A particularly interesting section talks about wealthy Wenzhou, “China’s Jerusalem,” where an estimated 12% of the population is Christian. They profile a “Boss christian”, so-called because of entrepreneurial success. His name is Zheng Shengtao.
… a member of the provincial Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the government, and director of the Wenzhou General Chamber of Commerce. He has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the 395th richest man in China, with assets estimated at more than $400 million.
His consortium is called the Shenli Group, a name which translates literally as “God’s power.” It encompasses mining projects, real estate development and machinery.
Zheng believes that making money is literally doing God’s work.
“We have to be the salt of the earth. We don’t bribe officials to make money or make fake products or harm the customers’ interests or evade tax. We don’t think the wealth belongs to us. We’re just like bank clerks. It’s God who gives you the career and the wealth and asks you to manage them,” he says.
The wealth of the Wenzhou christians and their involvement with the government also sheds light on the underground house church movement and their reaction against state-controlled churches called “The Three Self church.”
“The state was trying to control us,” says one worshiper, who asked not to be named, “so we set up our own church not to follow the government, but to follow the God of the Bible.”
As the prayer meeting begins, a woman at the front of the room starts crying and praying into a microphone. Hundreds of people are kneeling on mats on the floor, wailing and rocking, tears dropping down their cheeks.
This is the new face of Christianity in China: the up-and-coming urban middle classes. Material needs met, they are now seeking spiritual comfort.
Pray for the church in China as they encounter growing pains of wealth, governance, and remaining in first love with the Lord.
Full story from NPR after the jump.