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

AUSTRALIA JETTISONING ITS CHRISTIAN ROOTS

Bob Katter MP addressing the media July 28th 2022

KENNEDY MP, Bob Katter, has used a media address in Canberra today to slam the continued persecution of Christianity, after learning the Senate Chief has proposed to ban morning prayers[i].

An enraged Mr Katter used the opportunity to hold up the Holy Bible and rattle off a plethora of recent examples of religious persecution in Australia. He showed solidarity and support to the seven Manly Sea Eagles players, who stood down to defend their religious beliefs, praising them for their conviction.

“This Book for 5,000 years has been the heartland of religious belief, a concept that there is something bigger than me, but in sharp contrast, the persecutors believe that there is nothing bigger than themselves and their opinions,” Mr Katter said.

“For 5,000 years the persecution of the people who believe in this Book have been on public record. I will not go through the persecutions that go back to the dawn of time.  I’ll just mention one – just one.

“During WWII, six million people were murdered in cold blood, many in gas chambers, for no other reason than what they believed.  And remember, the Torah is based on the first five Books of the Hebrew Bible.

“This continued persecution is well and truly alive today. Just have a look at what’s happened to these seven boys from Manly. They have been persecuted for no other reason than they have moral conviction and whether you agree with their convictions, or not, is irrelevant.

“The conviction shown by these seven men is heroic and every decent member of society should admire them. Whether you agree with them or you don’t, they have stood up for what they believe in at great personal sacrifice and that is truly admirable.  

“This is what the people of self-righteous arrogance have done to them:  they have had their jobs taken off them, taken their family security off them, taken their incomes from them, they have put the house they live in in great jeopardy, their futures, their aspirations – all in jeopardy. 

“According to news reports[ii] today, these players have been confined to their houses; they have been locked up.  Apparently, they are doing this to protect the players, but do you know what they said to the First Australians when they rounded them up in chains and sent them to Palm Island? They said, “we are doing this to protect you.”

“To think that this is happening in Australia today is sickening. We Christians have no illusions that we are now under persecution.  

“First, they targeted the Hollingsworth and biggest church in Australia. He was torn to pieces. Having finished with the biggest church in Australia, they then started on the leader of the second biggest church in Australia. Tore him to pieces.  

“Then they turned to the Evangelicals. They started on Israel Falou. They took his whole life away from him and destroyed his career because he made a quote from this Book. He was punished for his quotation of this Book. Yet for 5,000 years people have based the foundation of entire societies on its teachings. More than half the world believes in this Book, or in parts of it.

“Is it an unreasonable thing to quote from a book that more than half the population is committed to?  In Australia it is!

“And now, we have been told today by some that we cannot say prayers in the Parliament. We can show allegiance to some lady in England, but we cannot say prayers.

“So, to my fellow Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and people of other religious belief, I say this to you – Please will you circulate the names of those who persecute you. We must stop this cold-hearted persecution. They got Pell, they got Hollingworth, got Folau, they have got the Manly boys, so when will they start on you?!”

God is in control of all events in His world. This nation is setting itself up to come under God’s judgement. Perhaps we are already seeing His judgement with the floods and other calamities besetting this nation.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATES

30 Christians Jailed in India as Persecution Escalates

06/02/2022 India (International Christian Concern) – At least 30 people were imprisoned in India during May because of their faith. According to persecution watchdog, International Christian Concern (ICC), the arrests were justified by filling charges of forced conversion. In one incident a mob of radicals broke into the home of a local pastor, who was praying with his family and beat him before handing him over to police. The police then imprisoned him under the charge of “deliberate and malicious acts against another religion”. Anti-conversion laws, adopted in 11 Indian states, are often used against Christians as it allows authorities to jail them with little regard for due process. “We have arrived at a critical juncture, where practicing faith of our choice is equated as crime and punished accordingly,” a local Christian leader told ICC.

36 Christians Kidnapped in Nigeria’s Kaduna State

07/28/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – On Monday, July 25, an estimated 36 Christians were kidnapped from a village in Nigeria’s Kaduna state. The kidnappers are estimated to be Islamic extremists who performed door-to-door kidnappings in the village.  

An area resident described the kidnappings to Morning Star News. They said, “The Muslim terrorists attacked the community at about 9 p.m., shooting at the people, and broke into their houses and forcefully took away the victims to an unknown place.” 

Hmong Christians Suffering Daily Persecution in Vietnam

07/31/2022 Vietnam (International Christian Concern) – Hmong Christians in the Nghe An province of Vietnam are suffering from severe persecution.  

According to Morning Star News, officials in the province are trying to create “Christian-free zones” where they are able to operate “with no conscience or humanity,” as if the religious freedom violations were occurring a country other than Vietnam, where such acts are not legal.  

Other forms of persecution come from within their own communities. Most Vietnamese follow traditional animist teachings, and many who convert to Christianity from the traditional faith face rejection and even persecution from their family members and communities.  

Additionally, Vietnamese authorities pressure animist relatives of Christian converts to drive Christians from their homes and exile them. The only hope these Christians have of rejoining their communities is if they renounce their new faith.

Christians Prevented from Worshipping in Burkina Faso

7/30/2022 Burkina Faso (International Christian Concern) – According to Aid to the Church in Need International, Catholic churches in Burkina Faso are suffering interference by Islamic groups in the country. In many cases, militants are entering the churches during the service and forcing men and women to sit separately. In other instances, the sermons are being replaced with Islamic sermons. With this being the case, many people in the villages are not receiving proper pastoral care, and the pastoral care that is occurring is only because it is permitted by Islamists.

This recent interference comes on the heels of an attack that killed 20 people on July 3.

Lebanese Christians Concerned Over Political Future

07/30/2022 Lebanon (International Christian Concern) – As Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s six-year term approaches its October 31 close, Christians in Lebanon are concerned for their nation’s future. Lebanon’s historically Christian presidency, an important vestige of the religious community’s declining influence in the country, could worryingly fall to one of four individuals, none of whom are particularly popular with the nation’s Christian community. 

Overall, Christians in Lebanon face an unfortunate political reality. The Christian presidential candidates Aoun, Bassil, and Frangieh are all sympathetic to Hezbollah, and the other likely option to fill the role besides them is the Muslim Prime Minister Mikati. Unfortunately, this conundrum well reflects declining Christian political influence in the state of Lebanon

Cemeteries of Religious Minorities Targeted in Turkey

07/31/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Radicals have targeted another minority cemetery this month in Turkey. On July 15, a Jewish community discovered that their local cemetery in the Haskoy neighborhood of Istanbul had sustained serious damage. Vandals had desecrated 81 gravestones, excavated graves, and left the site in disarray.

 This month’s attack comes specifically on the heels of a similar incident against a Christian community in Turkey. On June 29, local Christians found the perpetrators had desecrated their cemetery, which was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, just prior to an annual celebration dedicated to the two saints. 

Source: Premier Christian News

RESPONSE OF SOME EVANGELICALS TO PERSECUTION

Many evangelicals in the USA have been anticipating some kind of confrontation with the changing social order. Crawford Griffen writes about it in his new book Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America – Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest. Over the last five years, he says, ” I’ve been writing about what might be one of the most significant trends among American evangelicals – a migration movement into the Pacific Northwest that has resulted in the formation of some very successful and increasingly influential intentional communities.

From small towns in northern Idaho, and elsewhere in the region, writers, artists and polemicists are publishing books with Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Random House, and broadcasting talk-shows on Amazon Prime. While offering different perspectives, they present a similar sense of crisis. The nation is no longer held together by common values, they explain. They argue that the teaching of evolution in public schools, the debates about abortion, gender and marriage, and the guidelines that shut down churches for reasons of public health are different fronts in a long war against Christianity. They recognize that the neutrality of the public square is an impossible ideal. They understand that politics is always about coercion. And so they proposed their solution. While, in the grand scheme of things, the believers who have migrated to the Pacific Northwest are not numerically significant – although they may number in the tens of thousands – they do project considerable soft power. Many of these believers live very visible lives. The community of several thousand members that has been established in Moscow, Idaho, for example, supports a publishing house, a music conservatory and an impressive liberal arts college. Led by Douglas Wilson, whose many publications include a book that he co-authored with Christopher Hitchens, this community sets out to make Moscow a Christian town.

Other migrants into the region prefer more secluded lives. They are attracted by the idea that this region could form an “American Redoubt,” as James Wesley Rawles has argued, a hold-out for those who want to resist the cultural powers that be. Rawles is the author of several novels and preparedness manuals, which are published by Penguin, and his website, survivalblog.com, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every month. His work sets out a more ambitious agenda for survival and resistance, in which readers are encouraged to adopt evangelical piety while being ready, if necessary, for less spiritual forms of defensive combat. For obvious reasons, those who follow Rawles’ agenda prefer not to attract attention. But for all their differences, Wilson and Rawles agree that believers need to expect an extraordinary cultural crisis in the short to medium term, and prepare for the new world that will follow. While their tactics for dealing with opposition are sharply different, their vision of the future is much the same. Dark skies are on the horizon, but they predict huge numbers of Americans will be converted, the social and political life of the nation will be renewed, and the policy of a renewed republic will be built around the demands of biblical law. Their optimism is appealing but I don’t believe Biblical prophecies such as these two by Jesus supports this optimistic view.

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.” Matthew 24:9-13

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.Matthew 24:21-22

I believe the Bible reveals that those Christians that adopt a praying church as it was in the Book of Acts intent on making disciples in their own communities, loving their neighbours and honouring Jesus regardless of the cost, will have the most impact for the Kingdom in these last days. The power of the Holy Spirit will be once more evident in this Home Church environment.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS -THINGS COULD GET WORSE

Martin Isles of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is worth following if you want to keep up to date with what the Australian Governments (State and Federal) are doing to restrict religious freedoms.

Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020

You will be very concerned as Martin is that the bill before the Victorian parliament will see Christians in gaol, e,g. if pastors read sections of the Bible on LGBT issues such as marriage and homosexuality and counsel people according to God’s values expressed in His Word.