Revival in China

( [email protected] ) Dec 19, 2003 10:51 AM EST

In Sichuan Province, more than 90,000 people became Christians in a recent four-month period. More than 40,000 became Christians in one month, and the rest converted after a major crackdown on Christians. More than 10,000 were water baptized in a two-month period. This is just one of many places in China where Christianity is growing rapidly. A house church leader in Guangdong recently requested 100,000 Bibles and Christian literature from an outside supplier. He said that would satisfy only the immediate need of those to whom he ministers.

More young people in China are becoming Christians. The younger generation is flocking into churches, radically transforming the composition of many congregations from mainly elderly people to more than half young people, Compass Direct News said. Churches of the official Three Self Patriotic Movement in larger cities are bursting at the seams with young people, In Beijing's university district, the Haidian Protestant Church is filled to capacity every Sunday, mostly with students. Sun Xi-Pei, vice-chairman of the China Christian Council, said. The challenge is "to turn growth into quality" by training them, he said.

The Three Self Patriotic Movement's 18 seminaries are expanding rapidly as they seek to train more pastors, Compass said. The 13.3 million members of the church have barely 1,300 ordained pastors and seminaries can train only about 200 new pastors at a time. Seminaries can take only 20% of applicants because they don't have the resources to train all of them.

House churches also report a similar increase in young people and are often the beneficiaries when many tire of the official church. A Three Self pastor in Wuhan told the congregation of St. Michaels on December 5, "It used to be in this city that the Religious Affairs Bureau would say 'one more Christian, one less Chinese' but now they say, 'one more Christian, one less criminal'."We saw the Holy Spirit fall with great joy. This has swept many parts of China without any teaching from the West, but in many places has been a supernatural outpouring of the Spirit.

In Asia many Pentecostal denominations are trying to be more acceptable to the denominational church world through more emphasis on theological education and degrees than prayer, fasting and the power that comes from the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The opposite is true in China, for the house churches are more than ever turning to the Pentecostal roots of our faith.