Foreign Policy recently featured an article titled “Leave China, Study in America, Find Jesus: Why a growing number of Chinese students at U.S. universities are coming home with Christian beliefs.” Some of the best reporting on the topic to date, this article is an excellent look at the experiences of Chinese international students finding faith in Jesus while abroad. Whether you are new to ministry to Chinese nationals or have served for a long time, this article is a must-read.
Using the stories and words of the students featured in the above article, please join us this week in praying for Chinese across America’s campuses. And consider joining us every morning at 10:02am!
How to pray:
“China is the largest secular country in the world; young Chinese people often identify as atheists, although many may have visited a Buddhist temple to pray for good luck before an exam, or celebrated traditional festivals with roots in Chinese folklore… Meanwhile, the state-controlled educational curriculum emphasizes patriotism and socialism, promoting a purely materialistic and scientific worldview.”
“On Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, users blame a spiritual void for many disheartening social trends, including the flaunting of wealth by the country’s reviled nouveau riche.”
- Pray for China’s spiritual void. Pray particularly for the Holy Spirit to fill this void rather than the many other things people may turn to. Pray that the many other options before people would prove unsatisfying so that China’s population would continue to search until they find Christ.
“…a group of students approached Cai in her dormitory hallway to ask her opinion about God. She realized that she had never thought about it before.”
- Pray for American students to notice and care for Chinese students. Pray for Christians to openly and considerately share their faith with Chinese classmates and friends and pray for Chinese students to come to similar realizations as Cai, opening their hearts and minds to consider something they have never thought about before.
“ U.S. universities are the first places that hundreds of thousands of educated young Chinese are exposed to different religious ideas, and invited to consider them freely.”
- Give thanks to God for providing a space for so many Chinese to openly consider the questions of God, truth, and reality. Pray that these students would be ultimately attracted to scripture rather than the many other options made available on a university campus.
“Five days in, she learned her grandfather in Nanjing had passed away. Not wanting her new roommate to see her cry, she spent the night at the study den in the basement, surrounded by washers, dryers, and stored bikes.”
- Pray for students who undergo grief, suffering, or trauma at a distance from their families and support systems. Pray for the church to find these students and to provide the support needed.
“In August 2015, for example, 470 freshman from China and their parents signed up for a paid pick-up service organized by the Chinese student union at Purdue University in Indiana. While waiting for the shuttle to be filled, students were offered drinks and snacks including Wangwang crackers, a common Chinese snack — all compliments of the on-campus Great Lafayette Chinese Alliance Church. When the last group arrived at Purdue campus after midnight, church volunteers greeted travelers, wearing neon vests and waving flashlights to gather students and help them move into their dorms. The church also provided temporary accommodation for dozens of students at local homes.”
- Praise God for churches and ministries that so effectively serve Chinese students and pray for more people to participate across the country.
“Ariane Brotto, a Brazilian doctoral student at Columbia University, preaches to Chinese students despite not speaking a word of Mandarin. It started in 2012, when a young Chinese man in her laboratory kept asking her why she seemed happier than her stressed-out peers. One afternoon, Brotto stopped him in the hallway of her laboratory building and handed him a Chinese-language Bible. After an hour, she asked the man what he thought. He responded, ‘I want to start a relationship with God.’”
- Praise God for the amazing ways other people groups are also being called to reach Chinese students! Remember that the American church is not the only one tasked with the Great Commission. Pray for increased cooperation among the many diverse groups seeking to bring the hope of the gospel to China!
“In September 2010, Cai went to her first Sunday sermon, at Harvest Church of Madison… Not understanding most of the English, Cai watched anxiously and followed the other worshippers as they stood and sat, remaining silent during the occasional outbursts of laughter at the pastor’s jokes. Although the crowd was friendly and upbeat, she felt she did not belong.”
- Pray for our churches to be welcoming places for cultural outsiders. Pray that the American church would be at work to extend hospitality lavishly and to serve those who may be at a linguistic, cultural, or spiritual disadvantage within our congregations.
“…it is perhaps natural that Cai’s parents, who asked not to give their full names given the sensitivities surrounding religion in China, were concerned when she first became interested in Christianity during her freshman year. ‘We had only heard about Christianity, but had never really come into contact with it or gotten to know much about it,’ they wrote to FP. ‘When Shelly began frequenting and then soon joined a church in her freshman year, we really didn’t understand and feared that it was like Falun Gong. Maybe she would be misled or possessed.’ Their concerns abated in August 2015, after they visited Madison for their daughter’s wedding and were favorably impressed by her church.”
- Pray for the older generation to also receive the gospel. Pray that students who become Christians while in the US will share their newfound faith with their families so that there might be ripple effects across all parts of Chinese society.
“It just hit me that there are so many Chinese students. I know each of them has a soul that God values.”
- Remember the image of God placed on each Chinese student and pray for the hundreds of thousands of souls that are present at our universities.