The religious climate in China, especially for Christians, may be messy but it’s not beyond understanding. Here is a course, The Church in China Today, which offers a comprehensive overview of the church in China, ranging from a historical understanding of how far the church has come, to the struggles it endures in present day, to common misconceptions about the state of the church.
“The Church in China Today? Isn’t Christianity illegal there?” Maybe this has been your reaction to hearing about the church in China or maybe you’ve heard others react this way. As with many things in China, the answer is “yes and no” but the part that is an absolute “yes” is that Christianity in China is growing.
In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping, demanded to meet privately with several senior Chinese house church leaders. Although the content of their discussions was kept strictly confidential, the results were soon evident, as waves of persecution broke out against the house churches throughout China.
In Shandong’s Qingdao City, the police visited a local house church leader and told him, “We know all about your meetings. We have been instructed to close you down, but we will continue to let you meet if you give us all the weekly offerings you collect in your church!”
The house church leader rejected the attempted extortion, and the church broke up into numerous small groups, allowing them to gather discreetly and without disturbance from the corrupt local authorities.
In 2017 and 2018, many pastors and evangelists have been arrested and interrogated, while others have been bundled into vans or taken from their homes and sent to one of China’s notorious secret “black jails”—unofficial places where the government’s perceived enemies are taken and tortured mercilessly.
A letter received in late 2018 presented a sobering summary of the conditions:
“The government now requires that all churches be controlled by the Communist Party. They must even display the national flag to show their loyalty. Some large churches have been asked to hand over their offerings to the police. When the pastors refuse to do so, they are ordered to disband their congregations. The crackdown has been spreading and we expect tough times ahead.
The government is once again trying to squeeze the life out of the Church. There are new laws prohibiting any religious activities without government approval—even holding Bible studies of more than ten people in homes. We need to conduct trainings with fewer participants.
Things here are like in Mao’s day! We never thought we would return to such a time. The younger generation of believers have never experienced severe persecution, and they are shaken. Please pray they will patiently endure, and their faith will be tested and found to be like pure gold.”
The Church in China has been blessed with powerful revivals, and from the ruins of ashes, floods, famines and wars has arisen a shining and holy Bride of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has gained much glory from His disciples, where today an estimated 100 million plus people confess Christ as Lord and Savior.
While the current leaders of China appear determined to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors by again trying to destroy God’s children, let us pray that the persecution will again result in revival and continual rapid growth in China.
The greatest need of Christians in China continues to be Bibles. Those in rural areas struggle to access God’s Word, and the large numbers of new believers has seen the size of the need far outstrip the supply. The need for Bibles is greater than ever, with an increasing number of believers in China unable to access Bibles due to government restrictions and persecution.
From the early days when we hauled heavy bags and suitcases of Bibles across borders we now put “Bibles on USB Drives.” Pray that each of these life-changing USB drives will find their way to many who are searching for the truth, and that they would be gripped and convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit as they read the Scriptures for the first time.
It may be hard for some people to really picture the hunger for God’s Word that exists in China. We need to press on even when the Word of God is been marginalized, cast aside or banned from the public domain by the Government.
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We are scared, but we have Jesus