Chinese President Xi Jinping believes in the absolute power of the Party and wants his government to exert control over every aspect of Chinese life. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has severely cracked down on human rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression. Christians in China are experiencing some of the worst persecution in decades.
The recent arrest of a prominent church pastor underscores the level of persecution against Christians. Authorities in the city of Chengdu, in China’s southwest, recently arrested pastor Wang Yi, along with his wife and 100 members of his Church. Authorities shut down the church and charged pastor Wang with “inciting subversion of state power.”
Wang’s church, like scores of other congregations, is outside government control as part of China’s burgeoning so-called underground or house church movement. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, says this movement has touched every corner of China. “All across China, there are house churches, or what they call ‘family churches’ and the reason the Communist government is so worried is because there are far more Christians in China than there are members of the Communist Party,” Nettleton said.
In recent months, Beijing has waged a brutal and widespread crackdown to stop the growth of these unregistered churches. “This crackdown is a direct response to the fear of the Communist Party leaders who see the church growing faster than the party is,” Nettleton said. Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, says what started several years ago as a small campaign against unregistered churches has turned into all-out war. “The campaign started first in Zhejiang province from 2014 to 2016,” Yang said. “Now, it is a nationwide campaign.” Now authorities routinely target houses of worship, destroy crosses, burn Bibles and arrest pastors.
Foreseeing his arrest, pastor Wang wrote a letter with instructions that it should be published if he went missing for more than 48 hours. In it, Wang vowed to use non-violent methods to stand against Chinese laws he believed were against the Bible and God.
“My saviour Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws,” Wang wrote.
Wang continued “I am filled with anger at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at their wickedness in depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that are contrary to God’s word. Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family, the authorities are capable of doing all of these things,” Wang warned. “However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life.”
The church needs to prepare for the coming tribulation which we know will escalate as we approach and move into the last seven years before Jesus returns to rule and reign in the Millennium. Jesus refers to great tribulation in the last half of 70th week of Daniel and prior to the Rapture of the church at the trumpet blast at the seventh seal and before God’s wrath is poured out with the trumpet and bowl judgements. Time is wonderfully short before Jesus return, but we need to be bold and courageous and open to the Holy Spirits lead to pray for and evangelise the lost.