Download this 4-day Family Devotional (tip: print as a booklet) as you learn and pray during your “Travels.”
Below are some fun facts and information to learn about the country and people of China, including:
- Chinese Language
- Chinese Foods
- Chinese Culture & Arts
- Spiritual Needs in China
China is the largest East Asian country, barely smaller than the United States in land mass (3.70 million square miles vs 3.79 million square miles) and a total population of 1.4 billion people, four times that of the United States! Its territory includes mountains, high plateaus, sandy deserts, dense forests, and thousands of rivers. One-third of China’s land area is mountains and the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, sits on the border between China and Nepal. The country of China consists of 23 provinces, 4 municipalities, 5 autonomous regions, and two special administrative regions. It has a long rich history and is considered one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Ancient China was known for its inventions and is attributed for inventing paper, the magnetic compass, printing, porcelain, silk, and gun powder. Today, China is one of the fastest changing countries in the world. The majority of Chinese would consider themselves part of the ethnic majority group: Han, which comprises of over 90% of the population. But there are many diverse ethnic groups as well! Some of these groups have their own language and culture, some believe in a different religion than the majority Han population. You can learn more about the different ethnic groups and their spiritual needs here.
Print off this coloring page for your younger kids to enjoy as you learn about China together.
The Chinese language, or “zhongwen,” (钟文) is made of up of characters (or pictures) instead of letters, which makes reading it very challenging. The spoken Chinese language is fairly simple when it comes to sentence structure and conjugation but makes up for it in the challenge of its many dialects (different pronunciations of the same character around the country), use of tones, and the purely character writing system. Since the 1950s, the country has tried to unify its language and writing system, simplifying the characters and today almost all of its citizens can speak Mandarin Chinese, the main dialect and official language of the country. Learn how to say “hello” in Mandarin Chinese and if possible, use the individual’s title before their name to show respect. You can say “ni hao” (你好) or “ni hao ma?” (你好吗?) in most settings. This phrase means “hello” and “how are you?”
A fun way for kids to get a taste of a different language is hearing a song they know sung in the new language. Here is “Jesus Loves Me” in Mandarin Chinese. Can your children pick out any of the Mandarin words? “Yesu” (耶稣) is Jesus! Take a video of your kids listening to the song and tag me on social media or share in our Facebook Community!
Watch this short 2min overview video about China with your kids.
To the Chinese, eating is everything! Many social gatherings would include a lot of food and it would not be polite to decline food whenever offered. One form of greeting literally means “have you eaten yet?” (你吃了吗) Expect to eat a lot and eat often! Favorite foods will vary depending upon which region of the country they are from, but some staple favorites are Peking Duck, Kung Pao Chicken, Baozi and Jiaozi, Tea Eggs, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Hot Pot. Make a fun family outing of going to a local Chinese restaurant (try to find one owned by a Chinese family) and explore their cuisine. Make sure to ask your host where they or their family are from originally in China and for their recommendations. Chinese food is as diverse as its people and varies a lot based on the regions, so try different restaurants to find what you like! Don’t be afraid to try new things and encourage your children to as well. While you (and they!) might not like everything, enjoy it as an adventurous experience and laugh together. Your hosts will appreciate your candor and feel loved by your interest in their culture and food.
Want to try a few Chinese recipes at home? Involve your kids! I’ve previewed these recipes so they have ingredients that you should be able to find at your local grocery store:
Chinese Fried Rice: Basic Recipe for Fried Rice
Chinese Kung Pao Chicken: Stir-Fried Kung Pao Chicken
Chinese Dumplings: Jiaozi Recipe
Chinese Culture & Art
China is known for its beautiful calligraphy. Beyond just a fanciful way to write their characters, or words, calligraphy was an art that the ancient Chinese masters would learn to cultivate their temperament. Masters in this art believe the brush strokes themselves are carriers of their thoughts. You do not need to understand what the characters mean to appreciate the beauty of Chinese calligraphy.
If you are interested in learning more about Chinese culture and people, search your area for Chinese cultural festivals. With over 5.5million Chinese or those of Chinese descent living in the United States, almost every medium-sized town will have local Chinese festivals. Because the ancient Chinese calendar was a lunar calendar, the dates of these festivals float around our modern calendar. Some favorites are: Chinese New Year in January/February and the Chinese Lantern Festival (last day of the Chinese New Year celebration), Tomb Sweeping Day (April), Dragon Boat Festival (June), and Mid-Autumn Festival (September). But there are many more, most with deep spiritual and historical meaning to the Chinese. Do your research on any festivals you choose to attend before you go so that you can understand the significance and explain these to your children in light of what God says in the Bible.
Spiritual Needs in China
Set aside some time to pray for the country and people of China. Your family could pray for God to open the Chinese people’s eyes to the Gospel. Pray for culturally relevant opportunities for missionaries to speak about Jesus there. Pray for God to break into a country where religions are persecuted. Lay your hands on the globe or map and cover China with your prayers.
Print off this post-card sized prayer card and commit to pray for China as a family!
Or download my 4-day Family Devotional (tip: print as a booklet) on China!
For more information on the spiritual needs in China, watch this recent report on missions in China.
And enjoy listening to these Chinese Christian worship songs, many of which have English subtitles.