Pressure Points

We have seen that traditional Chinese culture contains many “hints and shadows” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now let us look at ways in which modern Chinese society prepares the way for the light, life, and love of God as expressed in the Good News. I shall call these “pressure points.”

First and foremost, the breakdown of the family inflicts piercing and permanent pain upon untold millions. Divorce rates have skyrocketed, as adultery and busy-ness have stretched couples beyond their limited capacity to love.

Older folks often feel abandoned by busy offspring. Children are neglected by two-job (and often divorced) parents, and pressured to perform academically in a system that produces lonely, tired, unhealthy, and frustrated youth.

Pervasive pre-marital promiscuity has left young people with shattered dreams, jaded consciences, broken hearts, and STDs.

Where can real love be found?

The mad rush to get rich – or just to survive – has created a life of long hours, constant pressure to perform, intense competition, rapid turnover, sometimes awful living conditions, and – for millions of workers – withheld wages.

What is the meaning of this retrace? Where can security be found?

Massive migration to towns and cities has emptied villages of all but the very old, the very young, and the women who must bear the burden of their care.

Newcomers to urban centers find themselves struggling to make a living in an unfamiliar environment. Lacking access to education, health care, or basic legal rights, they have to fend for themselves in a cutthroat world.

Does anyone care? Is there no place to call home?

Fatigue, lack of nutrition, stress, and a highly degraded environment have produced a very unhealthy population, afflicted with cancer, respiratory illnesses, heart disease, cancer, and host of lesser ailments.

Lack of medical insurance and rising costs have bankrupted countless families, while a few well-to-do urbanites pay high prices for modern health care.

Where can one find strength and healing?

Endemic, ubiquitous corruption at all levels, not to mention widespread exploitation by employers, has injected the poison of resentment and rage into the hearts of countless Chinese. Sometimes it explodes in violent demonstrations – 87,000 of them in 2005 alone.

How can one find the freedom to forgive?

Addictions - to sex, drugs, nicotine, entertainment, video games, Internet pornography – have enslaved masses and robbed them of the ability to live, to love, and to work.

Can these chains be broken?

Meanwhile, traditional religions have made a huge comeback, often fueled by funds from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South East Asia. The old gods have new adherents in a land where atheism still claims official sanction, but where hungry hearts seek meaning and hope from the spirit world.

These idols have never satisfied the soul, but they can blind one to the truth of God and ensnare worshipers in deadening darkness.

Who will tell them of the one true and living God, who alone gives life, and light?

Running throughout Chinese society as an undercurrent that finds voice in story (like the Nobel prize-winning Soul Mountain), song, film, and desperate searches for reality, is a profound crisis of faith.

Is there any real meaning to life? If so, where can it be found?

In all we do, Christians should seek to speak to the hearts and minds of those who are trapped in darkness and despair. We try to be attentive listeners, and to weep with those who weep. Knowing the folly of seeking to answer a matter before we have heard it fully, we aim to understand the assumptions and aspirations of today’s Chinese, and to hear their heartfelt cries.

After we have gained their trust, we find that they ask us questions, and sometimes eagerly attend to our answers.

Christians can live lives of beauty and of love, marked by peace and joy. Those of us who are married will place a high premium upon family life, which has often prompted the question, “Why is your home so different?”

We also take every opportunity to share the Good News of Christ.