China’s countryside has traditionally been integral to its identity. Many of its great philosophers and poets have valorized the ideals of a rural life. Farmers have traditionally been considered the backbone of China, not only economically, but also morally and socially. This longstanding Chinese appreciation of the countryside over and above urban society was preached by Mao and honored by his successors.
However, as China rapidly modernizes, huge portions of its population are migrating from the country to the cities – so much so that the majority of China’s population is now urban. Though mass migration to urban centers is a phenomenon taking place across the globe, for China it is not simply a matter of demographics, but of the country’s core identity. Today many in China are asking what role the countryside should continue to play in Chinese society and how Chinese social morality can continue to draw upon it when so many people no longer live in rural areas.
This week, pray for China’s countryside and for the complex issues and questions surrounding it.
How to pray:
- Pray for the change in lifestyle moving from a rural area to an urban area involves for people. Pray for the opportunities it often provides to earn more money, meet interesting people, and engage new ideas. Pray also for the dangers it introduces: separation from family and friends, lack of social safety nets, materialism, poor housing, and risk of abuse.
- Pray for the effects of the Chinese hukou system. This housing registration system limits where individuals and families may reside. For those who move without permission, the hukou system restricts their access to social services. Pray for planned reforms to this system – that they would indeed be carried out over the next five years and ease the living situations of migrant workers. Pray for urban dwellers who often see reforms of the hukou system as direct threats to their own livelihoods.
- Pray for the gospel to reach the Chinese countryside. The church has a longer history in China’s rural areas than its urban centers; however, as the gospel has grown among urban middle class Chinese in recent decades, many of opportunities for renewal and education among urban churches have yet to make their way to rural churches. Pray for the church in China to fully include and represent both the urban and rural aspects of society.