Church in China experiencing 'tremendous' growth

The church in China is experiencing tremendous growth like never before, says the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Mathews George Chunakara, Director of WCC's International Affairs and Public Witness, said there had been a "unique and explosive growth" of Christianity among the Chinese people.

"I have been visiting China for the last 15 years. I am astounded to see the tremendous growth there. Their worship places are now overflowing," Chunakara told Christian Today.

"It is not just the poor you see in churches, even the rich and educated are embracing Christianity. Beijing and Shanghai are the proof,” he added.

The ecumenical leader compared freedom of religion in the country now to a decade ago, when the church kept a tight grip on the goings on in churches. He said the situation had "much improved" and that the government was now starting to "favour" religious people.

In the early 1970s, there were an estimated 3 million Christians in China. Now, the number may be as high as 130 million. However, the government continues to keep a close eye on the activities of officials churches and there has been sporadic persecution against Christians belonging to unofficial house churches.

"The Chinese government will not raid unless provoked. Now being the fastest growing economy, they know the importance of a harmonious society. To promote such a society, they are giving religion a special role," says Chunakara.

For instance, the Communist Government amended the Constitution two years ago to accommodate the role of religion.

"You could not expect such a thing to happen 15 years ago," Chunakara said.

“Not only China, in many Asian countries the church is expanding. More people are coming to God. In addition, the participation of young people is absolutely remarkable in comparison with those in West. There is genuine spiritual eagerness among the grassroot level people,” said Chunakara.

He says God is using the foolish to shame the wise. "While Christianity is dying in the West, God is bringing a spiritual awakening in third world countries like India and China."