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SHANXI PROVINCE

Pronunciation: shahn-shee
Meaning: West of the (Taihang) Mountains
Population: 32,032,000
Protestant Population: 320,000-960,000 (1-3%)
House Church Activity Level: High
Official Bible Schools/Seminaries: None

Picture 1. David Hill was serving in Shanxi during the Great Famine (1877-79) with the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society when he led Xi Shengmo to the Lord. Hill died in Hubei in 1896 from typhus contracted during work with flood refugees.

Picture 2. Xi Shengmo (Pastor Hsi, seated center) had been a Confucian scholar and opium addict before his conversion to Christ. His contention that Christianity was not a foreign religion, but rather a return to the ancient monotheism of China, has recently been documented in God’s Promise to the Chinese (Read Books Publisher 1997).

GATEWAY CITIES

Linfen: Pop. 651,818
Jincheng: Pop. 731,575
Yuci: Pop. 489,865
Yuncheng: Pop. 541,602

GENERAL INFORMATION. Shanxi is considered one of the cradles of China’s civilization and “high places” abound. Mount Xuanwu is one of Daoism’s Five Sacred Mountains, and Mount Wutai is one of Buddhism’s Four Sacred Mountains. Shanxi is a poor, land-locked province. Mountains cover 72% of Shanxi’s area, and coal mining is the main industry. Air and water pollution are severe, and Shanxi’s capital, Taiyuan, is regularly rated as one of the world’s most polluted cities.

PROVINCIAL CHURCH HISTORY. During the Great Famine of 1877-79, 1/3 of Shanxi’s 15 million people starved to death. 69 foreign missionaries came to Shanxi for relief work, including great pioneer missionaries like David Hill (see photo; 32 years in China ) and Timothy Richards (45 years in China) . The famine, and Shanxi’s deep poverty, were partly attributed to widespread opium growing and use in Shanxi. In response, Pastor Xi Shengmo (see photo) developed a pioneer indigenous ministry which served over 300,000 addicts in Shanxi and Henan.
Two decades after missionaries entered Shanxi for famine relief, the province became infamous as their “killing field”. On July 9, 1900, during the Boxer Uprising, 45 foreign Christians, including a number of children, were beheaded in Taiyuan under the personal supervision of the provincial governor. In all, an astounding 159 of the 189 foreign Protestants who were martyred died in Shanxi. In 1901, upon the invitation of the new provincial governor, Timothy Richards returned to Taiyuan after a 15 year absence and for 10 years led a new, western-style university.
The year of the Boxer Uprising also saw the birth in south Shanxi of Yang Shaotang (David Yang), a major figure in the indigenous church movement. In the 1930’s God used Pastor Yang’s Spiritual Action Teams to bring revival to Shanxi, and he later pastored churches in Nanjing and Shanghai before disappearing under Communist rule.
English missionary Gladys Alyward’s rescue of over 100 Shanxi orphans from the Japanese Army was told in the movie “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.” Norwegian missionary Peter Torjesson lost his life in Shanxi during a Japanese air raid in December 1939. A visit by family members years later opened the door for an innovative relief and development project in Shanxi.

CURRENT CHURCH SITUATION. Shanxi, like much of China, presents a paradoxical picture of persecution and revival. Shanxi had about 26,000 Protestants in 1949, and the number is likely 15-30 more today. In 1991, a legally constructed church building in Datong was bulldozed by authorities, but the registered church there then grew from 200-300 believers to over 70,000. In 1998, authorities closed 56 legally registered home meeting points in Taiyuan, but reports of explosive growth continue to emerge from the area. In 1993, evangelists Miss Xu Fang and Mr. Lai Manping were stripped and brutally beaten by police in Shanxi. Mr. Lai died a few days later, and Miss Xu’s whereabouts have remained unknown for several years.

KEY PRAYER POINTS:
1. Pray for the needs of Miss Xu Fang and other Christians who continue to be persecuted and imprisoned for their faith in the Lord Jesus.
2. Pray over spirits of hopelessness and death that seem especially potent due to the presence of two of China’s nine “sacred mountains” in Shanxi. Despite its small population, in 1995 and 1998 respectively, Shanxi had 311,368 and 246,022 female sterilizations (the third most in China) and over 230,000 abortions.
3. Pray that foreign and national Christians can contribute to the economic development needs in Shanxi while also meeting the health problems, especially for children, caused by severe water and air pollution.

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