Tag Archives: persecution

A Biblical View of Persecution

“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30-31).

In our last newsletter we “celebrated” the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party in China by looking back at some of their diabolical achievements. Throughout a century of death and destruction, the Lord Jesus Christ has shown ever brighter, resulting in more than 100 million people gladly surrendering their lives to Him. Jesus truly has been the Hero of the Century in China!

Sometimes at Asia Harvest we may become so focused on our work in Asia that we forget that many of the things we take for granted are astonishing to believers elsewhere. For example, someone recently emailed us, asking, “Are you guys aware that in China some Christian websites have been blocked by the government?” We smiled, because the Asia Harvest website has been blacklisted in China since 1998!

Read more at “A Biblical View of Persecution”

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Failed Propaganda

The persecution of religious minorities in China is a deadly serious affair, but the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda abroad sometimes looks more like a comedy. We at Bitter Winter were ourselves involved in a bizarre series of events, which can be read as a spy story but also as a piece of old-time vaudeville.

First, we should introduce the main characters. If you are reading this article, you probably know what Bitter Winter is all about. The respected American Protestant magazine World once called us “a thorn in the side” of the CCP. To remove the thorn, the CCP has arrested 45 of our reporters in China. It has also mobilized its fellow travelers in the West to attack us whenever possible.

If you read Bitter Winter, you also know the CCP, but most probably you don’t know a minor Belgian fellow traveler of that Party, a Belgian called Roland Delcourt, who is married to a Chinese and has been living in Shenzhen for “at least 20 years.” He gives interviews and writes propaganda letters in favor of the CCP that are published in the Chinese regime’s official organs, including the People’s Daily and the news agency Xinhua.

He is also a “cyber warrior” and posts on social media to defend the CCP, with a language that parrots, but goes beyond, the “wolf warrior” Chinese diplomats. For instance, he likes to play on the phonetic similarity between “Biden” and the French word “bidon” (phony), and calls the U.S. President, when he criticizes China, “a false democrat,” “the Yankee Gauleiter”, suggesting a comparison with “Nazi” war criminals, and “cholera” as Trump was the plague.

Read more at “False Documents Against Chinese Refugees and Bitter Winter”

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Sarah’s Journey for Christ!

Life abounds with crises, disappointments, mundane routines, and some very joyful moments. Everything that happens has a cause. We often don’t take time to reflect on purposes, or we simply explain events away with simplistic explanations of either good or bad luck. Totally unaware of real causes behind life events, we easily move on to the next day, the next week, and the next year.

In a gentle way, Sarah Liu leads the reader on a walk through events from her childhood in China and shows the hand print of God on these vignettes of her life. As she reflects on what God accomplished through joys, crises, disappointments, and ordinary family life, she invites readers to reflect on their own life experiences to detect the hand of God. Her conviction that God selects and covers with grace regardless of man’s perceptions runs throughout her stories and provides encouragement and inspiring faith and trust.

These books provides encouragement for anyone praying for a loved one to come to God, but also provides rich inspiration for those with pressing questions about the meaning and purpose of life’s crises and disappointments. Parents, pastors, ministers, teachers, and leaders would be inspired by this devotional written from a genuine passion to explore God’s present action in life’s daily events.

Sarah’s “Thirty Day Devotional” trilogy takes you back to a rural, impoverished China and the rise of the Christian faith (Vol. I), through an explosion of the gospel and the high price Sarah paid for spreading that message (Vol. II), and now, to her covert escape from China, to her final destination in a free America to continue to tell her story to the world.

Sarah’s story, I confess, is not unique, in that it happens a thousand times over. Persecution in China did not end with Sarah’s escape, but Sarah’s escape lends another strong voice for the world to hear.

Grace be with you as you listen to her story and read Sarah’s trilogy.

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The Church in China Today

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.

China demolishes hundreds of churches and confiscates Bibles during a crackdown on Christianity
China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President
What Christianity in China Is Really Like
China Just Made Life Way Harder for Christians
In Xi we trust – Is China cracking down on Christianity?
The Brutal Truth About Persecution of Christians in China
We are scared, but we have Jesus

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The Crisis in China (Part One)

Re-posted from Asia Harvest Ministry

The Worst Persecution in 40 Years

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” John 15:18-19, 21 NIV.

Earlier this year we sent out a newsletter entitled “Pray for Christians in Chinawhich told of the massive and brutal persecution of Christians underway in China. Many people were shocked by what we shared, and some even doubted if it was true, as other sources weren’t reporting the trouble.

In the following months it became clear that God’s people in China are not merely going through a regular season of hardship, but a major effort is underway to completely control the Church, backed by new technology that creates challenges to the Body of Christ that have never been encountered before. In this newsletter we will update you on the crisis in China, while attempting to answer some of the common questions people have asked.

What’s the Latest News from China?

In recent months the government has markedly increased the pressure on Christians throughout the country. We received an unconfirmed report from a long-term China missionary stating that 314 house church Christians have been killed in recent months, and hundreds more are missing. Most house church leaders have gone into hiding and have disconnected their phones and other devices because of the incredible surveillance capabilities of the state.

Thousands of house churches (which are considered illegal in China) have been closed. Reflecting the actions of Mao’s Red Guards in the 1960s, religious symbols such as crosses and Scripture posters have been torn down and replaced by flags of China or portraits of President Xi Jinping.

Some congregations have been ordered to sing the national anthem or other patriotic songs at the start of their services. Others have been ordered to install government facial-recognition surveillance cameras inside their worship halls, and those that have refused to comply have been forced to shut down.

Landlords who rent buildings to Christians are being heavily fined by the government, with new laws allowing fines of between 20,000 to 200,000 Yuan (almost US$30,000). This has created a climate of fear and suspicion, and thousands of fellowships have been forced out of the premises they were renting. On the streets, the police have the power to stop and search anyone they wish and to check their phones and other devices for content they deem a threat to society. These threats may include the presence of a Bible app or visits to Christian websites, or any communication considered unpatriotic.

The most severe persecution is occurring in the vast Xinjiang region in northwest China. In recent years a promising church movement had emerged among the Uyghur, Kazakh and Kirghiz people groups, but most of the church leaders have been arrested and taken to concentration camps in the desert. Reputable news organizations estimate at least one million people are being detained and tortured in those camps right now. Many suburbs in cities like Urumqi, Hami and Kashgar are now depopulated and countless buildings have been boarded up. Although this initiative was designed to target Muslims in border areas, almost all Uygur and Kazakh church leaders have also been taken away. The government doesn’t care whether someone is a Muslim or Christian. It’s all the same to them.

Spiritual Forces Behind the Persecution

While there are human reasons for the dramatic persecution, we should never lose sight of the fact that Satan and his fallen hosts hate God’s people, and they never rest in trying to destroy them. We recently updated our Christian stats for all 2,866 cities and counties in China, and the end result was a marked increase since the last time we reviewed our figures. Currently, we estimate a total of 129.7 million professing Christians in China, of which 109 million are Evangelical believers. The Chinese government is fully aware of the explosive growth of the Church in China, and they are determined to stop it. They don’t want China taking over from South Korea as the number one Evangelical country in Asia.

Political Ambitions

If you have read our Asia Harvest newsletters for some time you will know we don’t usually mention politics at all, as our call is to equip the Church in Asia and not to be entangled by civilian affairs (2 Timothy 2:4). Our goal is not to favor one political system over another, but to see all people groups of Asia hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If one quote sums up what we think about politics, it would be this famous one from an economist in the last century: “Under Communism man oppresses man. Under capitalism it’s the other way around.”

To understand the human reasons of why China is so determined to destroy the Church, however, it’s helpful to grasp the historical background behind China’s geopolitical ambitions. Starting in the 1800s, China was dominated by foreign powers that carved up various parts of the country and exploited their natural resources. The Chinese consider this the darkest period in their history, and have labelled it “The century of humiliation.” Chinese resentment and desire to revenge their “loss of face” runs deep. Japan was one of the foreign nations that dominated China during this period, inflicting shameful cruelties on the Chinese people. A few years ago a survey in China found that 82 percent of respondents said China should launch a war with Japan before the end of this decade.

In a bid to try to erase the painful memories of the past, China believes they have an opportunity to be the new world super-power, replacing the United States and the West. To achieve this lofty goal, President Xi Jinping has stopped at nothing to implement his “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which would result in China having the most powerful economy and military on earth. To help him succeed, earlier this year Xi was appointed “President for life.” Whereas often in the West we think in terms of months and years, the Chinese think in terms of decades and even centuries. They are not in a rush, and are determined to gradually work their way toward becoming the undisputed world power.

The Communist leaders trying so desperately to implement their global vision are God-hating atheists, and they are determined not to let anyone or anything stand in their way. They want absolute power over what people do, say and think, and Christians, Muslims, or anyone else who may pose a threat to their goals are being subdued, controlled, or eradicated. These are the reasons behind the current campaign to wipe out the Church in China. Mao tried to do this from the 1950s to 1970s, and Xi Jinping seems determined to finish the job that Mao failed to do.

Is Persecution always Good for the Church?

Many times you have probably heard it said that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Often people have written to us with this quote, as if it is the sum total of persecution for Christians. It may surprise some to learn that this phrase is not in the Bible at all, but was spoken by Tertullian, a second century church leader in North Africa. For the record, Tertullian’s full quote was: “The more ye mow us down, the more quickly we grow; the blood of Christians is seed. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Dying we conquer. The moment we are crushed, that moment we go forth victorious.”

Is what Tertullian said true? Is persecution always good for the Church, and does it invariably result in the expansion of the faith? We believe that while Tertullian’s quote may be generally true, it is certainly not always the case.

Persecution in itself does not bring revival. It is a time of testing, and over the years we have known many church leaders in China, Vietnam and elsewhere who have gone through fiery trials, but instead of coming out of prison renewed and more zealous for the Lord, many have emerged spiritually weaker and overcome by sins and temptations. Sadly, we know of some former church leaders who are no longer walking with God. In the 1930s a missionary in northeast China stated, “The blood of martyrs may indeed be the seed of the Church, but sometimes the crop from that seed is not always a good one.”

A survey of Church history clearly reveals that persecution does not automatically result in the growth of Christianity. The nations of Central Asia and the Middle East once contained as many as 30 million Christians, but the Islamic conquests of the region wiped out the Church in numerous locations, many of which have yet to see any more spiritual light for over 1,000 years to the present day.

In this first of two newsletters on the Crisis in China we wanted to update readers on the latest challenges facing our Christian brothers and sisters there. Next month we will share more on how these tumultuous events are affecting Christian work in China, and we will include a public statement made by many church leaders. Be assured that despite these new challenges all Asia Harvest projects in China are continuing! Church leaders have cried out to the Lord for heavenly strategies, and are implementing what God has told them to do. Please pray fervently for the Church in China!

Links to articles:
Updated: Large Beijing house church banned as China continues Christian persecution
Inmates initiate hunger strike amid mass incarceration crackdown
China Uighurs: Xinjiang legalizes ‘re-education’ camps
Leave no dark corner

Please feel free to share this message with any concerned believers, or post it on social media.

Until All have Heard of Jesus,
The team at Asia Harvest
www.asiaharvest.org

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

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Pray for Christians in China

Re-posted from Asia Harvest Ministry

Dear Friends,

For decades we have striven to openly share news and prayer requests from Asia, as we seek to help God’s people extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ. In this newsletter we have a deep burden to share with you, and we ask for your fervent prayers and intercession for our brothers and sisters in the Chinese house churches. They are now undergoing a “fiery trial” that is more fierce than anything experienced in China since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.

In the past 18 months, the situation for Christians in China has “dramatically” worsened. At the start, we hesitated to publicly share new information from China for a few reasons. Some of the news we have received from church leaders is so dire that most believers around the world simply wouldn’t believe it if we told them. We also wanted to make sure these things were not part of a “short-term crackdown” as over the years we have seen numerous seasons of “persecution” come and go in China. However, we believe it is now time to present the known facts, to help people understand what our fellow believers are experiencing right now.

We have also shared several links to web pages in this message, to help people learn more about the situation from other sources. Please take the time to read these articles.

* President Xi Jinping—who is about to have the constitution amended so he can remain in power for as long as he wishes—first raised concerns among Christians about three years ago when he spoke about the need to control “illegal religion.” Persecution has markedly worsened since then, and hundreds of house church pastors have vanished over the past few years. Many are assumed to have been killed. Others may be held in “black jails” — secret facilities where they are tortured mercilessly. When someone enters a black jail they are usually never heard from again. Their families have no idea of their whereabouts, and all communication ceases.

* You are unlikely to hear much fresh information from the Church in China, because most mission organizations working in China have been targeted in recent years. Thousands of foreign Christians have been expelled from the country, while the large “persecution” ministries have seen their Chinese contacts arrested. The result is that news about the Church in China is becoming difficult to access. The government appears to be trying to throw a blanket over the Church, so that the rest of the world can’t see or hear what’s going on inside the country.

* Christian activity in China has been strictly monitored, due to the presence of tens of millions of facial- recognition cameras that have sprung up in every city and town, and now even in villages. The data from these cameras is fed into a massive computer network around the clock. Using “artificial intelligence” alerts are sent to the police if the computers detect any suspicious activity, such as a group of Christians gathering at a location for worship or Bible study. We encourage you to watch the following short video from the BBC. It is sobering, but will help you understand the challenges facing our brothers and sisters in China: In Your Face: “China’s all-seeing state.”

* For decades, most members of Three-Self churches in China thought they were safe because they had registered with the government. Many looked down on the illegal house church networks and chided them for not “obeying the laws of the land.” The distinctions between the two groups are now blurred. Hundreds of Three-Self pastors have also been arrested in the last few years, and church buildings have been demolished by special paramilitary forces. The largest single worship center in China, the Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province, had a congregation of more than 50,000 members. The building, which was constructed with official permission, was recently blown up by the Chinese authorities and is now a pile of rubble.

* Last year the government announced draconian new laws designed to punish “illegal religion” (i.e. all worship or activity outside the control of the atheistic Communist Party). These new laws, which came into force last month, include fines of up to US$30,000 for holding prayer meetings or Bible studies, while Christians who travel out of the country (including to Hong Kong) to attend conferences or other Christian events may be arrested and fined up to US$50,000. These amounts are more than a lifetime’s income for many Chinese believers. Pressure is also being applied to those who associate with Christians. For example, landlords face heavy fines if they rent a property to any believers who subsequently use it for meetings.

* As a result of this massive suppression, in the past year almost all house church networks we serve have stopped holding large gatherings, and most have broken down into tiny groups of no more than 4 or 5 believers. Even small meetings like this carry risk of detection and police action, so great is the control being exerted.

* In some parts of the country, thousands of Chinese Christians have been arrested. The worst of all is in northwest China, where the government has cast a wide net to demolish the threat of Islam, with at least 120,000 people currently believed to be held in re-education concentration camps in the Xinjiang region. Many Christians in Xinjiang, both Han Chinese and ethnic minority believers, have been rounded up and sent to the same concentration camps. Church leaders we work with have told us things there are “worse than during the Cultural Revolution.”

* The supply of Bibles to Chinese Christians has been severely reduced. The house churches have never been officially allowed to access Bibles, but now the registered churches are also reporting a great shortage. Last year, the few remaining Bible courier ministries that were operating from Hong Kong also closed down. A decade ago, Asia Harvest was one of about a dozen known ministries providing Bibles to the house churches of China. Most of those groups have since been forced out of the country through threats, intimidation, seduction, and other means.

* We have received reports of some who carried Bibles into China recently being stopped at the border. In the past, officials would confiscate the Bibles and allow the person to continue on their journey. Now, those caught with Chinese Bibles have been interrogated for up to 12 hours, expelled from China, and banned from coming back for 10 years. We believe the overall purpose is to isolate the children of God in China by strangling the supply of God’s Word. Many Chinese Christian websites, Bible apps and other resources have also been blocked by the government.

* China is also extending its anti-Christian influence into neighboring countries. We have received reports of believers in Nepal, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam being warned not to spread the Gospel across their borders into China, or they will face severe consequences.

Summary: Few Christians around the world imagined that China would ever return to its intense anti-Christian persecutions like during Mao’s rule, but things are lining up for a brutal and prolonged period of struggle for Christians in China. In many ways, because of new technology, believers face an even greater challenge than during the dark days of the Cultural Revolution. Many in the West thought that Communism collapsed with the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Politicians were certain that free market reforms would cause China to open up and embrace democracy. They were wrong. The dark forces of aggressive, God-hating atheism are alive and well in China, North Korea, and other parts of the world.

Please Pray for China:

* Praise God that He has done a wonderful work of grace in China during nearly 70 years of Communist rule! Today there are more than 100 million Christians in the country, many of whom love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts and are willing to lay down their lives for the Gospel. Pray this persecution will cause the Church to rise up and claim even more of their country for the kingdom of God.

* Please pray the kingdom of Jesus Christ would be strengthened and would grow even larger as a result of the current anti-Christian campaign. Pray that Satan would not have his way, but that God’s children would be covered by the Blood of Jesus and would come through the tribulations refined like pure gold.

* Ask God to glorify His Name once again among the people of China, and that by breaking down into tiny groups of believers, the churches will get back to the basics of the faith and introduce more people to the Lord than ever before.

* Most of the younger generation of Christian leaders in China have never experienced severe, physical persecution. Understandably, many are nervous. Please pray our Heavenly Father would reveal Christ’s all-sufficiency to them, and they would come through to the other side closer to God and better equipped to lead His people.

* Pray the Holy Spirit would give His children heavenly wisdom and strategies to know what to do in this crisis, and that the transformative power of the Gospel will continue to be shared to the one billion people in China who have not yet bowed their knee to the Lord.

* By God’s hand, Asia Harvest has provided almost 11 million Bibles to the house churches in China over the years. We wish it was many millions more! The pressure is intense, but please pray the Lord will continue to hold open the door for us to continue. Please intercede for our Chinese co-workers who oversee the projects. As long as there is a slight opening, we want to faithfully continue to obey what God first called us to do 30 years ago.

* Satan and wicked men have continually tried to destroy God’s people in China over the centuries, but God’s plans have progressed regardless. Pray the King of Kings would confound the present generation of rulers, and they would learn the lesson that many before have discovered, dating back to the time of Pharaoh’s persecution of God’s children, when the Bible says, “The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelis” (Exodus 1:12).

Please feel free to share this message with any concerned believers, or to post it on social media.

Until All have Heard of Jesus,
The team at Asia Harvest
www.asiaharvest.org

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

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A Gathering Storm

Re-posted from Asia Harvest Ministry

A Gathering Storm – Asian Christians Brace for Persecution

Massive persecution is brewing across Asia.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.” John 15:18-23

In terms of influence for the Gospel and where Asia Harvest invests the most resources, the three main countries we work in are China, India and Nepal. Many Christians are unaware that in each of those countries, dark and foreboding storm clouds of persecution have been gathering on the horizon, and are now starting to break forth on the followers of Jesus Christ.

Thankfully, the Lord never hid the truth from His children. In the Gospels, including the above verses, Jesus told us to expect to suffer and be hated for being His disciples. That is the normal Christian life. For many centuries, believers understood that to be identified as a Christian equated to a death sentence, and the Church grew in leaps and bounds. In recent decades, however, a false gospel has arisen in the West, which has spread to Asia and around the world.

This false gospel teaches that if we follow Jesus we can expect great blessings, ever-increasing rewards in this life, and that we will be overwhelmed with happiness and good times, all because “God loves us so much.”

A number of years ago we were honored to write “The Heavenly Man” which told the story of the intense suffering and endurance of a Chinese Christian named Brother Yun. Although multitudes of believers around the globe were deeply encouraged and strengthened in their faith after reading his testimony, others were angry and rejected it. One large American denomination, with thousands of churches, banned the book from their bookstores, because its message of faith amid persecution didn’t match their narrative that Christians are destined to only experience “success” in this life.

We know of many Christians who embraced this false message, and now their lives are ruined, swamped by sin, and they have grown disillusioned by the daily grind that comes from following Jesus in a sinful and demonized world.

The good news is that the Lord helped prepare us for suffering. He promised, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:32-33

Let’s take a brief look at some recent developments in Asia, and we ask you to pray for your brothers and sisters in each country. Please “remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:3

China 

While many Christians around the world have believed the lie that persecution of Christians is something in China’s distant history, house church believers throughout the country continue to experience extreme hardship. Church leaders in some parts of China say that persecution is now the worst since the 1960s and 1970s.

The current wave of brutality against God’s people began about two years ago, when President Xi Jinping announced his government was cracking down on religion. To start with, hundreds of foreign Christians who were living in China as students, teachers, businessmen and the like had their visas revoked. They were expelled permanently from the country, including more than 150 workers affiliated with one mission alone. Many of them were faithful believers who had served many years in China.

Last year, President Xi summoned a small group of prominent house church leaders to Beijing for a personal meeting. Although the contents of that meeting have been kept strictly confidential, within weeks severe persecution broke out against the unregistered house church movements throughout the country. The attacks started as discrimination. At first, Christians were hassled, lost their jobs, or were blocked from entering university. As time progressed the heat has been turned up, and this year we have received reports of many church leaders and evangelists being bundled into unmarked vehicles, not to be seen again.

Various reports have reached us from China of harsh and widespread persecution. One tribal pastor in the remote mountains of southwest China was recently beaten to death for his faith.

Please pray God will continue to be glorified through His Church in China. For more than half a century the Holy Spirit has moved powerfully throughout the land, saving more than 100 million people and setting them apart for His glorious kingdom. The atheist Communist authorities have always hated the Church and wanted to destroy it, but the Lord Jesus has laughed at their plans and has gathered a huge harvest.

Please pray the harvest in China would continue to be gathered, until He who sits on the throne of heaven returns to wreak vengeance on the nations for their wicked deeds. All the wrath of men will amount to nothing in the end, as we all bow our knees before the King of Kings who declared, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath” Psalm 2:1-5

India 

India, which in a few years is poised to overtake China as the world’s most populated country, has generally left Christians alone in the past, as they have been a tiny minority among countless millions of Hindus.

In the last twenty years, however, the situation has changed, with a rapidly increasing number of Christians causing alarm to the authorities. At the same, groups of fundamentalist Hindus have emerged, threatening to kill Christians and destroy the rise of Christianity. One of the most powerful of these groups is called the RSS. They are implicitly backed by the Indian government, and have published detailed plans of how to eliminate Christian communities, including sending Hindu doctors to sterilize Christian girls so that they will never be able to have children.

Please pray that the Living God would continue to be glorified throughout India through His redeemed children. Intercede so that Satan and his plans would come to nothing, but the Name of Jesus Christ will be lifted up over every people group in India.

Nepal 

Nepal, the Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between the two giants of China and India, also recently launched a major crackdown. On August 8th, the parliament passed a new “anti-conversion” law which is obviously aimed at Christians, since hundreds of thousands of Nepalese have eagerly pressed into the kingdom of God in the last few decades. This has caused other religious leaders to fume with envy as sin-bound people experience the forgiveness and freedom of life in Jesus.

The new law carries a sentence of up to five years in prison for anyone caught influencing another person to change religions, while a second part of the vague legislation makes it an offense to “hurt the religious sentiment” of another person or community. This charge carries a two year prison sentence. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nepal.

Thousands of years ago another earthly ruler arrogantly stood up against God’s purposes, so for seven years the Lord turned him into a cow! King Nebuchadnezzar finally learned a lesson that the leaders of China, India and Nepal will also need to learn. The humbled king declared, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” Daniel 4:34-35

Our Response: Elijah or Jesus? 

Over the years the Church in many parts of Asia has faced intense pressure and seasons of persecution. Believers in other parts of the world now feel similar storm clouds gathering on the horizon in their countries.

We have learned a few things about how to deal with intimidation and threats, which we hope you may find useful. First, it’s crucial not to give in to fear and anxiety, but to remain calm and focused on Jesus, daily meditating on the Word of God. Satan loves nothing more than to intimidate believers into a state of immobility.

Two men in the Bible were the targets of intimidation as evil-doers sought to stop their work. The way they responded could not have been more different. One man responded wrongly, while the other man responded how God wants us to.

Elijah was threatened by the wicked Queen Jezebel, who vowed to cut off his head. The prophet was terrified and fled into the desert, where he prayed that he might die. “’I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors’” 1 Kings 19:4. A short time later he was instructed to anoint Elisha to succeed him in the ministry.

The second man who was the subject of attempted intimidation was the Lord Jesus. When He was told to be on guard because Herod wanted to kill him and stop His good works, Jesus responded with great boldness and without a hint of fear: “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’” Luke 13:32

By God’s grace, the attitude of those we serve in China, India and Nepal will be the same as that demonstrated by the Lord. The Gospel must continue to go forward, because the sun is still up and there is much work to do! Jesus taught, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” John 9:4

In the meantime we plan to keep marching forward with our vision securely fixed on Jesus Christ, as we continue to print and distribute tons of Bibles in many languages. By God’s grace and provision we will also continue to support as many evangelists among unreached people groups as we can.

We invite you to join us in helping the kingdom of God continue to advance throughout Asia.

Please feel free to share this message with any concerned believers, or post it on social media.

Until All have Heard of Jesus,
The team at Asia Harvest
www.asiaharvest.org

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Underground Church

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Last weekend was the “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church,” an annual day to put special emphasis on “praying” for the persecuted Church.

Remembering the “persecuted” church around the globe should be a “continual” effort for all Christians. We need to continually “remind” ourselves that our brothers and sisters are “beaten, jailed, or even killed” for their faith.

One “group” in particular that we need to remember to pray for is the “underground church” in China.

In this brief video by Deidox Films, Li Yang provides a “glimpse” into an underground home church.

In this short addendum, Li Yang answers the question, “Is Christianity legal or illegal in China?”

He explains why the question is “difficult” to answer and how the Chinese government “protects” its Communist ideology from the perceived “threat” of Christianity.

Comment by Todd Johnson:

We as Americans have NO sense of what persecution truly is. We view it from afar, in videos and on the nightly news as something others endure as we live in our religious oasis. While we fight to retain the gift of religious freedoms granted in our constitutional republic, we can never forget that our ‘plight’ pales compared to those across the globe. How many of us would endure torture for Christ and not give up our fellow Christians?

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me.”
I only pray that this crucible of persecution, which the Church and Christians are experiencing in China, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, is strengthening His disciples as the foundation for the growth there yet to come.

Each of us, safe in our church communities, must view minor challenges against faith as gifts, for our prideful demonstrations in our strength of faith, simply mask the weakness within and He knows we cannot endure more.

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Lin Xingiao Legacy

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Chinese House Church Leader Goes Home (Samuel Lamb, 1924-2013)

Every Sunday after the service, Chinese pastor Samuel Lamb (also known as Samuel Lam) invited foreign guests into his office and immediately began to tell the story of his life, which he summarized in the one holy principle: “More persecution, more growth.”

Lamb experienced Communist oppression and spent more than 20 years in prison. He also experienced God’s response: “an amazing growth of the Church” in China.

Lamb became a hero of the Christian faith for millions of believers inside and outside of China. He passed away on Saturday August 3, 2013 at the age of 88. His wife died in 1977, the year before he was released from prison.

Samuel Lamb (Lin Xingiao in Chinese) was born in a mountainous area overlooking Macau. His father pastored a small Baptist church. Lamb was raised as a Christian and preached his first sermon at age 19. He was first arrested in 1955, during one of the first big waves of persecution under the dictatorship of Chairman Mao.

After two years’ imprisonment, Lamb was released, but then rearrested in 1958, this time for a twenty year sentence. He spent 20 gruesome years in labor camps, where he mostly worked in coal mines. Despite the harsh punishments, Lamb continued preach and teach to other prisoners.

The main reason Lamb was targeted by the government was his refusal to merge his illegal house church into the Three Self Patriotic Movement, the state controlled Protestant Church. The government used to forbid Christian leaders to preach about the second coming of Christ and to teach minors under 18 years old. China basically made the state church evolve around the state and not around God.

In 1979, Lamb restarted his house church at 35 Da Ma Zhan in Guangzhou. Attendance grew quickly, and he moved his congregation to a bigger building in the same city. Now his urban house church is still unregistered but tolerated by the authorities. The church has over 4,000 attendees each week with four services.

Lamb’s theology challenged the government, the attendees of his church, as well as other believers inside and outside China. He taught that Christians should obey the government unless those leaders directly opposed God with their law enforcement. “The laws of God are more important than the laws of man,” he said.

Lamb also believed that persecution caused the church to grow spiritually and numerically. During the decades of Lamb’s ministry, the church in China has grown from a few million people in the 1950’s till today, when it numbers anywhere from 80 million upwards, with many secret believers within the ranks of the Communist Party.

Suffering played an import part in many of Lamb’s sermons. He repeated, “More persecution, more growth.” That phrase had not only to do with numbers of believers, but also with spiritual growth.

“I can understand Job’s victories and Job’s defeats,” he often said. “It taught me that grumbling does not help. Not against God and not against those who persecuted me. My dear wife died while I was in prison. I was not allowed to attend her funeral. It was like an arrow of the Almighty, until I understood that God allows the pain, the loss, the torture; but we must grow through it.”

Lamb always remained cautious about the government. Even though his congregation was still illegal, it hasn’t been raided in years. He revealed in an interview last year that the police in Guangzhou were actually unofficially giving newcomers directions to his church now!

But Lamb still wanted to make sure that Christians did not too easily assume that nothing would ever happen to them and always warned, “We must be prepared to suffer. We must be prepared for the fact that we may be arrested.”

“People are still being arrested. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Today the authorities are not bothering us. But tomorrow, things may be different. I pray that we will receive the strength to stand firm.”

In the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, Lamb proved to be a reliable partner for overseas ministries. Through his network, over 200,000 pieces of Christian literature were delivered to Chinese believers.

“The death of Samuel Lamb leaves a hole in the Chinese Church.” Together with other heroes of faith like Wang Mindao and Allen Yuan, he symbolized the brave faith of a Church that grew at an unprecedented speed in world history. Long after his passing it will be said in many churches that more persecution only has one outcome: “more growth.”

“Before I was sent to prison, I already prepared a bag with some clothes, shoes, and a toothbrush. When I had to go to the police station, I could just pick it up. I was ready.” No more prison bags for Samuel Lamb.

Like Paul, who also suffered for the sake of Christ, Lamb can say that he has fought the “good” fight, he has “finished” the race, and he has “kept” the faith. Lamb has gone home.

Pray for Lamb’s family, friends, and congregation. Pray for Chinese Christians to thrive and be bold witnesses for their faith, as Pastor Lamb was.

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House Churches

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Excerpts from How China plans to wipe out House Churches

Incidents of persecution of Christians rose by about 42 percent last year compared with 2011, according to the report by human rights group China Aid.

Many of these incidents involved groups of Christians. In total, the number of individual persecuted Christians rose by roughly 14 percent and total individual detentions increased by nearly 12 percent.

China Aid said overall total persecution in six categories was about 13 percent worse than in 2011 — though China Aid termed its statistics just “the tip of the iceberg.”

At least 132 incidents of persecution affecting 4,919 Christians — 442 of whom were clergy — were reported in the country last year, according to China Aid’s annual report. The Texas-based group tracked detention of at least 1,441 Christians, the sentencing of nine of them, and the abuse (verbal, mental and physical, including beatings and torture) of 37 Christians.

The recent appointment of Xi Jinping as the new leader of China’s Communist Party has made no difference in treatment of Christians, said a member of the Shouwang Church in Beijing, a congregation authorities have harassed for more than two years.

The continued rise of persecution is not the only dynamic raising serious concerns; authorities have targeted unregistered house churches in a planned manner….In 2008 and 2009, officials “targeted house church leaders and churches in urban areas,” China Aid notes.

In 2010, they “attacked Christian human rights lawyers groups and using abuse, torture and mafia tactics.”

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The focus in 2011 was on increasing the intensity of attacks against Christians and house churches.

In 2012, a new three-phase approach was adopted to wipe out unregistered house churches, which the government saw as a hostile group of dissenters, and force them to join the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church system.

In the first phase, from January 2012 to June, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) secretly investigated house churches across the country and created files on them, the report says.

This was followed by a wave of crackdowns on house churches, which has continued into 2013, as part of the second phase. The second phase will also entail strongly encouraging unregistered churches to become part of the TSPM at which point they would become known as “house gatherings,” with the government banning the term “house churches.”

Some house churches have registered with authorities to avoid arrests and harassment, but most do not as they object to the beliefs and controls of some TPSM leaders. Barriers to evangelical churches registering with the TSPM include theological differences, adverse consequences if they reveal names and addresses of church leaders or members, and government control of sermon content.

The number of Protestant house-church Christians has been estimated at between 45 million and 60 million.

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The third phase is expected to begin from 2015 through to 2025, when the government would shut down house churches that do not comply with the requirement to join the TSPM, according to a joint-memo issued in September 2011 by SARA and the ministries of public security and civil affairs, the report says.

With this objective in mind, authorities in 2012 stepped up long-time tactics of banning and sealing churches, pressuring churches to join the official Three-Self structure, detaining church leaders and sending them to labor camps on the pretext of “suspicion of organizing and using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” and strictly restricting the spread of the Christian faith among students, the report points out.

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