November 11, 2007
The influential community within Beijing is a minority group that controls the majority of the power and is the primary force behind making decisions that influence millions of people. These political leaders, military officials, and prominent business people have little qualm in using their “guanxi” (connections, relationships) to influence others. Because Beijing is the capital of the world’s largest nation, the influential of this city compose some of the most powerful and prominent leaders in the world.
Riches, opulence, and power blind those in authority to their utter hopelessness and impotence. Meditate on Psalm 2 and pray against this arrogant spirit.
With an ever-growing opportunity for business and avenues for financial investment, the number of wealthy citizens within Beijing is on the rise. However, with the accumulation of money, materialism, greed, and secularism are on the increase as well. The growing minority of Rich within Beijing is constantly on the lookout for new ways in which to accumulate more wealth and to show off their new symbols of influence and power in attention grabbing ways. The Rich are also dabbing in what was once considered extravagant expenses, such as owning private cars and expensive electronics, as well as shopping at pricey shopping centers.
Education is vitally important to the people of China. The city of Beijing alone has hundreds of universities. The northwest corner of the city is commonly referred to as the “University District.” Yet with so many schools, it is still not nearly enough to accommodate the number of students who eagerly desire to attend university. A series of rigorous college entrance exams promotes some and disappoints others. But it is only the cream of the crop who are ultimately allowed to attend.
Many of the universities have primary and secondary schools affiliated with them. Because of the difficulty of entering university, even elementary school students are pushed to excel, often taking classes in math, science, or English on Saturdays and Sundays to increase their chances of scoring high on college entrance exams.
In a place where teachers are revered and students are hard-pressed and competitive, acquiring knowledge becomes the solitary aspiration and reason for living for all too many people in China.
Lifestyles of every color, flavor and walk of life roam the streets of Beijing’s 20 plus million people. With one sweeping glance of the city, the wealthy can be observed sporting their luxury cars and expensive homes, while close by the poor hopelessly peek around eroding doorways of their crumbling “hutongs” houses. Many work nine-to-five white collared jobs: secretaries, electricians, office personnel. Many more daily migrate from the countryside to sell their goods in small outdoor markets or work at one of the many construction sites in the fast-rising city of Beijing.
Muslims gather to attend daily mosque rituals; newspaper sellers call out for customers to buy hot-off-the-press happenings; old men congregate in parks to play Chinese chess; school children in matching uniforms weave their bicycles through traffic on their way to school; business men and women hurriedly march across busy intersections talking loudly on their cell phones; taxi drivers honk their horns in frustration at yet another traffic jam; black market traders meet in darkened alleys, along with the underworld of drug sellers and users; corrupt CEO’s, depressed alcoholics, prostitutes, beggars and homeless, the many lifestyles of Beijingers desperately needing to know there is a Savior.
Since the law was passed in the 1980’s, the One-Child Policy has been strictly enforced throughout China in order to control the growing population. Most Chinese place no special value on individual lives. Many from leadership positions down to the common people claim, “China has too many people,” conveying the message to the public that people are expendable.
Abortion has become one of the most prominent methods of birth control. Many Chinese still hold onto the old belief that boys are more valuable than girls; as a result, many baby girls are aborted, abandoned in trash cans, dark alleys, open fields or, if is given the chance to live, badly neglected by families bitter about a girl births.
After a woman has one child, many hospitals administer automatic sterilization without the consent of the patient. Women throughout China silently and bitterly grieve over their losses.
Many university students in Beijing, when asked their beliefs, will reply that they believe in themselves. This idea of believing in self above all else is one of the tenants of atheism and in China is taught to children beginning in primary school. They are taught that life came about through evolution, that there is no God, and they must believe only in themselves in order to succeed.
The source of atheism in China is the Communist Party. Not only are children indoctrinated, but also anyone who wishes to be a member of the Party must claim to be an atheist. This is significant because membership in the Party brings with it more opportunities for success and exclusion brings with it severe limitations.
Those who profess that they are Christians cannot be part of the Communist Party. Because they cannot be a part of the Party, they are also prevented from serving in the government, in many teaching positions, and are allowed few opportunities for promotion. Though the Communist Party says that they tolerate religions, this is one indirect way of persecuting believers.
The good news is that though atheism claims that there is no God, years of atheism in China have actually created a spiritual vacuum. Not only are members of the Communist Party beginning to turn to Christ, but also more and more people are beginning to see the emptiness of atheism.
At 1,268 feet high, the CCTV Tower, China’s official state-run television corporation broadcasting center, stands as the highest point in Beijing and overlooks the expanse of the massive city. Beginning construction in 1987 and finishing in 1992, the tower is a much-frequented site for tourists because of its breathtaking bird’s eye view of the city. The CCTV tower also offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the many broadcasting avenues available through the CCTV services. Offering a wide variety of twenty-four hour programming, CCTV attracts cable subscribers from among 93% of the Chinese population and reaches households throughout China and around the world, including the United States.
In 1958, CCTV first began broadcasting all over China and is now regularly watched by over 900 million viewers. With twelve channels, this state-run media offers a wide range of programming topics such as sports, news, economics, and education. Impressively, CCTV offers twenty-four different news channels and is by far the most popular news source for Chinese citizens. CCTV is closely monitored by the governments State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), therefore leaving room for questions regarding the issue of bias.
China World Trade Center
The China World Trade Center Complex lies in the center of Beijing’s international community and includes upscale shopping, Western style restaurants, business offices, and some of the most expensive, plush apartments in Beijing. Large numbers of people in Beijing have experienced a dramatic rise in their standard of living during the past ten years and have increasingly become more materialistic in their thinking and daily lifestyles.
When Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen on October 1, 1949, there were over eighty protestant churches in Beijing, compared to eight official churches today. The 1950’s witnessed the start of the policy of suppressing the Protestant Church by use of the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) Beijing was at the center of one of the most terrible persecution movements in history as Christians and others were terrorized by Mao’s Red Guards. During this time all Protestant and Catholic churches were closed in Beijing. It was not until 1979 that Chinese Christians were again allowed to attend only the “official” government sanctioned churches.
Today, only five small Protestant TSPM churches have been approved by the government for local Chinese to attend, vastly failing to satisfy the spiritual needs of Beijing’s 20 plus million. TSPM Protestant churches are tucked away in hard to find places throughout the city. Leaders within these churches are not allowed to preach about the 2nd coming of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the Great Commission.
There are three styles of worship in the Protestant community in Beijing:
1) TSPM government controlled churches,
2) Government approved churches for foreigner passport holders only,
3) Illegal underground House churches, illegal meetings in individual’s homes or work places.
Church of St. Joseph/Dongtang Cathedral (service in Chinese and Latin)
Embassy of Chile (service in Spanish)
German Embassy (service in German)
Nangangzi Church (service in Chinese)
Philippine Embassy (service in English)
St. Mary Church/Nantang Cathedral (Latin, Chinese, English)
St. Michael’s Church/Dongjiaominxiang Cathedral (Korean, Latin, Chinese)
St. Resurrection Jesus Church/Beitang Cathedral (Chinese)
PROTESTANT AND INTERDENOMINATIONAL
Beijing Baptist Church Independent (Service in English) Ex-pats only
Beijing International Christian Fellowship (Service in English, over 65 different countries represented) Ex-pats only
Church of the Good Shepherd (Service in English) Ex-pats only
Gangwashi Protestant Church TSPM (Chinese, Korean)
German Embassy (German)
Haidian Protestant Church TSPM (Chinese with English translation)
Kuanjie Protestant Church TSPM (Chinese)
Protestant Asbury Church/Chongwenmen
Protestant Church TSPM (Chinese)
Zhushikou Protestant Church TSPM (Chinese)
(This list does not include the numerous Korean Churches in Beijing)
Cults and other Religions
Though the government in Beijing is officially atheist, religious conditions in China have improved some since the late 1970’s. Religious organizations of any kind still must register with the government and all activity is closely monitored. However, more and more people from many different religions are beginning to take part in religious activities again. Of those religions, Buddhism is the most popular, practiced by many people in Beijing and throughout all of China.
Buddhism has been present in China for about two thousand years. During the Cultural Revolution many Buddhist temples were destroyed and people were no longer allowed to worship. Today, though, many temples have been rebuilt and are filling up with worshippers. It is estimated that as many as 300 million people in China in some way adhere to Buddhist beliefs. The most famous Buddhist temple in Beijing is the Lhama Temple.
Also prevalent in China are Confucianism and Taoism. Though one form of Taoism involves the worship of gods and deities, both Taoism and Confucianism focus more on an ethical system rather than the worship of any specific deities. Taoism began in China around the 6th century B.C. and was founded by Lao-tzu. The purpose of Taoism is to teach the individual how to have inner peace and harmony. In Taoism, the way of achieving this harmony is by accepting “the way.”
While Taoism focuses on inner peace, Confucianism teaches the proper way for individuals to relate to one another and conduct themselves in society. According to its founder, Confucius, harmony within a society comes from meeting obligations within relationships. Though Confucianism is not a religion in the sense that a deity is worshipped, the ideas that come from Confucianism have had a tremendous impact on China over the centuries. Today those ideas still influence the Chinese’ worldview.
The majority of followers of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism are Han Chinese. There are also several other religions that are practiced more among minority groups. Shamanism, which may incorporate some aspects of Taoism and Buddhism, also focuses on ancestral worship. In addition to Shamanism, many minority groups such as Hui, Uygur, and Salar, are Muslim. Though the majority of Muslims are in Western China, Beijing has 200,000 Muslims.
Apart from the many religions in China there are also cults that are beginning to emerge. For example, one group called “Eastern Lightning” claims that Jesus has already returned in the form of a woman born in Central China. This growing group is very active in seeking to turn people from Christ to its teachings.
The Lhama Temple, also known as Yong He Gong, is the largest Tibetan Buddhist Lhama Temple in Beijing. It was first built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty. Today, people still come to offer incense to the idols inside. It is representative of the general resistance and rocky soil that the Gospel has often encountered in Beijing. Located in the Dong Cheng District, beside the subway stop “Yong He Gong” entrance is south of the subway stop.
“Modern Beijing” rapidly emerges; visitors and tourists stand in awe at the rate of economic growth in this city. Beijingers today are confronted with the glitter of materialism and the comforts that capitalism promises to offer. Making money has become the sole desire of most people. The window of opportunity for reaching the masses is closing quickly as people have less time and patience for spiritual things.
The impressive skyline of modern skyscrapers reflect Beijing’s quest for greatness and economic prosperity. At imposing gates of many big beautiful apartment buildings stand as a threshold into a world largely untouched by those living in simple dwellings right across the street. Many dream of new international fashions, swanky cars, and everything capitalism has to offer, but few can afford it. The growing gap between rich and poor people is one of China’s most pressing problems today.
In Beijing–the capital of pearls–many young Chinese women seek after beauty and elegance at all costs.
A common morning site all over Beijing is the daily ritual of private drivers washing and cleaning the vehicles of the wealthy in front of the apartment buildings. A luxury vehicle is a status symbol in Beijing; a private chauffeur even more so.
Young security guards are in place at luxury residential complexes, restaurants, and shopping malls. Their wages are small, and they are faithful to their post in the blistering heat of summer and the piercing cold of winter winds. Many are young men aspiring to jobs offering more fulfillment’s, but it is they who guard the entrances of prestigious gathering points.
Media is an ever-increasing outlet of information within Beijing. With the growing widespread usage of the internet along with television, newspapers, radio, and other such venues, information is becoming that much more difficult to control, but increasingly more powerful in its ability to get information “out there” quickly and efficiently.
Monument to the People’s Heroes
The Monument to the People’s Heroes is located at the center of Tiananmen Square. Completed in 1958, the monument was built to commemorate the heroes who died fighting for a new China. The monument is divided into ten panels that describe significant events in China’s history dating back to the Opium War’s of the nineteenth century. The words of China’s former leader Mao Zedong are on the Northern side. It reads: “The Heroes of the People are immortal!” Ten thousand Chinese including peasants, soldiers, and factory workers were consulted to ensure the words etched into this monument would be comprehensible to all. This monument is dedicated to the accomplishments of man as the maker of his destiny. The people of China need to hear the truth of God’s word and understand that God is in control of all nations destinies.
Today, Beijing has around 250,000 Muslim believers, much of them are of the Hui minority. The Hui (pronounced “way”) are the largest Muslim minority group in China. The two largest, most frequented Muslim Mosques in Beijing are Niujie (Ox Street) Mosque and Dongsi Mosque, east of Prospect Hill. Niujie Mosque was originally built in 996AD during the Liao Dynasty and later turned into a mosque in 1474 during the Ming Dynasty. Niujie Mosque Niujie Libai Si; located in the Xuanwu District off of Niujie Street south of Guanganmen Nei Dajie.
Many of the Hui live in the Xuanwu District near Niujie. Hui men come to the mosques daily to remove their shoes, bend their knees, and turn their faces toward Mecca. Chants and prayers from the Koran waft the air at least three times a day. Pray that out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind would see that Jesus Christ is the only way, truth and life.
Religious Affairs Bureau
The Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) is the branch of the government that directly controls religious meetings and organizations within the city and decides what religious organizations can and cannot meet within the city. Although Christianity is not considered illegal within the country, the RAB does not agree with several aspects of Christianity, evangelism being its primary disturbance, and seeks to tightly control, monitor and report to the government all that is going on within organized religious meetings. Communist party membership and atheistic beliefs are necessary prerequisites for RAB personnel.
Pray that the RAB personnel might become disillusioned with communism and the empty promises of the government. Pray that, until Father chooses to change the situation, the RAB would turn a blind eye on Great Commission work done within Christian group meetings. Pray that Father’s Spirit would reach into the blinded hearts of the men and women who work for the RAB.
Sanlitun also called “Juiba Jie” or “Bar Street” is the center of nightlife for much of the international community of Beijing. Countless bars, small restaurants of every international flavor, eclectic shops and rowdy nightclubs lie tucked away among the small avenues of the Sanlitun embassy district. However, expatriates are not the only ones who frequent these establishments; its worldly appeal has lured many young, successful Chinese into the entrapment’s of momentary pleasures, as they search for ways to spend their newly earned cash and escape their empty, troubled lives.
Across the globe, sports bring people together like nothing else. It doesn’t matter if you are in Bombay, India; Los Angeles, California; or Beijing, China. Everyone speaks the same language when playing sports. Grimaces, grunts, shouts, cheers, and smiles speak volumes when games are on the line or a win is just in reach. The thrill of victory and the breathtaking blow of defeat are feelings that sports enthusiasts know well. Bringing people together as almost nothing else does, the “sports community” often offers an immediate sense of family and friendship. It is this bond that can allow Jesus’ name to be rapidly spread among the top level athletes of the nation as well as the everyday sports enthusiasts who love their game for competition or relaxation.
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven, completed as early as 1420, majestically overlooks the southern part of Beijing. It represents part of the very best of ancient China’s heritage. At the same time, it symbolizes the prayer of those with God’s heart for the most densely populated nation on earth. Referred to in Chinese as “Tiantan” (pronounced TEE-en-tawn), this magnificent complex includes an extensive park as well as many different halls constituting the temple grounds.
What makes this such a rich part of China’s spiritual heritage?
First of all, in ancient China, the emperor was referred to as the “Son of Heaven.” It was his role to represent Heaven’s authority on earth and to rule as such. This temple was the expression of that commitment to show proper respect for Heaven. In fact, it was actually built to offer sacrifices to Heaven and prayers for good harvests. In short, the Chinese revered the One, True, Living God and the emperor would ask His blessing on the harvests of the people. Although they did not know the name of Jesus, they did recognize the existence and power of the One True God in Heaven.
Since architecture is an important expression of the Chinese thought, an understanding of the layout of the temple helps one to appreciate the attitude and purpose of its construction. Since Heaven is often depicted as round and earth as square, it is no surprise that the upper northern half is circular and the southern half is square.
In the early morning, countless Chinese flock to the grounds to take advantage of the beautiful environment and shade of the trees. They come to do ballroom dancing or practice their martial arts. Many enjoy the calm to do their various exercises. Women gather to sew and men gather to play games. In short, it is the average Beijing citizen who still comes on a regular basis to the Temple of Heaven. It is the best of local culture expressing itself in simplicity at the very place where the emperor offered prayers for the nation.
The Worker’s Stadium is one of the most prominent stadiums in China and houses several sporting events, concerts (both local and international bands), and other entertainment-type gatherings throughout the year. It can seat tens of thousands of people and is one of the primary venues for amusement within Beijing.