We must remember the persecuted church in China:
Out of sight, out of mind is a big problem for many people, including Christians. We in the comfortable West tend to ignore our brothers and sisters who are suffering greatly elsewhere. Yet we should be fully aware of them and praying for them at the very least.
As we read in Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Not only must we keep persecuted believers in remembrance, but we must also understand that what is happening to them may soon enough be happening to us.
Consider the nation of China, where horrific persecution of Christians is taking place. The West is not there yet in terms of such anti-Christian bigotry and hatred, but it is slowly getting there. The social credit system in China for example seems now to be a model for many Western governments. So we better be aware of what is happening elsewhere.
Here I will draw upon three recent articles on the situation in China to help give you some idea of what is happening there. Let me begin with a report from Open Doors, which is a ministry to the persecuted church:
China’s growing Christian community currently stands at around 96.7 million – just under seven per cent of the country’s total population. The church in China continues to enjoy strong growth; however, life for Christians is anything but straightforward. The policy of “Sinicizing” the church is implemented across the country, as the Communist Party relies strongly on Chinese cultural identity to stay in power and limits whatever it perceives as a threat to its control on society.
New restrictions on the internet, social media and non-governmental organizations, and 2018 regulations on religion are strictly applied and seriously limit freedom. Churches are being monitored and closed down, whether they are independent or part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
And it’s not just the introduction of new laws that impinge on Christian activity, it’s also the stricter implementation of already existing laws, such as the ban on the online sale of Bibles. On a more local level, if a convert from Islam or Buddhism is discovered by their community and family, they are likely to face threats and physical harm – all in an effort to win them back. Spouses may be forced to divorce. Neighbours and the community may even report the practice of Christian activities to the authorities, who could take action to stop them….
Thousands of churches have been damaged or destroyed, some confiscated, in a campaign that has spread to almost every region of the country. Crosses have also been removed from churches. Meanwhile, laws on regulating religion, which were introduced in February 2018 and enhanced in February 2020, continue being rolled out in an increasing number of provinces.
There are reports that citizens are being financially rewarded for disclosing information on Christians and other minorities to the authorities. This reflects the determination of the Communist Party to exert its control over all areas of life. www.opendoors.org/en-US/persecution/countries/china/
Another article discusses some of these matters in more detail:
Recently, a local authority in northeastern China announced financial rewards to people who report “illegal religious activities”. The Meilisi Daur District United Front Work Department of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, released “The Reward System For Reporting Illegal Religious Activities Offences” on Monday, saying that informants could be paid up to 1,000 yuan (US$150) for tips about illicit foreign infiltration.
Under the new reward scheme in Qiqihar, whistle-blowers can earn from 500 to 1,000 yuan for reports about unqualified religious personnel, unauthorized trans-regional activities, preaching and distributing printed religious works, audio-visual products outside places of worship, unauthorized donations, or private house gatherings, according to the statement.
The measures aim to “strengthen the control of illegal religious activities in the district, prevent any COVID-19 cluster resulting from religious gatherings, mobilize the public to engage in preventing, suppressing illegal religious activities, and ensure a harmonious and stable religious landscape”, the announcement said.
Reporting can be made through phone calls, emails, and letters. Similar reward systems were also offered by the Boshan District in Zibo the next day, and Weihai City, Shandong, on August 8, respectively.
The latter stated that unauthorized religious training and summer or winter camps attended by minors, or any evangelistic activity for “parenting purposes”, should be reported. Unapproved Internet religious information, religious donation campaigns that violate the law, and charitable activities for evangelism would be also included. chinachristiandaily.com/news/china/2021-08-13/chinese-cities–counties-offer-rewards-for-reporting–illegal-religious-activities-_10441
Finally, another writer speaks of the “Scandalous Silence About China’s Christians”. He begins:
China has become an international criminal for its human rights violations, specifically for its internment of Uyghur Muslims in the so-called reeducation camps in the Xinjiang province, as well as for its gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that very likely created and diffused Covid-19 throughout the world. Yet, scandalously, whether it is from Hollywood or professional sports, to say nothing of many politicians and the mainstream media, criticizing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has become all but taboo.
What is even more scandalous, however, is that so little is being said or reported about the crackdown on Chinese Christians. Just this past month, the CCP arrested dozens at the Christian Abeka Academy in Suzhou, including children and parents. According to Asia News, the police took action against a Christian music school in Harbin because it offered after-school courses.
In 2020, under the regime of Chairman Xi Jinping, the policy to sinicize the Christian population has included: the removal of over 900 crosses from churches; the confiscation of Bibles across China as the police raided and closed down many house churches, including state-run churches; churches were also bulldozed and destroyed; and for the first time in 40 years, as attested by Bob (Xiqiu) Fu, a Chinese Christian who fled to the United States, the demand for Christian children to renounce their faith, simultaneously prohibiting them from reading or hearing the Bible read to them by their parents.
Beijing has also printed versions of the Bible for government-run schools that distort gospel narratives, such as that of Jesus forgiving the adulteress woman as accounted in the Gospel of John. In the sinicized account of the episode, Jesus instead stones her, saying: “I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.”
The Chinese constitution, while officially providing its citizens “religious freedom,” has long held Christianity in suspicion because of its promotion of Western values and human rights. This is the reason why the CCP restricts religious activities to only government-sanctioned organizations, which are infiltrated by Communists, and registered places of worship.
In reality, Chinese Christians, especially those from the “underground” Catholic Church, have been imprisoned, tortured, and in many instances killed, since the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. These Catholics, for example, can publicly practice their faith provided they submit to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, founded in 1957. It was eventually recognized by the Vatican in a 2018 provisional agreement, which was renewed in 2020. Accordingly, the CCP names or appoints bishops for its state church, and the Bishop of Rome approves thereafter. The CCP also runs one for Protestants, the Three-Self Church.
He concludes with these words:
Yet how has the Biden administration responded to the persecution of Chinese Christians? It has not responded at all. In fact, under President Joe Biden, the CCP’s drive to subjugate or even eliminate Christians has gone unchecked and escalated. The Biden administration has ignored the Chinese persecution of Christians; the same can be said of the Vatican.
The State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report (2021) did include Chinese Christians as victims of the CCP’s ongoing suppression of religious freedom. However, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to reporters on the findings, he favored the aforementioned Uyghurs, not mentioning Christians at all: “China broadly criminalizes religious expression and continues to commit crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”
This is a different approach from the Trump administration, when last year then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted the unfortunate fate of Chinese Christians: “Catholic churches and shrines have been desecrated and destroyed. Catholic bishops like Augustine Cui Tai have been imprisoned. And Catholic lay leaders in the human rights movement, not least in Hong Kong, have been arrested. Authorities order residents to replace pictures of Jesus with those of Chairman Mao and those of General Secretary Xi Jinping.”
The deafening silence of American media and the Biden administration regarding the CCP’s persecution of Chinese Christians is scandalous, at best. www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/scandalous-silence-about-chinas-christians/
Please keep praying for the suffering Christians in China. If you need some help in how to pray for persecuted believers, consider what is found here: www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/5-powerful-prayers-persecuted-scripture/
And please become involved in some of these ministries that focus on the persecuted church, such as: