To Our Clients, Colleagues and Friends,
One arena W4A attempts to excel in is understanding the religious community in China. The relationship between government and church is dissimilar to what we have in the USA in numerous ways.
Our intention at W4A is: 1) Make sure we have the facts. 2) Communicate the facts accurately. 3) Assist clients who wish to serve in China to do so in a manner which follows Chinese regulations and policies to formulate a lasting and positive working relationship.
Recently clients and friends have inquired regarding the status and activities of religious bodies in China. Some has also inquired as to when the door may open again for visits to China.
Hopefully this information will be of interest.
1) When the virus hit China, churches and all public gatherings were stopped almost immediately and pretty much in total. There was no favoritism shown to any group(s). In this matter it was much like we have experienced in the USA.
2) To our knowledge all church leaders complied with the policy. During the height of the crisis church leaders were ask to not travel but stay close to their parish or congregation to prevent anyone from showing up on Sundays.
3) April 8th a new policy called “Prevention Measures for Key Venues” was distributed. In part, it says “suggest only low risk venues gradually and open in an orderly manner. Middle or high risk venues must be sanitized and can begin to operate with constant monitoring of the personal health index. All larger gatherings such as sports events, marathons, religious gatherings and expositions are not permitted at this time.” When I ask my contacts what the word “suggest” meant they smiled and said “it is a kind way of saying this is the law.” The CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) requested permission to continue their play. It was denied.
4) Many religious leaders have continued to care for their “flocks” during this period of closure. We have had multiple requests for scooters and motorbikes which are used by care-givers for the elderly, sick and those in need of basic medical supplies and food.
5) In the period when religious gatherings are stopped some have expressed concern for religious financing. Religious groups have been able to sustain their properties and salaries in three ways:
a) WeChat giving: Donors may swipe a QR code which churches set up. Anyone can give by this means as they choose.
b) Ali Pay giving. It is similar to our Apple Pay. It is tied to a person’s bank account or credit card.
c) Personal cash donations. Many elderly do not use smart phone payment systems. They give to their church of choice in cash. In the rural areas, the income has been seriously curtailed as churches are not open to the public. Professional clergy, dependent upon these donations for their sole source of income, are hurting deeply. However, it should be noted, very few clergy are full-time in the rural areas. Almost all have some other source of income. Almost all full-time clergy serve and live in the large cities.
6) Finally, as for visiting China, it should be noted China is not honoring most foreign visas at this time. Even travelers who hold 10 years visas should not assume they will be granted entrance into China. We do not know when this restriction will be lifted. Word4Asia is guessing no later than June. However, this is only our surmising. What actually occurs will be decided by the Chinese officials.
We will continue to keep you abreast of this developing situation as it develops. We hope that you and your families are all safe and healthy during these challenging times.
Dr. Gene Wood
Word4Asia Consulting International
155 N. Riverview Drive, Ste. 218
Anaheim Hills, CA. 92808