Amid news of the Chinese government’s crack down on Christianity, reports are also circulating of the remarkable growth taking place in the Chinese church. Of course, with the government being so tight-lipped it is impossible to verify the accuracy of these accounts.
It is also difficult to know how many Christians there are in China. In 2010, the Chinese government officially said it had 23 million Christians. However, that only included those attending the legally sanctioned church — the one run by the Communist government.
When you include the underground church, the numbers would obviously be higher. A 2010 survey conducted by Dr. Yanga Fenggang of Purdue University put the total number of Christians closer to 33 million (30 million protestants, 3 million Catholics).
However based on a 2011 survey, Pew Forum estimated the number of Christians at 67 million. If this number is right, the underground church is nearly twice as large as the officially sanctioned church.
Curiously, a recent Global Trends (GT) survey of 23 countries in September-October 2016 uncovered evidence that may confirm the larger number.
In its survey, GT asked a number of questions including asking people their response to the following spiritual statement:
“I am interested in having a more spiritual dimension in my daily life.”
In China, 84% of the people surveyed said they were interested in more spirituality in their life. This in a country obsessed with pounding atheism down the throats of its people.
Though this response does not imply that these people are necessarily Christian, it nevertheless reveals a deep spiritual hunger in that country.
The following list breaks down people’s’ openness to more spirituality in their life (by selected country):
- Indonesia 84% (open to more spirituality)
- South Africa 84%
- Peru 80%
- India 79%
- Brazil 75%
- Mexico 74%
- Turkey 71%
- US 67%
- Argentina 65%
- Canada 51%
- Japan 28% (the lowest)
GT also asked people to respond to the following statement:
“My religion/faith is very important to me.”
Note that they asked if it was “very” important.
Overall Global Trends said that there has been a growth in the number of people who consider their faith important to them. In 2016, 53% of the people said their faith was very important, up from 45% when asked the same question in 2014. This is a significant increase in just two years.
Remarkably this growth even showed up in most of the 11 European countries that were surveyed — Turkey, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Great Britain, France and Spain.
European nations are typically the most secularized countries in the world. But only Belgium did not show an increase. European countries where over 50% of the people said their faith was important to them included Italy, Russia, Poland and Turkey.
When asked if faith was important:
- Turkey 77% said yes (up over 2014)
- Poland 60% said yes (up over 2014)
- Russia 58% said yes (up over 2014)
- Italy 52% said yes (up over 2014)
- Germany 38% said yes (up over 2014)
- Spain 33% said yes (up over 2014)
- France 30% said yes (up over 2014)
- England 30% said yes (up over 2014)
- Sweden 29% said yes (up over 2014)
- Belgium 27% said yes (down over 2014)
As we study the end times, there are verses suggesting in the midst of the trials that will envelope the world many will also turn to Christ:
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; (Revelation 7:9 NASV)
- Europeans open to more spirituality in daily life: Evangelical Focus
- Interest in spirituality: Global Trends chart