China is undergoing an economic explosion. It is now one of the top four tourist nations with inbound tourists reaching 120 million in just one year. Its tourism industry employs 7 million people directly. 30 million Chinese visited other nations in a single year also. Construction is unparalleled. Half the world's cranes are being used in the country,
This expansion is having a huge effects on the world's resources. Though many of its 1.3 billion population are poor, there are 25 million cars on China's roads. The mobile phone industry is already twice the size it is in the USA. In a single year China manufactures 300 million of the world's mobile phones. It manufacturs 50% of the worlds shoes and 70% of the world's DVDs and micro-wave ovens.
But what is happening spiritually? There are two "churches" in China. The official church is heavilly controlled by the atheistic Communist government. It allows only a modified Bible. No evangelism is permitted and the Deity of Christ is not allowed to be taught. In contrast, the underground church exists in a context of severe persecution. Imprisonment, beatings and torture are common. Despite this, the underground church is growing and is conservatively estimated at 80 million.
Chris Jones (Elim's international Missions Director) and I had arranged to fly into Hong Kong and from there to enter mainland China to meet with some of the leaders of the underground church. However on our arrival in Hong Kong our key contact "John" failed to meet us. He and his wife have been referred to in our prayer request as John and Mary (not their real names). Mary is Chinese and has spent time chained in prison simply for bring a Christian.
We found out on our return that John and the leaders had been arrested while in a meeting and John was not released until Chris and I had left the country. Our time however was valuably spent as we were able to spend time with a group who have multi-level means of outreach into China. As a result, Chris will be soon unpacking the possibilities for Elim people to be personally involved in this vital mission field. The short-term obstacles put in our way only served to re-double our determination to ensure that our Movement plays its part in reaching this great people for Christ.
Hundreds of thousands of people enter Hong Kong from China on a regular basis and the picture above shows a team, based in Hong Kong, that provides free literature for those who enter the harbour. It was a joy to meet and pray for them before we left.