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

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATING IN CHINA

A U.S.-based persecution watchdog says it has documented more than 100 incidents of Christian persecution in China between July 2020 and June 2021 as the country’s communist regime seeks to forcefully convert independent religious groups into mechanisms of the Chinese Communist Party.

A significant trend throughout the past year was an increase in church raids, says a report published by International Christian Concern. It notes that “not only were churches shut down or demolished, but pastors and church attendees were often arrested.”

One example of this crackdown happened earlier this month when more than 30 officials from the CCP, including SWAT officers, police officers, religious affairs bureau officials and local school district administrators raided Maizi Christian Music High School in Harbin city in China’s Heilongjiang province, the U.S.-based rights group China Aid reported at the time.

In August, officers from Chenghua District Mengzhuiwang office in Sichuan province forcibly entered the home of a church member, He Shan, where the small group of Early Rain Covenant Church members were meeting for worship, CBN News said at the time.

ICC has also tracked 23 incidents of authorities demolishing religious structures and symbols during its reporting period. “The CCP has torn down, destroyed, and removed numerous churches in China, especially those that refused to submit to its control,” the report says.

The persecution watchdog adds in the report that it recorded 14 cases of “Sinicization,” which is a state campaign to forcefully assimilate religious groups into CCP-defined Chinese culture.

As an example, ICC highlights the plight of a church bookstore that was forced to display Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book instead of the Bible. The Administration for Religious Affairs also ordered Christians to study President Xi’s book and memorize his speeches.

Chinese authorities are also removing Bible apps and Christian WeChat public accounts as new highly restrictive administrative measures on religious staff went into effect earlier this year.

The ICC report says that almost every province in China has seen an increase in Christian persecution, and this rise has been especially apparent in Sichuan, Hebei and Fujian provinces where the independent churches have been very visible and active.

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This persecution of Christians is escalating all over the world and is evidence we are in the “end times” that Jesus spoke about that precedes His return. Jesus gives us many signs in the following passage from Luke. The same is given by Matthew. Jesus tells us that He is providing opportunities to witness for Him and that the Holy Spirit will even give us the words to speak. This is training and preparation for us to rule and reign with Jesus on this earth during the Millennium.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.Luke 21:10-19

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.