The Forbidden City.  The Summer Palace.  The Great Wall.  The Terra-cotta Warriors.  These are all wonders that I have read about, watched on NatGeo specials, but last month I was able to visit China and see these spectacular sites in person!  They were breathtaking!  The engineering, beauty, and sheer magnitude of these projects speak to a driven and industrious people!

    And, the people are everywhere!  The streets of Beijing are the most crowded I have ever seen; a constant honking of horns, bumper to bumper traffic, and streets where yielding to pedestrians does not exist.  And thousands of people are walking. Everywhere. High-rise after high-rise apartment line the smog-filled sky and go on and on for miles…so many people…

    I asked our guide at the most famous Buddhist temple about China’s religious make up. He said about 3% nationwide practice any faith; 1% are Buddhist but that the largest and fastest growing faith group among the younger population and in the cities is Christianity!  The vast majority, 97% he said, have no faith and follow no teaching about God; family is the overarching value, but not faith.

    When viewing the city and the busy, hurried, seemingly unhappy masses, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus looking at Jerusalem: As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it…(Luke 19:41) When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).      

    The church in China is persecuted by the State. The highlyregulated internet functions like a modern day electronic Great Wall, shielding the population from outside influences. Many are displaced to make space for the growing industrialization of the country.  The gulf between the few rich and many poor is staggering.  China needs Jesus!  Please join me in prayer for the people who are in great need of the Good Shepherd.

Frank Vitale