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Faithful mark festival with prayers for peace

[ 2010-12-24 10:11]     字号 [] [] []  
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Although Christmas was not a significant festival for ordinary middle-aged Chinese, Cui Shaoqi found himself drawn to the spirit of the occasion.

He built a manger outside his church with other members of the congregation and added the final touches with a bed of straw.

Cui, who is in his 50s, is a member of the Beijing South Cathedral, the oldest Catholic church in the capital. Like other churches at this time of year, the cathedral was decorated with Christmas trees and festive lanterns.

"We would like to introduce people to the origins of the holiday with the use of a traditional setting," he said.

As Christmas falls on the weekend this year, Cui said he expects a large turnout at church.

The priest holds Mass at the church every Christmas Eve, which draws hundreds of people.

Some of them, especially the young, have started to learn the Christian doctrine and eventually asked to be baptized, he said.

Other Christians in Beijing plan to celebrate the holiday with performances.

"We will preach after the performances to enable people to better understand the religion," said Li Hua, the pastor of the Beijing Chongwenmen Church, the first American Methodist church and the largest Protestant church in Beijing.

Meanwhile, officials of the Beijing Chongwenmen Church have asked Christians to give their seats to non-believers, so they can learn about Christianity and Jesus during Christmas.

"With this opportunity, we hope to persuade more people to convert to Christianity," Li said.

According to a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the first documented case of Christianity entering China was in the 7th century. China now has about 23 million Christians, who comprise roughly 1.8 percent of the population.

For many people, it is a way of finding peace in their lives.

"I thought God was a kind of Jade Emperor in Chinese myth and they were both superstitions in my childhood. But when I discovered Christianity, I was pleased that it was not based on superstition," said Yu Longsheng, a graduate student at Xiamen University.

Zhang Qiuju from Central China's Henan province converted to Christianity 16 years ago when she became ill. "I pray for health," she said.

Zhang Shuping's five-square-meter house was leveled in 2008 and she has yet to receive any compensation. Out of desperation, she started to attend church with her son, Zhang Jiaxin.

China's fast track to economic development is giving rise to different social problems, such as the increasing income gap and social injustice, said Liu Peng, a researcher at the academy.

"The loss of faith has become a serious 'illness' for Chinese in the 21st century."


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Faithful mark festival with prayers for peace

About the broadcaster:

Faithful mark festival with prayers for peace

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.