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Since churches in China reopened in the 1980s, there has been an exponential growth in the number of Christians – from 2.7 million in 1949 to more than 46 million today. What has contributed to such tremendous growth?

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Believers during a prayer meeting at the main church at Luhe district. (Photo: UBS CP/ Cynthia Oh

NANJING, China – When Rev Liu Xiaofan, 57, was working as a carpenter in his younger days, he did not expect himself to be repairing and restoring chairs for his church a decade later. “This church was built in 1924. It has an eventful history and there’s an amazing story behind the pews too,” shared Rev Liu from the dining cum living room of his home, adjacent to the church building.

Of Chairs The greyish two-storey church building, having stood for the past 90 years is awash with history and charm. It saw the ravages of the Sino-Japanese War, rise of Communism, onslaught of Cultural Revolution, and the open door policy of Deng Xiaoping, with her fate rising and falling according to the times. Besides being used as what it is in the beginning as a church, it was also used later as an exhibition hall, then a community hall where movie screenings and other mass gatherings were held and even as a commercial warehouse before it was eventually reinstated for religious activity in 1984. “When it was reinstated as a church in 1984, there was even a life-sized statue of Mao Zedong in the middle of the sanctuary that had to be moved to another place!”

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Shanghai, China  What does the Bible say about values? “Psalms 116:15 says, The Lord values the lives of His servants. We know that Jesus came to bring abundant life. The Bible values life - it enables people to discover life and let it flourish,” shared Prof Paul Williams, Chief Executive of British Bible Society (BFBS) at the opening ceremony of the 6th Bible in China Seminar held in Shanghai, attended by Chinese academics and researchers of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Shanghai Communist Party School, Christian leaders, seminary students, members of Bible Societies and international guest speakers.

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