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GUANGDONG

Pronunciation: gwahng-dong
Meaning: Eastern Expanse
Population: 86,420,000
Protestant Population: 690,000 (0.8%)
House Church Activity Level: High
Official Bible Schools: 1

GATEWAY CITIES

Guangzhou: Pop. 3,901,840
Shaoguan: Pop. 473,817
Zhenjiang: Pop. 1,246,281
Zhuhai Pop. 367,960

Photo 1. 5 American Presbyterian missionaries were martyred and this church building was destroyed during a riot in Lianzhou on October 28, 1905. Those martyred were Mrs. Edward (Ella Wood) Machle and her daughter Amy, age 11, Dr. Eleanor Chesnut, and Rev. and Mrs. John R. (Rebecca Gillespie) Peale.

Photo 2. Mr. and Mrs. Elijah C. Bridgman were the first American Protestant missionaries to China. They arrived in Guangzhou in 1830 and served with the Congregationalist American Board. They later served in Macau and Shanghai.

KEY PRAYER POINTS
1. Pray for strength for Pastor Lin Xiangao and other Christians whose faith does not allow them to accept what they believe to be unbiblical interference in their churches.
2. Pray against the power of materialism over believers and non-believers in rich areas like Guangzhou. At least one church leader was fired after embezzling funds contributed by Christians from Hong Kong.
3. Pray for Guangzhou Christians to reach out to those left out of the growing but unequal prosperity in China.

General situation. Guangdong includes the rich Pearl River Delta, but over half its area is mountainous. Guangzhou City (Canton) has been the Gateway City for foreigners to enter China for hundreds of years. The majority of Overseas Chinese come from Guangdong, and business investments from Hong Kong and other areas have helped make this one of China’s richest and fastest growing areas. From 1990 to 2000, Guangdong’s population grew by over 24 million people (39%), while most of the surrounding provinces reported population declines.
In the mid-19th century, Guangdong gave birth to one of the most destructive cults in China’s history. Hong Xiuchuan, a Hakka from Guangdong, professed to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ. As is often the practice of cultists, Hong re-wrote sections of the Bible to reflect his peculiar beliefs. At the start Hong instituted important social and moral reforms, forbidding gambling, opium, alcohol, polygamy and foot binding. Later Hong and his inner group grew increasingly autocratic and immoral, and by the time his Taiping Rebellion was suppressed by the Qing Dynasty with Western help, more than 20 million Chinese had died. The impact of such movements in Chinese history partly explains the way that the government has dealt with Li Hongzhi and his Falungong movement in recent years.

Provincial Church History. Pioneer Roman Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci came to Guangdong Province in 1583. He and other Jesuits won the respect of China’s rulers with their skills in mathematics and astronomy and with their willingness to wear Chinese dress and adapt to the culture. The first Protestant missionary to China, Robert Morrison, arrived in Guangzhou on September 7, 1807, and divided his time between Guangzhou and Macau (see September profile).
By 1900, 19 mission agencies were working at 65 mission stations. The Boxer Uprising had little impact in Guangdong, as in most southern provinces. Nonetheless, as was true in most of China, the first two decades of the 20th century saw significant church growth. By 1920, there were 22 agencies with 730 missionaries and 2828 national workers at 127 mission stations. Guangdong had 61,282 Protestants in 1920, the most in China.

Current Church Situation. Guangdong has a high level of house church activity, but overall, the time invested in Christian work there has not yielded corresponding fruit. The most famous unregistered church in China is led by Lin Xiangao (Samuel Lamb) in Guangzhou. Pastor Lin began his ministry in the 1940’s as an associate of Wang Mingdao. He was arrested in 1958 and spent twenty years in prison at hard labor. His church was raided in both 1982 and 1990, and thousands of Bibles and other Christian materials were seized. Despite persistent harassment, Pastor Lin has baptized thousands since his release from prison in 1978. He serves as an inspiration to many who simply wish to practice their faith free from outside interference and control.

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