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China Sunday School Lesson Plan


Use the following suggestions to teach a Sunday school class or other group a lesson about the persecution of Christians.

Feedback: Tell us what you think about it and share with us other ways you used it. You can include your comments about your experience in the comment section or send a message on the contact page.

Students will learn that Christians can praise God even when they are afraid, and that they can trust God in the midst of trials and struggles.

Teach the children to say “Jesus loves me” in Chinese (Yeh-soo ai woh; “ai” is pronounced like the word “eye.”) Sing the song “Jesus Loves Me,” substituting the Chinese words for the parts of the song that use those words.

Introduction to Bible story: In our Bible story, we will learn about some Christians who went to jail. Christians in some countries today are in jail for breaking the countries’ rules against Christian activities.

Verse to Share
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Bible Story (Acts 16)
Singing in Jail

The apostle Paul and his friend Silas traveled by ship to a faraway city to tell the people about Jesus. While they were walking in the city, a fortuneteller began shouting at them and following them around.

Paul knew that the girl had an evil spirit in her. After several days, he was so weary of her shouting that he turned to her and talked to the spirit. “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,” he said. And the spirit left her.

The girl’s bosses were angry. She made them a lot of money by telling people’s fortunes. When the evil spirit left her, she no longer told fortunes. The bosses had Paul and Silas beaten with rods and thrown in jail.

Paul and Silas must have been in pain after their beating. But they did not stop loving God. In prison, they prayed and sang hymns while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly an earthquake shook the prison. The doors flew open and the chains that were holding the prisoners came loose. The guard saw all the doors open and thought the prisoners had escaped. He knew he would be punished if he let the prisoners get away.

But Paul said to him, “We are all here!”

The jailer was amazed! He asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved. They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” The jailer cleaned Paul’s and Silas’ wounds and took them to his house to eat. The next day the town officials let them go free.

Discussion Options

  • Why did the girl’s bosses have Paul and Silas put in jail?
  • Deuteronomy 18:10–12 and other Bible verses tell us that God does not want people to participate in fortunetelling, superstitions, or witchcraft. What are some of the ways people today follow superstitions, or try to have “good luck”?
  • Suppose someone asked you, “What must I do to be saved?” How would you answer? (Use this opportunity to guide the children in sharing the gospel with children in the class who might not have heard it.)

Concepts to Introduce
The Bible says that those who follow Jesus will have problems sometimes (John 16:33). But God promises that he will be with us and help us in good times and bad (Matthew 28:20).

We can trust God even when we don’t understand why God is allowing certain things to happen in our lives. The Bible says, “Lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). That means we can’t always trust our own understanding of situations, but we can trust God.

When we trust someone, we believe what they say is true. When we trust that God is with us always, we can praise him even when we have problems!

Introduction to China
About half the people in China do not follow any religion. Another 40 percent follow Buddhism or Chinese traditional religions. But thousands of Chinese people are giving their lives to Jesus!

China’s Communist government controls public worship, property, and media. The leaders might decide to allow people to own certain businesses, build a church building, or even print Bibles. But under Communism, government leaders can take away these “rights”.

Story to Read Aloud: Jesus Forever
Sometimes it takes extra courage just to go to Sunday school in China. Government officials in some parts of China do not approve of adults teaching children under 18 about God and Jesus. At times Chinese officials ignore churches that have classes for children. But sometimes police raid the classes. Then they put the children’s teachers and parents in jail. (A raid is when the police or someone else enter suddenly by force to seize something or someone, or to put a stop to certain activities.)

One day a few years ago, Chinese police officers raided a Sunday school class of more than 30 children. They put the children in a large van to take them to the police station. The children knew they were in trouble because of their Christian activities. Their teachers had warned them about what might happen if they came to Sunday school. The students were probably a bit scared. But they praised God anyway, singing Christian songs together in the van.

At the police station, the police took the children into a room for questioning. A policeman began to threaten them. He told them they could not leave until they wrote “I do not believe in Jesus” 100 times. Boldly, the children wrote, “I believe in Jesus today. I will believe in Jesus tomorrow. I will believe in Jesus forever.”

The policemen didn’t know what to do. Then the children’s parents came to the station. The police said they could not take their children home unless the parents said they didn’t believe in Jesus anymore.

(Ask the children if they know what a “widow” is.) One widow said, “You will just have to keep them, because without Jesus, there would be no way for me to take care of them.” The annoyed policeman allowed her and the other parents to take their children home. How do you think the children and their moms and dads felt when they were allowed to go home together?

Discussion Options

  • To explain: In some countries today, Christians can go to jail for making someone important angry, even if they did not commit a crime.
  • Why did the police take the children to the police station?
  • Why were the children not surprised that they got in trouble? (The teachers had warned them what might happen.)
  • What did the Chinese children do when they were scared?
  • Did the children and the parents stop believing in Jesus when they got in trouble for going to Sunday school?
  • The Bible tells us we will have trouble in the world (John 16:33). But God promises to be with us always, so we can trust him. How did the Chinese children show they trusted God at the police station?
  • How were the children in China like Paul and Silas in the Bible?
  • What do you do when you are scared?

Facts to Share
In China, some churches are approved by the government. But many Christians do not want to attend these registered churches because they are controlled by the government. These Christians meet in house churches that are not government approved. In some areas, officials leave these “unregistered” churches alone. In other places, they raid the churches.

Underground Church Meeting
Explain that in places where Christians are not always welcome to meet openly, many Christians meet secretly in homes, woods, caves, or other hidden places. These Christians are called “the underground church,” which means “secret church.”

Plan an “underground church meeting.” Before going to the meeting place, discuss who most recently had a birthday so that person’s birthday can be celebrated as a “cover” if necessary.

Walk quietly to another classroom or space to hold your meeting. Sing in whispers, share Bible verses, and pray quietly. (Christians in some countries do not have Bibles or do not carry them in public.) Use flashlights or electric candles for lighting.

Ask someone to play the part of a police officer. The officer will wait outside the meeting until time to enter. Provide a birthday cake and a few decorations so your meeting can become a “birthday party” if it is discovered.

As everyone prepares to leave, let the “police officer” enter and ask suspiciously, “What’s going on here?” Bring out the cake and decorations and ask the officer to stay for the birthday party. The officer can warn the others that he has heard about Christians meeting illegally and he himself has arrested some Christians. After he has a piece of cake, he may leave—or he might stay and allow the Christians to share the truth about Jesus with him.

Discussion Questions

  • What did you think about meeting “secretly”? Was it hard to remember to talk and sing quietly?
  • What would be the hardest part of having to gather secretly for worship?
  • If you had to meet secretly for worship, what would you want Christians in other countries to pray for you?
  • When we meet for church or Bible study here, what do we need to worry about?

Closing Remarks
Zhang Rongliang is a Chinese Christian who was in prison for more than seven years. While he was in prison, he shared the good news of Jesus with many prisoners, and a church was started. When he got out, he talked to Christians who prayed for him to get out of prison early before he completed his prison sentence. “In one way, I am happy that you failed,” he said. “If you had been successful, there would be no church in that prison today.” Zhang trusted God to use him for something good, even when he was in prison.

Encourage the children to praise and trust God this week, even if they are given chores or assignments that they do not like.

Closing Prayer Suggestion
Dear God, Please let all the children in China learn that Jesus loves them. Thank you that we can attend Sunday School freely. We pray that government leaders will be fair to Christians and all the citizens. Thank you that more and more people in China are reading the Bible and learning about you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Optional Ideas
Use one or more of the suggestions below at any time during the lesson.

1. Map Activity
Help the students find China on a globe or map. Compare the size of China to the United States.

2. China Flag
Show the students an outline of a Chinese flag. (Shown at the top of the post.) Have them draw one on a piece of paper and color it. The background is red and the five stars are yellow. Hang the flags in the classroom or tape small versions to a map of China

3. Chopsticks
Tell the students that Chinese children eat with chopsticks. Ask someone who knows how to use chopsticks to demonstrate the technique to the class. Provide chopsticks for the students and let them practice picking up small objects or snack foods such as raisins.

4. CD Coaster Meal Prayer Reminder

  1. Draw around a CD or DVD on a piece of paper to make a circle.
  2. Write or draw something on the circle that reminds you of China. Some examples are found on Page 38 of the Bold Believers in China activity book in the free downloads section on this website. Leave a margin about 1/8-inch wide between your drawing and the edge of the circle.
  3. Cut out the circle. Then cut off another 1/8 inch all the way around the circle so that the circle will be smaller than the CD.
  4. Center the circle on the CD. You may want to put a small piece of rolled-up tape on the back of the circle to hold it in place.
  5. Draw around the CD on clear contact paper and cut out the contact-paper circle.
  6. To finish the coaster, cover the top of the CD with contact paper to seal the picture to the CD.

Additional materials about China