A Light Shining, Part 2: Christmas in a “Flat” China

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This is the second post in a three-part series from a Chinese pastor. We encourage you to continue reading Part 1 and Part 3 for his further reflections on the celebration of Christmas in China.

In 2005, Thomas Friedman published his book called The World Is Flat. A reviewer said, “What Friedman means by ‘flat’ is ‘connected’: the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet.”

People around the world are more connected now in this century than ever before. While most people in the world haven’t yet realized how flat the world is, people in China actually do live in a flat world. In China, the cities and villages are connected. For the past ten years the Chinese government has relocated more than 300 million people from the countryside to cities and the process is still going on. China’s cities are now connected to each other. The high-speed railway system and air transportation are so developed that people can easily travel to different cities within short periods of time. China and the world are connected; nearly 100 million Chinese visited other countries in 2013 alone.

While the economy is developing and people are traveling, the culture is changing, too. Traditional American fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, KFC, Subway, and Pizza Hut can be found in almost all major shopping centers and main streets in Chinese cities. More surprisingly, most people probably do not realize that Christmas is now one of the most celebrated holidays in communist China! Why? There are many reasons for this phenomenon. But, I will list the three most important ones.

First, Christmas is about commerce. Commercial activities reflect the changing value system among people in China. Before the economic reformation of the 1980s, money was not an idol among people. The traditional Chinese value system of family reputation, honesty, and honoring parents is cracking and money, power, and sex have become new idols for society. Growing incomes have provided vast potential opportunities to buy things. Companies won’t miss any opportunity to sell, especially during the Christmas sale. And how can you make a Christmas sale without building a Christmas culture?


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Second, Christmas is about joy. Chinese people love to get together to celebrate. Christmas brings a whole new set of celebrations. There is new music in the numerous Christmas songs and new ways to decorate buildings, houses, rooms, windows, and even cars. There are new fashions and Christmas clothing. And of course there is new food and the new symbols of Santa Claus and Snow White! Christmas is a new adventure for most Chinese. After secluding herself for more than forty years, now China wants to see the world. And Christmas brings a new joyful world to China.

Third, Christmas is about belief. Economic freedom is based on and developed from a belief. While communism believed in equal distribution, the planned economy was invented. The economic reformation in China is truly a reformation of belief: giving up communism and adopting capitalism. Christmas is a religious expression of the Christianity in which capitalism was rooted.

How about the “old generations,” “the unchangeable,” “the conservatives?” At the beginning many older generations of Chinese did not like Christmas so much, but they also have not minded standing in a long line in order to receive Christmas discounts or big Christmas sales. If you ask them if Christmas is a good holiday, they will happily tell you, “Yeah, saving money is always a good thing!” and, “Change is inevitable! Now we can change the world!”

Children like Christmas for just the opposite reason. Instead of saving money, they like to spend money for joy! For them, Christmas is another holiday to receive money, gifts, and delicious food. Who can resist such temptation? For the young generation, they don’t even really know what communism is. They enjoy the current freedom and are searching for the meaning of life. They know that life is not only about money; life is about joy and belief. For the lucky ones, life is about true belief that brings people to real heavenly joy!

Now there are approximately 100 million Christians in China. While non-Christians enjoy the Christmas sales, Christmas music, and Christmas food, Christians in China celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the true Savior, who suffered for the world and for the Chinese people. And it is for this Savior that the Chinese Christians have been suffering until now. Every year, every day, and every moment, more and more people are giving up their idols and becoming Christians! For Christians in China, Christmas is a sign of new belief and a victory of faith.

During the Christmas season, I have a prayer for my China. I ask you to join me in praying for the Chinese people.

Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for your faithfulness and your love for the Chinese people. We praise you for answering the prayers and dedicated work of your servants James Hudson Taylor, Lottie Moon, Charles Studd, Pearl Buck, David Howard Adeney, and many others. Today we have witnessed the fruits of their labors. We pray that your Gospel will change people’s hearts and bring salvation to people in China. We also pray that China will become a Christian nation in this world and Chinese believers will be your living vessel for advancing your kingdom by raising more faithful Christian families, by sending more missionaries to the whole world, and by releasing those in hunger and poverty in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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Further Reading

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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Give Up Revenge, Love Enemies
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Nanjing: Bringing the Gospel Into Life
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Nanjing: A Welcoming City of Newcomers
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Chongqing

Chongqing is a city located in southwestern China and is a major economic center in the region. The city is known for its spicy cuisine, especially its hot pot dishes, and is also famous for the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric dam. Chongqing is also home to several historic sites, including the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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