Chengdu: A Church Built on Prayer

Editor’s note: In 2019, we published this interview with a Chinese pastor. We are happy to re-publish it this July as we pray for the city of Chengdu. In this conversation, the pastor describes his city, and explains how prayer connects his young church with the global heritage of faith. Through prayer, he has fellowship with other believers, and encouragement on the sometimes lonely road of ministry. He also issues a stirring call to prayer, asking the Western church to pray for the church in China. We pray that this interview helps you come to know Chengdu, and moves your heart to pray for the city and its people.

This interview has been slightly edited and condensed from its original version.


Chengdu: Relaxed and Unique

CP: Can you briefly describe Chengdu?

Pastor: Chengdu is western China’s largest city. It is ancient, with a history of three to four thousand years. Among cities with more than a million people, it is arguably the world’s oldest.

Chengdu’s culture is unique, different from other Chinese cities. People enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and live comfortably. The weather is not particularly great. People believe heaven is closer to them, so they rarely look to faith for help.

Prayer is especially important to the Chinese church because we are spiritual infants.  The shorter the church’s history… the more we need the spiritual promises and supernatural guidance God grants through prayer.

Prayer’s Importance for the Young Church

CP: Why is prayer crucial to the Chinese church?

Pastor: God gives us prayer as a way to communicate with him. It is the most important way our eyes are drawn away from the visible world to God’s invisible kingdom. It is also the most important way we turn from seeking our own will to seeking God’s will.

But prayer is especially important to the Chinese church because we are spiritual infants.  The shorter the church’s history, the more rudimentary our relationship with God and our understanding of his word, the more we need the spiritual promises and supernatural guidance God grants through prayer.

The Chinese church does not have a long history; our spiritual maturity and grasp of God’s word are elementary. So, we especially need prayer. The greater the difficulties we face from our social environment, the greater need we have to pray.

CP: Have you experienced the Chinese church coming together to pray? 


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Pastor: There have been many such occasions: it has happened within a [single] church, and there are also times different churches gather in a city.

As society changes, church leaders from different areas have more opportunities to meet. These opportunities are especially cherished to us – perhaps unlike with Western churches – because it is not easy for us to be together.

When it happens, we see prayer that is of one heart and one mind.

CP: Can you describe how you feel when you experience prayer on such a large scale?

Pastor: First, through praying with others, I experience more deeply that God is present among his people, not only with me. Second, serving the Lord can be hard at times, especially in China. When one faces difficult, complicated social situations, it is easy to have Elijah’s attitude, feeling alone and wondering: “Am I the only one here fighting for the Lord?”

When people gather to pray, God takes away those feelings of loneliness and tragic heroism. Through his church, Christ’s visible body, he binds you with his grace. This is also the process of our being healed and forgiven.

Serving the Lord can be hard at times, especially in China…When people gather to pray, God takes away those feelings of loneliness and tragic heroism.

God of All Nations

CP: When you hear that American brothers and sisters are praying for the Chinese church, what are your feelings?

Pastor: Once, I met an official from the Bureau of Religious Affairs. He said to me the Chinese church had been growing too fast, whereas society and its policies changed slowly. “You should be patient,” he advised. I replied that we were able to be patient, because our church had been in existence for over two thousand years, while their government had only been around for a little more than half a century. I said, “We can wait another thousand years.”

My church has a short history. But when I know that Christians in America, in other countries, and in every part of the world are praying for us, I know we belong to a two-thousand-year-old church that reaches the ends of the earth. God is not only God of his people in this nation, but he is God from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. This gives us great comfort and encouragement.

CP: Do you have any suggestions how to pray for China?

Pastor: There are many things to pray for, but two come to mind as most important. First, the question of whether the Chinese church can continue to develop and grow. (This seems to be reality, since our church has been growing very fast. God has worked in amazing ways.)

Second, the question of whether the Chinese church can remain conservative and evangelical. As we grow and face the kinds of monumental changes God has orchestrated in Chinese society, can we fully trust biblical authority? As we continuously take in theological and biblical knowledge from the West, how will we face contemporary culture?

My church has a short history. But when I know that Christians in America, in other countries, and in every part of the world are praying for us, I know we belong to a two-thousand-year-old church that reaches the ends of the earth.

My utmost concern is whether, as the church grows, she can remain steadfast on the path of the cross. This path is characteristic of persecuted church theology. Not only does the Chinese church have to develop and grow, but she also needs to be faithful to God’s inerrant word.

In the final part of the interview, the pastor exhorts American believers to remember and lift up the church in China. Below is a video of that passionate and eloquent call to prayer.

 


Wang Jianguo is the collective pseudonym for a group of Chinese house church pastors thinking about writing about issues related to the spread of Christianity in their nation. They are committed to preaching a grace-centered gospel, developing resources for the church, and loving China’s urban centers.

Pray for believers in Chengdu to experience fellowship with global believers through prayer. Pray Chengdu Christians will know they are not alone, but that prayer brings them together with the Lord and with their fellow Christians.

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Further Reading

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Moses in the Wilderness: On the Run
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Chengdu: Relaxed, Comfortable, Leisurely
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Why Should I Love My Enemies?: Good News for Enemies of God
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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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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

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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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