb Home for Children.” When their contract with the local government expired in 2011, all but one couple was forced to leave, and the group instead started a school in Hainan Island for the left-behind children.
Expressing the dangers these children face in society, Sun said, “the atheist education model must be abandoned, and we should help the children develop accurate worldviews and attitudes toward life, building upon the value system of the Bible. … This is a mission of utmost importance to the church.”
Using funds donated by Chinese churches, the new “Little Lamb Home for Children” houses left-behind children, educating them and, most importantly, giving them the love they never had. Sun said the work is difficult as the children lack any type of discipline and haven’t been exposed to authority, and the schools is in need of more Christian teachers and funds.
Still, Sun told the news site that she believes in the importance of their mission: “Only Christ’s life can influence our lives. Our teachers spread the Gospel through the platform of education, the parents’ school, and visiting parents in the villages. Our goal is that wherever the influence of our school reaches, the church will spread.”