Monthly Archives: April 2019

April 2019 Update

Rolf had hardly arrived in his city when the owner of the school took him off for 4 days on a 6 hour train ride to another province for an educational seminar. He wanted Rolf’s opinion on what was being presented and whether he should use the materials in his school.

He is now in full teaching mode and the classes are going well. He has a total of 60 students, 15 each in his regular classes Monday through Thursday. Friday is his day off doing household chores and shopping. He has already been able to start to build good relationships with 3 businessmen. They have gone out for dinner and cultural events and Rolf is excited to what the future will bring as the friendships evolve. All 3 of them are not members of the party and they are interested to learn more about America and its worldview. PRAY for right timing and readiness to introduce them to a Christian worldview.

The “Faith or Fiction” classes are also going well. His 5 leaders are already in week 8 of the curriculum with 195 participants. Rolf has started his own class on Saturday mornings with 10 English speaking participants that were hand picked out for him by one of the leaders.

One of his goals on this trip was to train up two new leaders and praises he has already being introduced to a potential new leader and is training her how to do the classes and what to look for. She is a former Chinese English teacher that now is an “Uber” driver or as it is called in China a “Didi” driver. She lives in a High Rise community of 15,000 families and plans on holding small group “Faith or Fiction” classes evenings during the week after her training finishes the end of May. Pray for her and those that will be in her class that more lives will be changed and there will be continued multiplication to God be the glory!

With the tightening religious restrictions and the targeted effort to rid the country of all foreign influences, especially Westerners, has made for some uneasiness being there. Last month 3 Christian workers were expelled in his province. For more in-depth activities see our web blog at “China – in His image” and read firsthand about what’s happening in China. Please PRAY for protection for Rolf, the school, his leaders and their students. Pray they will remain strong and bold with caution and awareness.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

After Rolf left Sherri found herself with having to have another surgery! She had a nasal cell on her lower eyelid that needed to be removed. This involved the dermatologist doing a “Mohs” surgery to remove it and then the next day to have a reconstruction surgery done at the hospital by her ophthalmologist/plastic surgeon. She lost a third of her lid and had to do a skin graft to put it back together. The healing is going well and when all is said and done nobody will ever be able to tell that it happened. The hardest part is no bending, lifting or anything strenuous for a month! Pray for patience!!

With much thanks and gratitude to all of YOU.

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Digital Maoism

Chairman Mao is back, and this time he has got a “smart phone.”

The label “neo-Maoism” for the ideology and practices of President Xi Jinping can be misleading. He maintains both the criticism of the Cultural Revolution formulated by his post-Mao predecessors and their unabashedly pro-capitalist attitude towards the economy. In fact, anti-capitalist students who tried to manifest hailing Mao and Karl Marx were immediately arrested.

A new app for smart phones, the use of which is “mandatory” for CCP members, takes the “personality cult” of President Xi Jinping to new, “unprecedented” heights.

Yet, there is something in common between Xi and Mao: “the personality cult.” Sometimes, Xi returns to the old personality cult of Chairman Mao. More often, he promotes the personality cult of himself. His portraits are ubiquitous in China, but Xi has something Mao did not have: “the Internet and smart phones.”

2019 is being celebrated by Chinese media as the year of a “digital revolution” in CCP propaganda. Even in the West, publicity often suggests that, if you do not “download” a certain application, you are a loser. This is literally true in China: “If you do not download and use a specific application, you may lose your job.”

The Orwellian story reads like a “dystopian” novel but is unfortunately true. In January 2019, the CCP launched a new app available for both Apple and Android platforms, “Xi Study (Xue Xi) Strong Nation” (学习强国), available from the Web site xuexi.cn.

The name needs to be explained, as it includes a word game in Chinese. “Xi” is the President’s last name but is also the second character in the Chinese word “xuexi” (学习), which means “to study.” The implication is that the study of the President’s “utterances” is the most important study of them all.

Apple, which is “censoring” hundreds of applications in China quickly obliged, as did the other platforms; and the app is now up and running at full speed, courtesy of the “Propaganda and Public Opinion Research Center of the Central Propaganda Department of the CCP” (中共中央宣传部宣传舆情研究中心), once known as the “CCP’s Research Center on Ideology and Political Work” (思想政治工作研究所).

It includes speeches and writings of President Xi, in “text, audio, and video” forms. But it also includes something else. Users gain “points” by using the application. This is called the “Xi Study Points” system (学习积分系统). The system is “clever but not generous.” As reported by the specialized web site China Media Project, reading one article earns you only 0.1 points. The same applies to posting an appropriate comment. Watching a single video earns you 0.1  points. Thirty minutes of sustained activity is rewarded with 1 point.

This is not all. There is a “surveillance” system, which according to China Media Project is quite effective, which would “watch you” and can tell if you “move away” from your screen after having launched a “text or video.” It can also tell if your eyes read only a “few” paragraphs rather than the “whole” text. And there is a “daily limit” for earning points, to make sure that you would not “use the app only on weekends.” Not that use on weekends is not encouraged.

The rules about “points” earned through different activities on the App and the “lively intervals,” or “happy hours” for “double points” have been updated, or “optimized” on January 29, 2019.

“Every day, the first log-in earns 1 point; reading one article or watching one video earns 1 point, doubled at happy hours, but no more than 6 points per day can be earned for each activity; every 4 minutes of reading earns 1 point, doubled at happy hours, with a maximum of 8 per day; every 5 minutes of watching videos earns 1 point, doubled at happy hours, with a maximum of 10 per day; posting an appropriate comment earns 1 point, with a maximum of 5 per day; some other activities like taking exams can also earn points.

The “happy hours” is set at 6:00—8:30, 12:00—14:00, 20:00—22:30 every day. We understand the quota system mentioned in the Douban post refers to this “optimized” system of calculating points. The CCP wants you to sleep and be effective at work the next day. With this system, the CCP effectively colonizes most of the app users’ free time.”

But, after all, one can simply not use the app and not participate in the “silly competition” of earning Xi points, right? Wrong. The use of the app is “mandatory” for all CCP members. And many workplaces impose a “daily or weekly” quota of Xi points. If we believe a post on the social networking site Douban, in a public school, teachers have been requested to fulfill the “crazy quota” of 40 Xi points per day.

This is impossible without staying long hours at night without sleeping, and the post also outlines some possible strategies to “cheat” the system—but, obviously, the CCP reads these posts too and will release updates with more built-in “anti-cheating” software. Mandatory seminars on how to properly use the app have been organized all over China, with the clear message that those caught “cheating or not fulfilling their quotas may lose their jobs or worse.”

This may be too much even for the high “CCP cadres”, who are not “exempted” from using the app. Some months ago, all of a sudden the “portraits” of Xi Jinping disappeared from the CCP offices in several villages and cities. They soon reappeared, but some believed it was a “mafia-style” message from senior CCP bureaucrats to Xi Jinping: “do not exaggerate, or else.”

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Deal with the Devil

China’s most famous “civil rights activist” has joined the chorus of critics who have “denounced” the recent deal between the Vatican and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a “betrayal” of Chinese Catholics.

In an op-ed, Chen Guangcheng, a blind scholar and human rights advocate, used the harshest language to describe China under communist rule, calling it an “extraordinarily dictatorial and authoritarian nation” where many kinds of freedoms that are taken for granted in the West are “routinely and often violently repressed.”

“Human rights activists and lawyers disappear and are tortured, while alternative political parties are crushed,” he said. “Calls for justice are met with the iron hand of the state.”

Because of his firsthand knowledge of the “brutality” of the Chinese communist state, Chen said he watched the Vatican’s rapprochement with China take shape with “intense shock and dismay.”

“What we currently know of the agreement is that the Vatican will cede selection of bishops in China to the Communist Party,” he said. “In exchange, the CCP will recognize the pope as the official head of the Catholic Church, and regular relations between the two states will be renewed.”

The Vatican’s acceptance of these terms “is a slap in the face to millions of Catholics and other faithful religious people in China who have suffered real persecution under the CCP,” said Chen, who was arrested in 2005 and detained for years for exposing China’s “forced sterilization” of women to carry out its one-child — or two-child — policy.

“Over the past decade, the CCP has been aggressively attacking underground Catholic and Protestant house churches, first going after banned religious symbols and dismantling crosses,” he said. “More recently, they have been destroying churches openly.”

The CCP has been “arresting priests, threatening congregants, and searching churches and places of worship,” Chen wrote. “Many have disappeared and been tortured while under the regime’s control, refusing to relinquish their beliefs to a degraded, intolerant political party, and proving the power of their faith.”

In his essay, Chen contends that the CCP only allows certain religious practices and churches as “a façade of religious freedom to satisfy the West,” while in reality, it despises religious believers and uses the “concessions” to gain ever tighter control over its citizens.

The CCP is even preparing its own “edition” of the Bible, titled “The Chinese Christian Bible,” Chen said, whose purpose is “to force its socialist, secular values into the text while presenting a fiction of religious tolerance to the outside.”

The Vatican decision to “cede” selection of Catholic bishops to the CCP is “simply preposterous,” he added, and the agreement is “a blatantly political move designed only to serve the CCP’s interests.”

The pact represents a major “decline” for the Vatican, but more importantly, it equates to “bowing before evil, of selling God to the devil,” he argues.

“This will become yet another shameful episode whose stain the Catholic Church will be unable to cleanse,” Chen warns.

Last September, the Vatican announced the signing of a “provisional agreement” with China on the naming of bishops, without specifying the exact terms of the accord.

“The deal was touted as a first step toward restoring diplomatic relations between the two parties, but critics have complained that ceding authority on the naming of bishops simply emboldened the Chinese Communist Party to harsher persecution of those who will not bow to the secular power.”

Pope Francis attempted to “assuage” the doubts of Chinese Catholics and others concerned with the deal by writing a letter on September 26 to Catholics and China and “the universal Church,” urging them to trust him.

A Pact with a Thief, a Deal with the Devil
The Extremely High Stakes of the China-Vatican Deal
Pope admits underground Chinese Catholics will suffer after Vatican deal with Beijing
Pope: Chinese Bishops Should Show ‘Loyalty’ to Communist Party
Persecution of Catholics Ramping Up in Spite of China-Vatican Accord

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Bulldozing Mosques

Hawk-eyed social media users and international outlets confirmed using satellite images from services such as Google Earth, that several “iconic mosques” in China’s Muslim-majority province of Xinjiang no longer exist, suggesting that the communist government has launched a campaign to “raze” some of the region’s most culturally significant architecture.

China’s state-run Global Times declared China was in the process of establishing a “branch of Islam” that is “fitting Chinese culture,” and that the use of “internment” camps to force Muslims to “abandon” their faith or endure extensive “torture” was part of the process.

Under Communist Party chief Xi Jinping, the Chinese government has made the “indigenization” of religions – “changing the tenets of all faiths to conform with communist ideals” – a priority.

Uighur Muslims in China have long reported “state suppression,” but now they say repression is stronger than ever. Advocates for the Muslim minority say Uighurs are now being “rounded up” by the hundreds of thousands and put in “camps for assimilation.”

Beijing has for years targeted churches, bulldozing “houses of worship” nationwide and destroying thousands of “crosses” on buildings. In at least one instance, government officials “buried” Christians alive who refused to allow the “demolition” of their church.

Ding Cuimei suffocated after being buried alive. (ChinaAid.org)

Now, after having established “internment camps” for Uighur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and other ethnic minority Muslims in Xinjiang, evidence has surfaced that culturally significant Uighur “mosques” are no longer standing.

The accusations first surfaced on Twitter, where activist Shawn Zhang posted satellite images of the location where the 800-year-old “Keriya Aitika Mosque” was once located. The Keriya mosque was one of several in Xinjiang no longer appearing on the ground.

According to Forbes, the website Bellingcat picked up the claims and confirmed that at least two mosques “have undergone significant structural changes,” in Bellingcat’s words. Those structural changes appear to be complete destruction, but without visiting the site, such confirmation is impossible.

The “Keriya Aitika Mosque” located in the Uighur city of Hotan, appears to no longer exist, as does the mosque that used to serve the city of Kargilik. The latter mosque appears to have existed through 2017, but ceased functioning as a common mosque that year and instead served as a “propaganda hub” for the Chinese Communist Party.

An unnamed official told Radio Free Asia (RFA) in 2017, “We hold a flag-raising ceremony every Monday, and there is a flag flying on our mosque and ‘Love the Party, Love the Country’ banners as well. … We sing ‘Without the Communist Party, There is No New China.’”

Evidence suggests neither mosque exists as a building anymore, even as a propaganda center. The loss of the Keriya mosque is particularly “significant” given that, as the Turkish pro-Islamist newspaper Yeni Safak notes, it was inducted to the “Chinese Architectural Heritage” in late 2017.

The two mosques may be one of hundreds. Rachel Harris, writing for the Guardian, cited a 2017 report Sunday that suggest that as many as 200 Xinjiang mosques may have been “destroyed” that year with another 500 scheduled to be razed a year later. “Residents said that their local mosques had disappeared overnight, leveled without warning,” she wrote.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), in a report on mosques in Xinjiang, cited Hotan as one of the locations Chinese officials had targeted to destroy mosques in, according to local sources. The report said that locals were aware of a “campaign to destroy mosques as part of a wider crackdown on their religion.”

“During the campaign, authorities demolished thousands of mosques to ‘rectify’ the largely Muslim population, claiming that they were sorting out dilapidated buildings that posed a safety threat to worshipers in a bid to standardize and regulate the mosques,” according to RFA’s sources. RFA put their number of destroyed mosques much higher than Harris’s, at around 5,000.

Government officials are forcing thousands of churches to remove crosses, according to advocates. (China Aid)

The policy of destroying “religious” buildings had long taken shape elsewhere in the country against Christians. The campaign to “level” churches, or at least “destroy” the crosses that identify them as such, began under current Communist Party head Xi Jinping in 2014.

By 2016, researchers had compiled evidence that thousands of churches had lost their crosses. Some of the most prominent Christian churches did not “survive “even without their crosses, however.

In one prominent case, Chinese police destroyed a prominent church in Henan province despite the physical opposition of its members. Ding Cuimei, the wife of the pastor of the now-destroyed Beitou Church in Zhumadian, stood before the church and refused to move. Authorities bulldozed her along with the church, burying her alive.

In one instance, local authorities were pushed to delay plans to “demolish a new mosque” in northwest China after a rare “protest” by hundreds of Muslims from the ethnic Hui group.

Chinese police continued to use surprise raids to demolish popular houses of worship into 2018, including the century-old Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Henan.

Muslim ‘Re-Education’ Camps Needed to Prevent Another New Zealand Massacre
Protest saves mega‑Mosque from Beijing’s bulldozers

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Reporting “Illegal” Christian Practices

The city of Guangzhou in southern China is offering a substantial cash reward, worth about $1,500 in U.S. dollars, to citizens who report “illegal religious activities” and help authorities “crack down” on underground churches.

Warm approval for the program by Chinese media suggests the practice will spread to other cities as the Communist Party works to “Sinicize” – in other words, “subdue and control” – all religions.

China has embarked on a nationwide drive to Sinicize foreign religious traditions.

The South China Morning Post reported the government pays citizens extra money if their tips lead to the arrest of “non-Chinese religious leaders” or the shuttering of “foreign religious groups.”

Guangzhou began recruiting “snitches” after China’s religious regulations were rewritten to give more “power” to local officials.

The central government wants local officials to crack down on “unsanctioned religious venues, groups, institutions, activities, donations, training, and conferences” that could “endanger national security and disturb public order,”as the SCMP put it.

Ying Fuk-tsang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Divinity School of Chung Chi College “predicted” the Guangzhou program will “compress the survival space of house churches” because “not only will they have to deal with the official crackdown but now also the threat from their neighbors.”

Much of the crackdown has been directed at unregistered Protestant churches, which despite the restrictions have been flourishing across China.

The SCMP noted another district in China, the province of Henan, also has municipalities where financial “incentives” are offered to “whistle-blowers” who report unauthorized religious “gatherings” to the authorities.

China’s state-run Global Times “hailed” Guangzhou’s religious regulators as “pioneers” who are helping to shield China against the “increasing tendency among overseas forces to use religion to infiltrate into China and conduct activities that are intended to split and Westernize the country.”

Authorities in Guangzhou are offering up to 5,000 yuan for information leading to the closure of a foreign religious group.

South Korean religious groups were “singled out” as a particular concern.

100 Christians snatched in overnight raids on underground church

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Happy Easter 2019

Beautiful “Hallelujah” rendition of the one “Greatest Story Ever Told!” Thank you God for loving humanity so much that you came to live with us for a little while. In so doing, we might know that your very existence is “real.”

By coming to us, then laying down your human life and blood on the Altar of the Cross you paved the only way back to You and opened the “Gates of Heaven” to all who believe and obey your very doable commands. Thank Jesus for loving us all.

What caused the centurion to say: “Surely This Was a Righteous Man” (Luke 23:47) Now that you’ve watched the video, read more about what the centurion saw and heard. Decide for yourself why he responded as he did to the crucified Jesus. Visit: http://reasonsforhopejesus.com/surely…

I think George Handel might be a bit sad that he wasn’t given any credit for writing the first version of “Hallelujah” in his massive composition of “Messiah.”

The Royal Choral Society has performed Handel’s Messiah on Good Friday at the Royal Albert Hall every year since 1876. The RCS filmed their performance on 6 April 2012 by kind permission of the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This clip features the glorious Hallelujah Chorus.

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