Sunday schools in China are blossoming despite of persecutions, according to Open Doors U.S.A., which supports the persecuted churches worldwide.
In an article written by Open Doors U.S.A. spokesman for China mission, minister-at-large Johnny Li, he described that Sunday schools are "thriving" throughout the country.
As a Chinese Christian, Li has traveled to more than 30 countries for Open Doors sharing the message of suffering Christians in China.
Li quoted the report from one Open Doors co-worker in China, "A few workers in northeast China attended one of our Sunday school training seminars. They went back and shared the vision of beginning a children’s Sunday school in their network and it has literally exploded with growth."
"They went from having no Sunday school to having hundreds of Sunday schools established," the report stated.
The report added that a Sunday school coordinator in central China asked Open Doors if it could send some Children’s Bibles to central China because over 1,000 Sunday schools has been set up, leading to a tremendous need of Bibles.
Indeed, the Sunday schools in China have amazingly grown in numbers in the midst of persecutions. Li has written in the article, "In parts of China, youths are not allowed access to religious teaching of any kind and are taught in school and college that God
Therefore, Li said that many Sunday school teachers "face great risks" to teach children about Jesus. Some of the teachers, who were caught by the police for teaching Christianity to youth under 18, faced fines, beatings, imprisonment and interrogation.
"Christian children can face ridicule, discrimination and violence in school because of their faith," Li also showed another concern.
Nevertheless, the operation of Bible schools is very crucial for planting the seed of faith among the younger generation, who will be the future church leaders, according to a senior unofficial church pastor in Wenzhou met with Li.
Li quoted the pastor as saying, "A few years ago our church had serious persecution; many of us (leaders) were arrested. Some had to be on the run. Because of that, the pulpit became empty, but the Lord rose up the 16-18 year-old Sunday school students to replace our pastors and many preached.
"Now many of them have become the pillars and leaders of the church. Sunday school is so important; we want to train them up from an early age to build a good foundation in the Word of the Lord. They need to read the Word daily…the only way they can do it by themselves is through the Pinyin Bible."
The pastor told Li that they currently have over 1,000 Sunday school students. The youths, ages 4-18, attend Sunday school every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In response to the challenge of operating Sunday schools for the youths in China, Li commented, "Sunday schools are impacting not only the children but the entire fabric of Chinese society. The continued growth of Christianity in China is dependant on instructing and mentoring these eager young people in the faith."
It is estimated that China’s population includes 400 million youths who are under 18 years old, Li added. There is a huge opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
According to official figures, Open Doors took 2.5 million training books, study Bibles and other pieces of literature into China and trained 6,500 Christians there in 2004.
"One group of little children, praying desperately to have just one Children’s Bible to share in their village, particularly touched my heart," Li said.
"They live in caves and were very dirty and very poor. All they had to live on was corn, bread and noodles. But they captured my heart. The children are so excited that Open Doors will be bringing them illustrated children's Bibles."
Johnny Li was born in China, but he was forced to immigrate to Hong Kong as a young child during China's Cultural Revolution. He has been serving persecuted Christians in China since shortly after his dramatic conversion in 1972, at the age of 16, when he was a member of one of Hong Kong's notorious triad gangs. In 1996, Johnny was forced to immigrate to America, as it became too dangerous for him to continue his ministry in China. He believes that he will eventually return to China to serve his people, maybe many years away.