Thursday, April 28, 2011

China's Persecution of the Followers of Jesus

It is my great privilege to teach at a Chinese theological seminary in New York City. I have learned so much about faith, honor, and love from my many Chinese Jesus-following friends. I have also had many dialogues on Christianity and the church in China. I've had a number of Jesus-followers from China's underground church in my classes.

Among many memorable moments here is one. I preached to a Chinese congregation on a Sunday morning. After my message a man was brought to me. An interpreter introduced him. He was from China and visiting family in NYC. He worked for the Chinese government. The government did not allow him to believe in God. The interpreter said the man wanted me to pray for him. "What can I pray for?" I asked. He said, "Pray that I would believe in God." I did.

Yesterday's headline at reads "Underground Christians Fear China Crackdown." The bullets are...
  • Jesus-followers are being called enemies of the state.
  • The Underground Church is where the Real Movement lies; the official state church (churches) are controlled by the government. "To be recognized, the church must register to be a state-sanctioned operation, which includes censoring of certain religious materials."
  • The Chinese government is again cracking down on Christians and The Movement, "fearing
    a revolt that mirrors the unrest across the Arab world."
  • "On Easter Sunday, police officers stood outside Water's home and that of hundreds of other Shouwang members, forbidding them from attending an outdoor service church members had spent months preparing. The senior pastor, Jin Tianming, remains under house arrest. Those who did make it to the site in northwest Beijing were rounded up in unmarked public buses and detained inside police stations. Shouwang is one of China's largest Protestant Christian groups not sanctioned by the Chinese government."
  • Jesus-followers are followed by the police, harrassed, and detained.
  • "Water" (not her real name), who started practicing Christianity because she felt the Communist Party "left [her] empty," says that she prays for her country to find "strength" on a daily basis. At the same time, she is realistic about the risks she has taken. "Personally I don't know how long I can last because the pressure is pretty intense, because they try to harass your family, your workplace and your landlord. They want to evict you," she told CNN. "They want to control you."
  • 500 Shouwang church members were put under house arrest on Easter Sunday.
  • "As for Shouwang's church members, Water is not sure how long she can keep fighting for her faith. She is keenly aware of the fate of many Chinese dissidents, religious and otherwise. "I'm really afraid of torture," Water said, with hands calmly folded. "Being tortured ... I heard many stories of that.""
  • Read the Chinese government's response here