HONG KONG (NNI) – During the few months after the Beijing massacre of June 3-4, the leftist campaign to punish the leaders of the pro-democracy movement has left the Chinese church relatively unscathed. More surprisingly, as researchers from various evangelical ministries return from their first trips into China since the crackdown, they report a buoyant mood among local Christians. Students are turning to Christianity in considerable numbers, and demand for evangelistic tracts has increased.
One house church leader in the coastal city of Xiamen said, “It has never been easier to witness for Christ in China than during this past month.” He added, “Because we Christians have become a curiosity … we are the only group in this society that still has any hope for the future … everyone else lost hope on June 4, and they want to know why we are not depressed at the prospect of a less prosperous China.”
It is among the student population that initial evangelistic successes have been reported. In Xiamen, one house church baptized 60 recently converted students on June 13. The ceremony was held out of doors in broad daylight. Another house church in the northern port city of Qingdoa, Shadong Province, welcomed 300 students into the fellowship in July.
Many Christians attribute the resurgence to the aggressive evangelism conducted among students at the height of the pro-democracy movement. House church Christians in Beijing assiduously gave out tracts in Tiananmen Square during the month of May. One leader even held open air meetings. He said, “In the square, and only in the square, there was total freedom. There were no forces of law and order anywhere, and we could talk on any subject, or give our opinion about any person – even Mao – without fear.”
Pictures and camera footage seen in the U.S. of the thousands of demonstrators that jammed Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June did not capture the image of a large white banner with the sign of the cross and Chinese characters proclaiming “God Loves the World!” on it. Christian students had joined the demonstration and were openly witnessing to their faith, according to a Christian journalist based in the U.S.
One church leader led his congregation into Tiananmen Square carrying a 10-foot cross. Instead of shouting political slogans, the Christians sang hymns of praise. Students explained to other demonstrators that Christianity is the only foundation for true democracy, leading to an animated discussion, according to Dan Wooding, a Christian journalist who has done extensive reporting on countries that are closed to the gospel.
Certain literature distribution agencies say they have never experienced more urgent demands for Bibles and evangelistic material. Remarkably, the borders into China, especially into southern China, have remained open and few literature distribution ministries have suffered any major dislocation of their Bible courier programs.