Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic City in Midst of Revival?

By George Thomas
CBN News
August 8, 2008


CBNNews.com - BEIJING - Seven days a week, the machines at the Nanjing Amity Printing Company churn out copies of what some claim is one of China's best-selling books - the Bible.

Forty-three million Bibles have been printed legally in Communist China since 1987. Once a banned book, today some 3 million copies are printed and distributed each year across the country.

And this year, Chinese Christian leaders are hoping to print a special edition of the Bible to make available to the hundreds of thousands of athletes and visitors expected to attend next year's Olympic Games.

Dr. Cao Shengjie of China Christian council oversees the printing of Bibles in China. He said, "And so for this very important occasion, we hope we can print a special edition, maybe the four Gospels in English and Chinese, bilingual."

Lui Bainian, a top leader of China's officially sanctioned Catholic organization, wants to take it a step further and place these Bibles in some of the major hotels in Beijing.

"I want our visitors to know that we have religious freedom here and this is a small step to meet their religious needs during the Olympic," Bainian said.

The Chinese capital has hundreds of hotels. One of the biggest in town, the Minzu hotel, is entertaining the idea of making the Bibles available to Olympic guests.

"We are doing our preparations and once we know where our guests are coming from, we will be ready to meet their spiritual needs," Minzu Hotel General Manager Chen Guoyao said.

The Beijing Olympic Committee is also getting religious. It plans to provide Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim services.

"I think the needs of various religious groups will be taken into consideration and as a matter of fact, for example, inside the Olympic Village, we are going to set up a religious service center," Sun Weide, deputy director of communications for the Beijing Olympic committee said.

Shengjie says it is important for people outside of China, especially Christians, to know the real situation of Christianity in China.

"I think the Olympics is a good opportunity because so many people will come from all over the world. And so they can come and see with their own eyes," he said.

And what they will see is a China that's experiencing unprecedented religious fervor. When athletes and visitors arrive in Beijing next year for the Olympic Games, they will find a city and a nation in the middle of what some are calling a spiritual awakening.

Despite the government's official doctrine of atheism, millions of Chinese are turning to religion.

And as Pat Robertson says, "It's not China our enemy, it's China our friend." Watch the video above for the complete report followed by Robertson's prayer for China.

"People now feel more freer, more open to express their religious convictions," said Tong Shijun, professor of philosophy at East China Normal University.

Tong Shijun teaches at a prominent university in Shanghai. He's just completed the first major survey on religious beliefs in China. And according to his findings, 31.4 percent of those surveyed said they were religious - putting the number of believers in China at about 300 million.

"The increase of the number and the increase of the percentage was quiet large," Shijun said. "Quite dramatic."

Christianity is also growing fast. Twelve percent, or 40 million people, described themselves in the poll as followers of Christianity, much higher than official figures given by the Chinese government.

What is fueling these conversions? Chinese experts say that a growing number of people are turning to religion to better cope with the country's rapid social and economic changes.

Molly Fung works in Beijing's financial district. She recently started going to church. She said she wanted God to give her strength to deal with the pressures of life.

"I think that when I am stronger, I can help others, my friends and my family and tell them how to deal with the pressures," she said.

He Hong is an economics student in Shanghai who recently spent an afternoon at a local Christian bookstore.

"Today in our country, more and more people, especially the young people have a yearning for spirituality" Hong, a Shanghai university student, explained. "So many of my friends feel empty in their hearts. We feel so much pressure to get a job, have a better education."

According to Shengjie, so many of them are turning up at church looking for answers.

"People can easily think that to have a better living and to earn more money is the goal of life but the church, we will tell people that the man does not live by bread alone, we need the Word of God," Shengjie said.

Buddhism, Taoism, and other religions are also experiencing growth. Shijun believes that the government is starting to recognize the role religion could play in society.

"In the last couple of decades the situation is that religious life is recognized to have a positive role in society, generally speaking, as long as these religious groups abide by the national and local laws," he said.

Strict limitations on religion remain, however. For example, China only recognizes government registered churches and considers unregistered house churches illegal.

Still Chinese Christian leaders hope next year's Olympic Games will be an opportunity to showcase China's diverse and growing religious tapestry.

"Our expectation is to have more friendship and fellowship," Shengjie said.

*Original broadcast August 18, 2007.
from: CBN News

Also see: China Publishing Bibles

4 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

Good research. My latest deals with stats as well.

Russ:)

Jeff said...

Thanks, Russ, and I hope you feel better soon.

USpace said...

.
It's good to see more Chinese as Christians, thank God they're not getting sucked into Islam. Great piece, thinking about China being given the Olympics really is maddening. At least more people will be talking sooner rather than later about how there are really two very different Chinas in one.
Maybe in the future it will be in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.
.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
just host sporting events

communists must always seek
planetary approval

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
corrupt governments

denying outside help
with tragic avalanche

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
capitalism's faults

but prefers communism
with its many miseries

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never admit mistakes

cling to false ideologies
brainwash your countrymen

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
cause food shortages

implement price controls
destroy all family farms

.
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there can be no real freedom.
.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
.
Help Halt Terrorism Today!
.
USpace

:)
.

Jeff said...

USSpace,

Thanks for you comment.

That "Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon" made some good points. Many countries are denying the freedom to individuals that the Flash animation was talking about.

I am thankful that I live in a country where I have so much freedom.
“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [Patrick Henry, May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses]

One thing the animation said was "You own your life. To deny this is to imply that another person has a higher claim in your life than you do." For the born-again (regenerated) Christian, Christ Jesus owns their life, and that Christian rejoices in the fact that Jesus has a higher claim on their life than they do.

Regarding self-ownership, Jesus said that we are to die to self.
"He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." (Matt. 10:39)

All human beings are sinners, and none has the right to rule over your life. Even priests or Pastors have no right to run your life like you are their puppet.

However, Jesus is God the Son, Who created us and the universe, and He does have the right to rule and reign over our lives.

The United States is, IMO, the best country to live in. However, I believe it is becoming more and more corrupted, and is becoming less and less a great nation, in direct correlation with the degree to which it is, more and more, turning away from God.
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --John Adams, October 11, 1798

That Flash animation mentioned 'murder' and 'stealing.' Both are addressed in the Ten Commandments.
“The Law given from Sinai [The Ten Commandments] was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code.”
John Quincy Adams. Letters to his son. p. 61


“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

“Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.” (Thomas Jefferson)