Historic links with China
Pre 1951 the Church of Scotland had two mission bases – one on the Yangzi River at Yichang, and the major one in the city of Shenyang (Mukden) in Manchuria. In 1940, there were 94 Church of Scotland missionaries.
How is the church in China doing?
Protestant Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in contemporary China. In 1990 it was estimated that churches were opening at the rate of three every two days. In March 2010, the Bible Society reported 80,000 baptisms a year in one province.
In December 2011 it was estimated that Christians account for approximately 5% of China’s population of 1.3bn, ie about 67 million. Of these, roughly 9 million are Catholics.
Noting that trust in institutions, between individuals, between the generations, is breaking down, one of China’s most eminent philosophers of religion has said: “The worship of Mammon… has become many people’s life purpose. I think it is very natural that many other people will not be satisfied... will seek some meaning for their lives so that when Christianity falls into their lives, they will seize it very tightly.”
The Amity Foundation
It has sought to put into practice in Chinese society the Christian love which emboldened the church leadership, to create it just over 25 years ago. It seeks to be sensitive in its response to social needs as well as speaking out on behalf of those who are voiceless within society.
In 2010 the World Bank estimated that 150 million people (11%) still lived in absolute poverty in China (earning less than $1.25 a day).
Printing Press: Since 1987, working in cooperation with the United Bible Societies, and with the support of other international Christian organisations, the Amity Printing Company has become a major publisher of Bibles and other Christian literature in China. Over 100 million have been printed
Current links with China
· The World Mission Council has re-vitalised links with the Northeastern Seminary and Dongguan Church in Shenyang, which is now one of the largest in North East China with 30,000 members. Each Sunday, 10,000 people worship in four services and a further 1,000 at each of the weekday services, held from Tuesday to Friday. Over 16,000 people have been baptised at Dongguan since 1989.
· Violence against women is often near the surface. The World Mission Council will seek appropriate ways to engage partners in addressing violence against women and supporting full women’s participation.
- Boys’ Brigade In November 2011 The Boys’ Brigade World Mission Fund gave £10,000 for an Amity Foundation bio gas project. This provides families with equipment that generates methane gas from manure for heating, lighting and cooking. This simple project has transformed lives in Hunan Province.2 members of the Brigade visited Hunan Province and reported: “The ‘What a Gas’ project is an amazing system…. It has already made a tremendous difference to their life-styles.”
- HIV Through income from Souper Sunday, the Church of Scotland HIV Programme has supported an Amity Foundation project with people living with HIV. By working with village health workers and the local authorities in Yunnan, SW China, people who are HIV+ can receive loans of £300-£500. To date, 27 families have received loans and used them for a variety of agriculture related activities. The repayment rate is almost 100% and families report significant positive changes to their health, wellbeing, income and self-esteem. To participate in the scheme, individuals must be active members of a community self-help and support group, have clear needs, commit to taking antiretroviral (ARV) medicine properly, and demonstrate an ability to repay the loan.
One hundred million Bibles
"Like most Chinese people I was told we came into the world by accident. How could I find meaning in that?" These are the words of Jessie Liu, who lives in China and became a Christian. "I have found meaning in the Bible, the Word of God. It makes my eyes and soul light up. To me, life’s meaning comes from the Godly view of the origin of the universe and life. Now the uneasiness and worries in my heart are gone."
With 19% of the world’s population, China has one of the largest Bible printing presses in the world. This November, the Amity Printing Company based in Nanjing will produce their 100th million copy of the Bible with the approval of the Chinese Government. It is estimated that out of the 100 million copies, over 60 million would have been produced just for China alone. Join us in giving thanks to God for this achievement. Around 70% of Chinese Christians are from rural areas where the cost of a Bible is the equivalent of 30 eggs to a peasant. China is also seeing a new wave of young urbanites turning to the Bible for answers. Pray that the production of the Bible and distribution among Chinese people will continue to change lives.