Editor’s note: This month, CP has been praying for instruction. Many Chinese are concerned about instructing the next generation of believers to follow Christ. While these column is heavily focused on children’s educational issues, instruction is not merely for children. It is also a deep need for new and untaught believers, as well as those exploring the Christian faith. As you remember the Chinese church in prayer, please pray for all these types of instruction.
This month’s prayer topic, instruction, is particularly near my mother’s heart. Although I did not originally intend to homeschool and my kids started out in the local school, I have now been teaching them at home for several years. My family has been deeply blessed by the rhythms of this life, and the time to develop deeper relationships has changed our relational dynamics. I am grateful for God’s patient leading of our family.
When I hear from Chinese Christians, many are struggling with educational issues. Education is regularly at the top of the list of things Chinese Christians are concerned with. How will they raise the next generation to love and follow God when they face so many restrictions? Because I have experienced the stress of making hard decisions about my children’s education, I deeply sympathize with these believers who laboring to raise their children in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” When I hear of the troubles that so many parents are facing as they attempt to do this, my heart breaks.
This is a way to tighten the control of ideology and dictatorship over education. As long as there are people who want to be educated, it is up to the state to decide which kind of education they will receive.
The Chinese educational system is harsh, and many families – not just Christians – are frustrated with the high-pressure demands it places on young children (and their parents). In addition, the educational system explicitly teaches children, in Karl Marx’s words, that “religion is the opiate of the masses,” and is superstitious and backward. These things make it hard for many Chinese Christians to feel confident about placing their children in local public schools.
Yet there is not much space for them to make other choices. Those who opt out of public schools are unable to send their children to Chinese universities, and overseas college is generally quite expensive. Despite the obstacles, many Chinese have opted for Christian schools or even homeschool.
But in recent years, the Christian school movement has been heavily pressured. Recently, a teacher at a Chinese Christian schools told me the government is beginning to investigate all sorts of educational and training institutions, and is shutting down those that don’t meet standards. In that teacher’s opinion, “This is a way to tighten the control of ideology and dictatorship over education. As long as there are people who want to be educated, it is up to the state to decide which kind of education they will receive.” The educator went on to compare these educational requirements to demands that house churches register with the government and receive religious direction from secular officials.
The teacher I spoke with longs for their students to have quiet desks so they can study without fear and hiding. But at the same time, they are grateful for each day they have to spend with the children.
Churches regularly address the issue as well. A recent, fairly typical, prayer update from Early Rain Covenant Church included this specific request for Christian education: “Father God, please take care of the education of Christian children…In recent years, Christian education has been a key target of this atheistic regime. Many churches, Christian schools, and home education institutions have been persecuted. Many preachers, Christian teachers, and heads of institutions have been arrested. Many schools are suffering eviction and harassment. But in the midst of adversity, you have still determined that your people should teach their children according to the teachings of the Bible.”
Christian schools, like the one where the teacher mentioned above serves, are classified as illegal. In Chinese Christian circles, word of raids on other Christian schools is circulating. The teacher I spoke with longs for their students to have quiet desks so they can study without fear and hiding. But at the same time, they are grateful for each day they have to spend with the children. They said, “One of our teachers likes to count the days [we have managed to continue our school] – from the beginning to the present day. Of course, the purpose is not to finish the semester, but to count our graces, and learn to rely on God. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him.”
Father, you are using persecution to carry out Christian education, so that the cross of Christ is engraved on the hearts of every child. This is the essence of your education.
Although we long for ease and rage against oppression, God does not always smooth the path his children must walk. Somehow, he uses even injustice and difficulty to accomplish his purposes.
Another part of the Early Rain prayer request said: “Father, you are using persecution to carry out Christian education, so that the cross of Christ is engraved on the hearts of every child. This is the essence of your education.”
Would You Pray With Us Today?
E.F. Gregory is a mom of three. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley on the border of East Los Angeles, where her husband pastors a small PCA church.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Chinese believers trying to follow God as they educate and raise up a new generation of Christians.