While we are free to act as Christians and to express ourselves within the foreign community in China, it is important to not draw attention to ourselves. Serving China is a strategic opportunity to be a part of what God has been doing in China for years and will continue for years to come. The safety and blessing of the Chinese people is of utmost concern. National Christians could face serious consequences if their involvement with Christian activities becomes known.
It is essential to constantly be aware that China is a police state, and their government misconstrues Christian activity as subversive – especially by foreigners. A single careless slip on our part can lead to disaster, especially for our dear Chinese brothers and sisters. This means that every conversation must be non-political and any Christian content carefully disguised.
Evangelism should be done in a cultural context and in conjunction with local believers. In China, the enforcement of laws and policies vary from city to city. Only participate in activities that are deemed appropriate by the Christians in the area that you are operating. Avoid all activities that are high profile or public.
Why do you often have to be so secretive about what you are doing in China?
Operating in the most hostile areas of the world, we must be extremely careful to protect the local church from further persecution and restrictions. Often we cannot share the name of a city or church we are helping because word can be spread very quickly and may cause the arrest of the believers, confiscation of the materials and great danger for our local contacts.
Are Christians really suffering from persecution and restrictions today?
The closer we come to the end of the age, the more the persecution of the church intensifies. Today, in many parts of the world, God’s people do not have the liberty to meet freely, cannot get a Bible, are fired from jobs and may even be driven from their homes because they will not renounce their faith. Pastors are prohibited from obtaining the training they need, and are often thrown into prison or subjected to constant harassment by local officials or religious leaders.
Where is the church receiving the greatest persecution today?
A major area of “neglected fields of harvest” today is in the “10/40 Window” where 97 percent of the world’s least evangelized people live. This rectangular area extends from West Africa across Asia, between the 10th and 40th parallels north of the equator. There are 1.6 billion Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists living in this window, and in some countries the Church has almost been eliminated as a result of Islamic oppression. The Christian population there is less than 2 percent, a small but precious minority. Another critical area in the “10/40 Window” where Christians are being persecuted is China. Pastors and evangelists are being arrested. House churches are being closed and their leaders threatened. Some key contacts have been jailed for distributing Bibles. And despite the decline of communism in Europe, China still maintains a hard-line atheist stance, and the situation for the church is worsening there.
What do you do beyond taking Bibles to the Suffering Church?
We want to respond effectively to the cries of the Suffering Church. We aren’t limited to any one way of helping the church, but our practice is to first ask the church leaders what their needs are. If they are in need of Bibles, we will find a way to get them delivered. If they need training for their leaders, we will find a way to get the job done. If they need prayer for believers who have been put in prison, we will mobilize an international prayer army to intercede for their release. And we often find a way to provide food, clothing, and medicine to believers who are living in hardship. Supplying Bibles will always be a very big part of what we do. This is because the Bible and biblical teaching is at the very core of our ministry and organizational policy.
What makes IAfC such a unique ministry?
When severe suffering and restriction hit the church, we are usually among the very first to find a way to answer the call for help. Ever since God called us into ministry in 1993, the Lord has shown us that we can overcome the tactics of the enemy through prayer, steadfast faith and an expectation that God will lead us. We use many innovative and strategic ways to confound the authorities who desperately want to stop us from helping the church they are trying to control and eliminate. We usually respond to their cries for help through person-to-person contact and visits.
Why should IAfC be one of the primary mission organizations I support today?
Ours is a unique mission that builds spiritual leadership behind the enemy’s lines to help the Suffering Church survive and grow. We have been called to go into the very toughest spots where most other ministries don’t go. We are a “leading edge ministry.” When leaders are reached for Christ and the church strengthened, countries can be changed from the inside out, resulting in tremendous opportunities to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.