CHINA’S INTENSIFIED PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

We’ve previously heard declarations for unregistered churches to come into line with the official state church. In practice, this has meant, “Conform or at least shut up.” Enforcement was random and highly dependent on the will of the local party cadre. The understood agreement between local authorities and church leaders was this: “Don’t make us lose face and we’ll leave you alone.”

That’s not the current situation. The plan itself is more specific and comprehensive in scope. Since the government announced its intention to Sinicize religion, we’ve seen leaders implement the policies with far more breadth and aggression. In other words, there has been much more “follow-through” than in previous years.

Cameras have been installed in churches. Arrests have increased. A curriculum to “re-train” pastors has been written. Even the biggest churches have not been able to avoid conflict. Authorities also have plans to re-translate the Bible to suit their purposes.

As various outlets have reported, the government in Guangzhou is now ready to pay people to snitch on people who are engaged in religious activities deemed illegal (e.g., house churches, theological training, etc.). The government has even cooperated with other South Asian countries in order to track the activities of Christians who have ties to the Mainland.

While the government has always been sensitive about foreigners interacting with minority groups, it has taken more extensive measures in the past year. In Kunming, for instance, leaders have expelled or pressured out a substantial number (perhaps most) of the missionaries in the area, including entire organizations.

The rhetoric has changed a bit as well. Specifically, official propaganda is much more “anti-Western” than in previous campaigns. Sinicization is portrayed as a struggle against the oppression and imperialism of Western powers, especially the United States.

In a recent speech, Xu Xiaohong, Chairman of the Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, stated,

In modern times, Christianity was introduced to China on a large scale along with colonial aggression by Western powers. It was called “foreign religion.” The churches anywhere in our country were merely the result of Western missions and “Christianity in China.” Many believers lack national consciousness, so people say: “One more Christian is one less Chinese.” The occurrence of many teaching plans, especially the “Boxer Movement” and the “non-Christian movement”, prompted the church to create a “self-reliance movement.”

Sinicization is the brainchild of China’s highest political authorities. Given the fact that President Xi is no longer restricted by term limits, we have little reason to expect pressure to let up when he leaves office. He will be around long enough to see the process through.

What we are seeing in China and the rest of the world is the prophesied escalating “end times” tribulation being carried out by people controlled by Satan and his minions. Christians should not be taken by surprise as Jesus warned us beforehand. More importantly, we need to be obedient to his command to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to the whole world. Jesus is coming back and He and the Saints will rule and reign on this earth for 1000 years.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.Matthew 24:9-14

The Millennial Kingdom is a transition period when God fulfills the covenants He made with Abraham and David. God promised a descendant of David, Jesus will rule the nations from a restored Jerusalem.

“And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for His treasured possession, as He has promised you, and that you are to keep all His commandments, and that He will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that He has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as He promised.” Deuteronomy 26:18-19

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN INDIA

Authorities in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh arrested seven pastors at a prayer meeting under the state’s “anti-conversion” law, which Christians have accused Hindu nationalists of using as a tool to persecute them.

The pastors were arrested during a prayer meeting they were holding in Mau district last Sunday, UCA News reported, adding that the pastors have been charged with “illegal assembly.”

The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said this past weekend that the Christians remained in jail.

“We will move bail applications and are hopeful that they will be out of jail soon,” the pastors’ lawyer, Ashish Kumar, was quoted as saying.

The police initially also detained 50 worshipers but released them the same day. Two Catholic nuns who were at a bus stop near the prayer house were also held at the police station for several hours until the evening, said UCA News.

“Police wanted to book the sisters along with the pastors but let them go after the pastors and the faithful said they were not part of the prayer group,” Father Anand Mathew, a member of the Indian Missionary Society, was quoted as saying.

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An Indian man walks outside a deserted Baptist church, as India remains under an unprecedented extended lockdown due to COVID-19 on May 5, 2020, in Delhi, India.

Uttar Pradesh is one of the several Indian states that have “anti-conversion” laws, which presume that Christians “force” or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity.

The law states that no one is allowed to use the “threat” of “divine displeasure,” meaning Christians cannot talk about Heaven or Hell, as that would be seen as “forcing” someone to convert. And if snacks or meals are served to Hindus after an evangelistic meeting, that could be seen as an “inducement.”

The ICC previously noted that India’s population data proves that the conspiracy of mass conversions to Christianity is a false claim. “In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up only 2.3% of India’s overall population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still only make up 2.3% of the population.” This is a sad state of affairs and Christians need to pray for India and God’s plan to liberate this nations from Satan’s clutches.

India ranks as the 10th worst country globally when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged the U.S. State Department to label India as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating severe religious freedom violations.

Open Doors USA warns that since the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, persecution against Christians and other religious minorities has increased. The group reports that “Hindu radicals often attack Christians with little to no consequences.”

“Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam,” an Open Doors fact sheet on India explains. “They use extensive violence to achieve this goal, particularly targeting Christians from a Hindu background. Christians are accused of following a ‘foreign faith’ and blamed for bad luck in their communities.”

This is further evidence we are in the prophesied last days before Jesus returns first to rapture the Saints and then to return with the Saints to set up His Millennium Kingdom. Time is short and the task is daunting but we know God is in control. Each of us just needs to allow the Holy Spirit to direct our steps so we complete the good works He has assigned for each of us.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.Philippians 2:12-13

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,Titus 2:11-13

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WHAT DO YOU VALUE MOST?

You will need to decide what you value most before the prophesied “end times” tribulation begins in the last seven years before Jesus returns. First, He will rapture His church, prior to His wrath being poured out on the unrepentant with the trumpet and bowl judgements described in Revelation 8. After the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with His saints in heaven (Rev.19:7), then Jesus returns with the saints to deliver Israel (Rev. 19:11-16)

Is your church preparing for the coming tribulation and fulfilling Jesus command?

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24: 9-14

Jesus gives this warning for the Jews about the time of His second coming.

Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. ~ Luke 17:33

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

We are not in the final seven years as yet, but I believe the “end times” birth pangs that Jesus referred to have begun. Apostasy in the church, as it conforms with the world and discards God’s Word is one sure sign. Other major signs are gay marriage, transgender and abortion are now accepted by governments as lawful. Any in disagreement will be penalised and persecuted.

Jesus comes in the clouds to meet His saints in the air.

Check out Dr Nelson Walters You Tube videos – Gospel in the End Times.

PERSECUTION AIDS THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL

Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4

We can see it played out in the death of Stephen. The religious communities’ rejection of Stephen, to the point of stoning him, caused the believers to run for their lives. If not for this rejection, Philip would never have ended up in Samaria. And what happened there? Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.

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“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” Acts 8:5-8

A great revival broke out. The more the believers were persecuted, the more they spread out, fulfilling the words of Yeshua to start in Jerusalem, and then go to the ends of the Earth .

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).

And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)

Of course, we can see it played out in the Middle East and Africa where the church is under intense persecution by the greatest antichrist spirit of all, Islam. On this website, on a recent post, “Church Grows Under Persecution” I record the story of the rapidly growing church in Iran. Check it out if you haven’t already done so.

May we be like Paul who said:

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-11

PROPHESIED PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

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.”

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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.

LOSS OF JOB FOR STANDING UP FOR GOD’S VALUES

Russell Berger, the former CrossFit exec who lost his job after tweeting that celebrating pride is sin, recently gave his side of the story in a lengthy interview on Apologia Radio.

“I think it’s a really sobering and a disheartening example of where we are as a culture,” Berger said to Durbin. “Simply by expressing those views, which again have been pretty standard views for the historic Christian faith over thousands of years, that view is no longer tolerated and in fact it’s a view that’s so divisive and so intolerable that it’s the kind of thing you can’t say and expect to keep your job.”

Berger urged Christians to be prepared, because at any moment the social media “mob” could be turned on you.

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“It’s a really powerful and important lesson that all Christians should be aware of. This is a very common and very effective strategy that’s being employed by a certain segment of the LGBTQ community in terms of basically silencing any view that disagrees with their beliefs,” he warned. “You just need to be aware of that and be prepared for that should you make the decision to weigh in on a subject like I did. You have to understand that the pressure will be applied to you, but it will also be applied  to your employer, it will also be applied to your family members, it will be applied anywhere where those who are outraged by what you said think they can harm you. And that’s just the reality of the situation unfortunately.”

Jesus warned us that persecution comes with standing up for Him and God’s values particularly in the “last days”.

Already we are seeing a great falling away in the church as it compromises with the world’s values, once again it was prophesied in Scripture. Many of the large denominations have approved gay marriage and homosexual and transgender church leadership.

WILL CHURCHES BE ABLE TO TEACH GOD’S VALUES ON MARRIAGE AND SEX?

The following is taken from an article in The Australian by Michael Sexton May 29, 2018, it reveals the nation has largely rejected God, HIS Word and His values and persecution of believers who hold to the inerrancy of God’s Word is not too far off.

The Ruddock inquiry into religious freedom, instituted by the Australian Federal Government in the wake of the legislation authorising same-sex marriage, has completed its work but its findings have not been made public yet. In many ways the real issue is one of freedom of speech and is not a problem confined to religious bodies.

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It has been said that the complaints of some of the Rugby Australia sponsors about Folau’s statements raise an issue of freedom of speech. But it is a fact — sad or otherwise — of modern Australian life that a highly paid sportsman or sportswoman cannot continue to make public statements, especially unfashionable ones on moral questions, that alienate sponsors and expect to survive, given the views that dominate almost all public institutions in this country and the boards of most large corporations.

But, the real issue of freedom of speech in this area is whether churches will be able to continue their traditional teachings in pulpits and schools in the light of state and territorial legislation that makes it illegal to engage in conduct that offends or otherwise injures the feelings of individuals on the basis of, for example, their participation in same-sex marriage.

CHURCH IN EGYPT GROWS DESPITE JIHADIST SLAUGHTER

“The mood is very, very good amongst Christians who are living in Egypt. Not because the situation is good or bad—that is not the reason,” Sameh Hanna, pastor of an evangelical church in Cairo, told Premier. “We have two kinds of news—earthly news, which is very ugly, very discouraging and I think in the West, you get only the earthly news—a bombing here or there.” “But there is heavenly news,” added Hanna. “We know what is going on spiritually. We see things that not everybody is seeing. We see things you are not hearing. We see the multitude coming to the knowledge of Christ from every background, so this brings joy to us.”

Egypt has the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Officially, Coptic Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 96 million population. About one million are members of the evangelical community. According to Open Doors, Christians are facing “unprecedented” levels of persecution.

Egyptian Christians shout slogans as ambulances transport the bodies of victims killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral after the funeral.

Egyptian Christians shout slogans as ambulances transport the bodies of victims killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

“The rise of radical Islamist groups has only exacerbated Christian persecution, affecting believers in their villages, neighborhoods and workplaces,” said Open Doors on its website.

Each year, Open Doors publishes a list of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Egypt ranked 17th on this year’s list.

“Believers from a Muslim background, as in many countries, bear the brunt of persecution, often from their families who may punish them for abandoning the Islamic faith,” said Open Doors in a statement. “However, the Coptic church, which in the past has been tolerated because of its size and historical presence, is now being targeted, too.”

Some experts say that since Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el Sisi came to power in 2014, the conditions for Coptic Christians have improved.

“He has done some things that no leader in Egypt has ever done in all 1,400 years of Islamic rule in Egypt,” claimed Dr. Michael Youssef, founder of Leading the Way ministry. Michael Youssef and several other prominent American evangelical leaders met with Egypt’s president last year in what was described by some attendees as a historic  meeting.

“He [Sisi] has warmed up to Christians,” Youssef told CBN News. “He has appeared for Christmas celebrations at the Coptic Cathedral and in every way, he has reached out to the Christian community.”

Earlier this year, Sisi told Coptic Christians that Egypt would prevail over Islamic extremism. “You are our family, you are from us, we are one and no one will divide us,” the president said.

Four Islamic jihadists were killed on Sunday in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula as part of the government’s ongoing campaign to rid the region of terrorists. In addition to targeting Egyptian soldiers, police officers and civilians.  jihadists have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings.

Facing little contest, president Sisi won a second term in office this month after winning 97 percent of the vote in a presidential contest. Many Coptic Christians, who remember what life was like under the Muslim Brotherhood,  voted for him.

Youssef told CBN News that he believes Sisi is the best man to rule Egypt at the moment. “He literally is trying to break down all these barriers that were created through the years,” said Youssef, author of the new book, The Hidden Enemy. “I really believe he is God’s man, God raised him up {because} people will say that if it wasn’t for Sisi, you would have had 15 million Christian refugees from Egypt and they look at the neighbouring countries and they would say, ‘Thank God for Sisi’ and the Christians particularly are very grateful.”

extract from article in Charisma Magazine by George Thomas/CBN News

 

 

 

OHIO PARENTS MAY LOSE CUSTODY OF 17-Y-O CHILD FOR NOT SUPPORTING GENDER TRANSITION

An Ohio court is set to determine Friday if the parents of a teen girl, who identifies as a boy, should lose custody because they object to hormone treatments and a “gender transition” process on medical and religious grounds.

God is already judging America. Moreover, He has His prophets (e.g. Jonathan Cahn) clearly demonstrating it’s God’s judgement and that it will escalate unless the nation repents and stops sinning. Whilst there has been some positive moves under Trump, same sex marriage and transgender issues involving children, as reported here, do not augur well for the church. Increased persecution is imminent, and Jesus prophesied “great falling away” will follow.

CNN reported Tuesday on a Hamilton County court’s ongoing proceedings involving the parents of a 17-year-old girl — neither of which can be named per court instructions — who want the court to intervene in order to stop her from receiving hormones and therapy. The treatment was recommended by a “medical team” working with the teen and who considers such treatment a “life-or-death situation.”

The parents, however, want custody of their child because they believe that by allowing the grandparents to have custody “it would simply be a way for the child to circumvent the necessity of parents’ consent,” said Karen Brinkman, their attorney, according to court transcripts. Brinkman contended that given the mental state of the teenager, she is in no position to make such a life-altering decision.

The parents, she continued, “have done their due diligence contacting medical professionals, collecting thousands of hours of research,” and believe that the administration of hormones are not a “medically necessary form of treatment” and that it “would do more harm than good.” Not all of the details surrounding the case have been made public.

“If the judge rules in favour of the ideologically driven gender clinic, the ability of all parents to protect their children of any age from all aspects of this social and medical experiment will take a tremendous hit,” said Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Paediatricians in an interview with The Christian Post Wednesday.

She noted that such a delusion is a disorder of the mind; that gender dysphoria is distinctly unlike a disease of the body like diabetes, asthma, or cancer; and that no long term evidence exists showing that encouraging a child’s delusion prevents suicide.

Furthermore, she stressed, “there is no evidence that any gender dysphoric child’s suicidal feelings are due to parents’ refusing to go along with the delusion. It is more likely that whatever has caused the child’s depression and suicidal thoughts is also triggering the gender dysphoria.”

The CNN report presumes the maleness of the girl and employs the pronoun “he” throughout the entirety of the piece. Medical experts from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, which has been working with the teenager, testified in court that the father’s refusal to call the child by her chosen name and the parents’ rejection of his daughter’s gender identity have caused her to have suicidal feelings. CNN also featured the words of Dr. Michelle Forcier for supporting commentary, who is a professor at Brown University and longtime LGBT activist paediatrician who works with children as young as four who think they are transgender, though she is not involved in this specific case.

“If your child had asthma and was turning blue, you wouldn’t deny them their albuterol inhaler or say ‘let’s wait,’ ” Forcier said. “If this were cancer or diabetes, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but people get funny when it comes to medical care when gender is involved, and that’s harmful.”

Cretella made a point to tell CP that Forcier’s remarks are “unscientific.” “A child suffering from gender dysphoria has a fixed belief contrary to physical reality. This is a delusion,” she said, and “a delusion is not any person’s ‘authentic self.'”

 

“Since there are no long term studies regarding the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in young children and teens, this entire enterprise is, by definition, an experiment upon a minor — and a dangerous one at that given the life-long permanent side effects.”

In November of 2016 the teen contacted a crisis chat service to say she did not feel safe in her parents’ home and alleged that her father told her to commit suicide because she was “going to hell anyway.” Her lawyer said in court that her parents’ decision to enroll her in Catholic school where she had to wear dresses and go by her birth name contributed to her trauma and increased suicidal ideation.

The teen also said she was forced to sit in a room and listen to Bible readings for over six hours at a time, according to the complaint; the parents had reportedly stopped the mental health counselling she was receiving and opted for a Christian alternative.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INCREASING IN CHINA

An evangelical megachurch was destroyed by Chinese Communist authorities late last year in the country’s northern Shanxi province, sparking fears among Christians that the persecution they suffer will soon get worse.

China Aid said that Chinese military police detonated explosives inside Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen, destroying the $2.6 million house of worship, which was owned by the Christians who worshipped there.

A demolition crew broke apart the remaining pieces of the church after the explosion with diggers and jackhammers.

Lampstand’s head Pastor, Yang Rongli, had previously spent seven years in prison on charges of assembling a large crowd to disturb traffic order, and has been under police surveillance since his release in October 2016.

Describing the demolition, the pastor was quoted as saying that at first, police surrounded the church.

“Patrol wagons guarded the church. Workers smashed the church’s glass. At this point, excavators are digging into the church, but we are not allowed to enter or watch.”

“The village head and the police from the local police station warned all the believers against entering the church. Now, we really have no idea what is going to happen.”

The order to demolish the church reportedly came from China’s top officials, who control the military police.

“The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights,” said ChinaAid President and founder Bob Fu.

“ChinaAid calls on the international community to openly condemn the bombing of this church building and urge the Chinese government to fairly compensate the Christians who paid for it and immediately cease these alarming demolitions of churches.”

The Guardian reports that a Catholic church in the neighboring province of Shaanxi was also demolished in a similar fashion last month, which is stoking fears among Christians that the widespread crackdown on churches continues in full force.

As many as 1,200 crosses have been removed from churches in Zhejiang province since 2015, with officials arguing that many of the demolitions have been down to building code violations.

A local pastor, who asked not to be named, said that he saw “more police than I could count” at the site, preventing worshippers from approaching.

“My heart was sad to see this demolition and now I worry about more churches being demolished, even my own,” he said. “This church was built in 2008, there’s no reason for them to destroy it now.”

The Associated Press noted that the evangelical megachurch had a congregation of 50,000, and had been targeted by police on a number of occasions. Officials reportedly hired thugs to smash the church and take its Bible during the crackdown in 2009, when Rongli was arrested.

Christians have protested against church demolitions, with a video captured in Shanxi in August showing a clash between Catholics and government representatives who were using bulldozers to destroy church property.

As mentioned in my last post, approximately 215 million Christians now experience high, very high, or extreme levels of persecution; that means 1 in 12 Christians live where Christianity is “illegal, forbidden, or punished,” according to Open Doors researchers.