China (MNN) — China has a new hand at the helm. Along with him, there's a new generation of top Chinese leaders as the power transition began with the Central Committee of the Communist Party's 18th National Congress this week.
On Thursday, Xi Jinping was sworn in as general secretary. He'll head up the seven-seat Political Bureau Standing Committee, elected at the first meeting of Congress. His motto is reportedly, "Do it now," and he's promised to tackle the corruption so infamous to the government.
Other than that, though, little is known about him. He's untried and has given little hint of any changes he might make.
Actually, says Erik Burklin with China Partner, that could be a good thing for Christians. "They have actually lived out that verse very personally even during the Cultural Revolution. During those days, it was very tough to be a Christian. Today, they experience what they call ‘relative freedom.'"
Burklin says China Partner was in Hubei Province with a pastoral training session and ran into no hiccups that would give any indication of a new administration. No change in course for the world's most populous country means the window of opportunity stays open. "I was just so thrilled to see the younger emerging Christian leaders who were there very fervently and very excitedly receiving the training. Those are the people we need to pray for because they're going to be the future leaders and also the future Church leaders."
That's not to say it will always be smooth sailing for believers. "The first thing that I know the Chinese Christian leaders and the churches are already doing is praying for [Xi Jinping] and praying for the party members. It was not only Mr. Xi that was elected from the party to become the new president, it was a whole slew of high dignitaries who came into power during the 18th Party Congress."
Optimism is mixed with caution, Burklin goes on to say. China, especially Chinese Christians, have already been through a lot. That kind of weathering brings experience, both good and bad. "Overall, I would have to say that it's kind of a ‘wait and see' attitude. I think a lot of Christians are kind of going along with what they know they can do. Many of them are much more concerned about reaching their people in their areas for Jesus Christ than they are about who sits in power."
In the meantime, Burklin notes, training will continue. The believers with whom they are working are confident because "they know whose they are. They understand that this place is not their true home and that they're looking forward to going to heaven and being with Jesus someday. This is kind ‘business as usual' for them."
Burklin is urging prayer for the new government in China, that the way will stay open for the Gospel. Even if there are surprises, Burklin says Chinese Christians have a steady course to follow and an anchor for the storms. "Pray for the Church to stay fervent, to stay strong, that it would just stay walking a straight path."
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