The three-year-long pandemic restrictions were eventually over in 2022. As churches in China start to reopen in the new year, we recall the ten most-read stories of 2022.
These stories include the notorious scandal of a human trafficked woman, testimonies of a pastor and a ministry leader engaged in gospel-center drug rehabilitation ministry, and more tightened religious cyberspace.
In the following pages, we count the CCD’s 10 most-read news stories of 2022 from No. 1 to the last.
1. The chained mother of eight in Xuzhou draws Chinese Christians' attention.
An online video of a Chinese mother of eight outside in winter in China's Jiangsu Province caused massive outrage on the Internet. In the video released on January 28, a woman was chained to a hut in the cold weather near zero degrees Celsius, wearing only light clothes and speaking with a lisp.
The woman who was claimed to be a beggar on the streets in 1998, was trafficked from her hometown of Yagu Village in Fugong County in Yunnan Province to marry the then 30-something husband surnamed Dong in Fenghua County, according to local authorities.
Many Christians have commented on this controversial event. A believer found it inconceivable to realize such evil hidden near to his hometown. Another Christian commented human trafficking is a spiritual problem of the whole ethnic group and it could only be solved with the help of the church and Christians. A call to the church to speak out on the issue was issued.
2. Interview: the shortage of young church workers is much related to money
A young pastor bluntly claimed that the reason why churches in China are suffering from a serious shortage of young staff is related to money.
Pastor W said that many Chinese seminaries have had difficulty recruiting students in recent years. The direct reason is that no church is willing to recruit them after graduation. Another cause is that seminarians often talk fluently but they cannot practice what they say well.
But one important reason is that older workers are not well guaranteed in terms of retirement benefits. “For example, if a worker is on the job, he can get five or six thousand yuan every month, which is still much. But if he quits, he can only get about 1,000 yuan a month. Some churches do not pay pensions at all, and some pay very little. As a result, some of the older workers keep on working and are unwilling to retire.”
3. Pastor in eastern China: 'Christ in me is the real treasure'
With many years of experience in ministry, Pastor L shared his life-changing testimony of only caring about Jesus Christ.
Dreaming to build the largest church in China, he came to realize that it was actually his personal ambition in the name of doing a great job for God.
As the membership of his church had grown to more than 500 which falls far from the definition of a “megachurch”, he was not satisfied. He left the church for some reason and started a new one. However, no matter how hard he tried, the number could never exceed 500.
"Then I found a problem: once the church gets bigger, I want both my co-workers and other people who know me to be able to say that I am a big vessel and can build a megachurch. To some extent, I would like people to make such positive comments about me,” he confessed.
“The reason why we deteriorate after serving for some time is that we do not rely on Christ who is our rock.” But after reflection, he regards Christ inside him as the real treasure more than anything else in the world.
4. G.E.M. releases first MV ‘Gloria’ of new album Revelation.
Gloria Tang Tsz-kei, also known on stage as G.E.M., officially released the debut song "Gloria" of her new gospel-centered album Revelation, which opened the prelude to the series.
Christian singer-songwriter G.E.M.’s brand-new album of the musical series Revelation is based on the concept of the hereafter. The music video of the opening track "Gloria" reveals a totally different world of a mixture of fantasy and reality where the devout heart is strengthened despite the shattered hope.
The lyrics of her new song describe a girl named Gloria living in a dark world before dawn. Despite the difficult circumstances, she believes that there is no fear in love which constantly flows to overcome any other power. Full of ardent hope for the future, she can also sense God is willing to carry her burden, comfort her, and take her to flight at any time. She believes that His love can lift up a collapsing world and never leave her alone. With patience in her heart, she hopes that He who grants love will come back soon.
In the video, magnificent scenes reenacting the story of Moses splitting the Red Sea in the Book of Exodus clearly convey the Christian values of resolution and aspiration shown in "leaving Egypt". On the Road to the Red Sea, a door that contains only the light of truth stands to lead believers to love and eternity.
5. An EQ trainer helps single Christians and married couples.
As a lecturer who teaches others how to manage a happy life, Brother Zhao himself experienced a marital crisis. Through an emotional intelligence training program named “"Gaotai EQ"”, he eventually reconciled with his wife after a relationship full of tension.
Since his life has changed completely, Zhao hopes to introduce such a great course to people around him, so as to let them know that life is not all beer and skittles. Over the past decade or so, he has become increasingly involved in promoting the Gaotai EQ program.
There are six classes in the program, aiming to let students systematically learn to become a person who is good at communicating and loving.
6. The Museum of Bible exhibits never before seen artifacts of Watchman Nee in honor of the 50th anniversary of his martyrdom.
The Museum of the Bible opened its latest “Personal Stories” exhibit themed “Watchman Nee” on March 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Watchman Nee’s martyrdom.
According to the Museum of the Bible, the exhibit will run until February 2023. “It explores the life and legacy of Watchman Nee, including first-hand video accounts from his cellmate, photos, and personal letters.”
“This exhibit includes a biographical presentation of the incredible life of Watchman Nee — including never before seen artifacts — and shares the story of how he used the Bible to impact people around the world,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kloha, chief curatorial officer for Museum of the Bible.
Nee, who was imprisoned for the last twenty years of his life and died on May 30, 1972, founded the “Local Church” movement in China, the first native Christian movement in the country. Today, an estimated 3,000 churches outside of China follow his teachings.
In November, the "Symposium Series of Passing on the Torch of Learning- Watchman Nee Memorial Conference" was sponsored by the Journal of Research for Christianity in China online.
7. Religious cyberspace continues to shrink in China.
A Christian in China has been blocked from using an intelligent working platform for a year for “posting illegal religious content” there.
As the Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services came into force on March 1, Christianity-related websites, WeChat accounts, and group chats have seen severe censorship.
The WeChat account of the Social Service Department of CCC&TSPM, the Chinese government’s umbrella organizations for Protestant churches, became unnamed for some time.
8. What impact will bring to long time lockdowns on churches due to COVID-19?
When COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, people thought that the virus would naturally disappear like the SARS outbreak in 2003. COVID-19 didn’t disappear quickly as we wished, but has decreased. Through constant gene variations, it may keep bothering us for another couple of years or longer.
As the Chinese church went through lockdowns and reopening from time to time during the past three years, a freelance writer summarized the influence in three aspects.
First of all, the meeting mode would forcibly change from face to face to online which should never be a satisfactory replacement. He continued that all visitation ministry would come to a halt. What was worse, the church’s income would be drastically reduced, which might affect daily maintenance.
9. Former drug addict becomes wounded healer with gospel-centered rehab ministry.
More than 20 years ago, two brothers in a family in Guangdong Province were addicted to drugs. While the elder brother died of a drug overdose, the younger finally got rid of the addiction after going through eight rounds of rehabilitation programs through the gospel.
When he agreed to try the eighth time, he was treated by the workers as a human and burst into tears. Reading the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible, he repented before God and his heart was healed. He returned home to say sorry to those who had been cheated by him.
Determined to help more addicts like him, the brother received them at his own empty house. Starting from scratch, he and other ministry workers have formed a unique mode of gospel-centered drug rehabilitation in China. The approach is to exert influence life by life and the impact of service and example.
10. Panel: three IT technicians discuss how churches should respond to online challenges under the Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services
On March 1, 2022, the Administrative Measures for Internet Religious Information Services, officially came into effect. Three Christian professionals who have been engaged in IT technology for years had a technical dialogue about the Measures, offering how the churches should respond to the regulations.
Brother Xie stated that according to the regulations, religious information can be spread to the public with permission and the content must be religious. He concluded that the church needs its self-built platform to preach through the Internet.
Brother Hu explained that the church needs a license to build a self-built platform. The platform can provide church service reservations, church-attending statistics, and the spiritual progress of the congregation.
As technology staff, they are willing to help build churches’ own systems and develop their programs.