It’s no secret that Chinese Christians have seen tightening restrictions and increased pressure against the Church. Some of these restrictions focus on young people and their interaction with the Church.
According to Erik Burklin of China Partner, “One of the rules that have always been in their law is that you cannot proselytize or you cannot convert somebody under the age of 18.” Although the law already existed, it has now been more intensively enforced.
Before the law was enforced, “People were having their children come to church and many churches started what we would call Sunday school classes,” Burklin says. “They would use that time to teach children Bible verses and teach them Christian songs and so forth.”
Now, however, “Many churches have been notified by Religious Affairs Bureau heads that you can no longer conduct Sunday school classes in your churches. They even put signage up in the entrance of some churches to indicate that.”
For China Partner, this is problematic. After all, their YouthServe ministry initiative trains “church leaders to conduct youth ministry sessions for teenagers for anywhere between the age of 13 to 18 before they go on to university,” Burklin says.
As they were conducting youth ministry training in China during a recent trip, they were approached by pastors they had worked with for years. “They specifically came back to us saying, ‘Please, we can no longer invite you to come and do these youth ministry trainings for us because we need to adhere to this new enforcement of this law,’” Burklin reports.
In order to respect and protect their local partners, China Partner has decided to discontinue their YouthServe initiative. Burklin says it may return in the future, but for now, it’s in the best interest of their partners if they close it down.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Alex Anhalt