INTERNATIONAL SITUATION REPORTS
Christian Persecution in China
from Ron Pearce
The situation for the Church in China is changing rapidly. I want to bring you up to date on the current conditions as well as explain Empower’s emphasis, in regards to this serious news. As you read this stunning synopsis, please be in prayer for the Church in China.
The two most common questions asked of me concerning the Church in China today are, “What are the current conditions like for believers in the world’s most populous nation (1.4 billion)?” and secondly, “How can I pray effectively for them?” The second question is easy to answer—The Holy Spirit will guide you in your prayers once you understand the present situation, all of which I will concisely outline for you in these two pages.
The Way of the Cross
China shifted to communist rule in 1949. Suffering and persecution became widespread and “normal” for Christians. Chinese believers came to understand that faith in Jesus comes with a price, and thus the phrase was coined in the underground house church movement—The way of the Cross. President Xi Jinping has become the most powerful leader in China’s history, consolidating his power and making amendments to the Constitution of China whereby eliminating term limits on his office of president. His primary goal is to strengthen loyalty to the Communist Party and destroy all forces that the government deems a threat. He views Christianity as a significant danger to the country and his leadership because Christians are so unified and pledge allegiance to another foreign leader – Jesus Christ.
Widespread Crackdown on Believers
On February 2, 2018, the government introduced a new, sweeping religious law that placed widespread constraints upon both the house church movement and the government-run Three-Self Patriotic Church. The initial intent of this law was to limit the size of unofficial religious gatherings to no more than 15 attendees. However, it became increasingly clear that the government and the police were moving far past this point and were instituting further limitations, such as the following:
- The government is currently removing all crosses on state-run, Three-Self churches and also on unregistered house churches that remain open. Installed in their place are pictures of President Xi. Communist slogans replace Scripture verses.
- Government officials, police officers, soldiers and teachers cannot be Christians and still retain their jobs.
- Children under the age of 18 cannot attend a Three-Self Church. In years past, government churches sometimes conducted Sunday School and youth meetings for children regardless of government regulations. However, now, government officials systematically visit Three-Self churches on Sundays, and if they discover children present, the pastor is fired and possibly receives jail time as a consequence.
- It is becoming a regular occurrence for police to interrogate young children in public schools. If they confess that they are Christians, their parents are Christians, or that the family plays host to a house church, the child is taken from school, banned from returning and on most occasions, the child’s family must leave their dwelling, and the parents are fired from their jobs. Teachers also ask students if they are Christians and remove them from school if they say they are.
- Local police put extreme pressure on employers, targeting Christians in the workplace. Employees are asked in interviews if they are Christians and/or attend church gatherings. Consequences range from losing promotions to experiencing unemployment.
- Police boldly confront elderly believers and tell them to sign forms renouncing faith in Jesus or face expulsion from nursing home settings or personal dwellings, thus becoming homeless.
- Those families who host house church gatherings in their apartments or small houses, as well as those locations that are rented/owned to be used as unregistered, local church meeting places, are deemed by police to be prime targets of their attention. Usually between 100 and 200 officers will converge on a location to confiscate all furniture, equipment and goods on the premises and then will close the empty site with steel bars and barricades. Police regularly imprison those who resist and hinder them (pastors or church members). Bibles and hymn books are confiscated and destroyed.
- In order to disrupt the gathering of believers for teaching on the Scriptures, police arrest pastors on Sundays and take them to jail from morning until late evening for “questioning.” Due to the constant surveillance of the Chinese population’s activities using cell phone tracking, intercepting of messages and emails, as well as closed-circuit cameras that cover residential and business areas, gatherings of believers in underground Bible Schools and pastors’ planning meetings are almost impossible to hold.
The New “Communist-friendly” Chinese Bible
Currently under development, and soon to be released by the Religious Affairs Department of the government, is the revised and edited Bible, designed to come into line with communist values and doctrine. The house church leaders are expecting a false translation that removes many sections of the Bible as well as the true meaning of the Gospel. Passages that teach on the resurrection, sin, the Holy Spirit, supernatural miracles, the Second Coming of Christ, and salvation in Jesus alone, will likely be altered or completely removed. As of this writing, the sale of Bibles through government churches has almost entirely ceased. Online apps/websites that contain the Chinese Bible are frozen in-country. Soon to follow the release of the new Bible will be an official Chinese Theology manual that will specify acceptable government-approved doctrine that ALL pastors must teach.
The Most Recent Development
The government is now declaring that all “religious talk” is strictly prohibited. Any religious messages or words placed on the internet, text messages, phone conversations or verbal conversations between individuals outside of official church buildings result in severe penalties. There will be zero tolerance for disseminating Bible text or biblical teaching.
The last 20 years have been somewhat stable for the house church in China leaving it to grow to 120 million believers or more. Pastors could carefully do ministry, disciple their congregations and win people to the Lord daily without too much government resistance. However, this is no longer the case. This attack on the Church in China will force change while at the same time producing spiritual maturity within the Body of Christ, according to house church leaders. Large house churches are breaking up into dozens of small house church gatherings, which means there is an immediate need for more trained pastors/elders and well as unaltered Chinese Bibles that are now in short supply. Empower Ministries International will continue its work to produce Bibles in China through secretive methods, train young pastors in the Word of God, and care for the needs of those pastors and their families sent to jail for their faith and ministry.
The Good News
The best possible news that I can give you is that the Church in China continues to grow and expand. The Holy Spirit is providing new insights and offering strategies to the Church leaders in China to compensate for the increased persecution and restrictions. The bottom line is that blood and suffering probably will be the price tag to see millions more Chinese people come to Christ.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS SENSITIVE MATERIAL.
PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD THIS REPORT DIGITALLY, AND DO NOT POST IT ON ANY WEBSITE OR ANY FORM OF SOCIAL MEDIA.
Download our new app in Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Ron’s stories and funny adventures, as well as audiobooks and teachings, are now as close as your smartphone, tablet or computer.