News From China’s Church – Vol. 2 No. 3

    The church in China is experiencing enormous growth, with an estimated 10,000 people becoming Christians each day. In July 1993, for example, a Christian meeting point in southern Guangdong had only 40 members. By September 1994 it had grown to 651 and the church has appealed openly for funds to build a facility able to hold 1,500 people. (OMF)
    The demand for Bibles in China continues to grow. A house church leader who represents 600,000 believers in Henan estimates he needs at least 23,400 Bibles each month just to supply new converts. Another house church leader passes his congregation’s sole Bible from family to family; each keeps it for two or three days, copying as much as they can before passing it on to the next family. (NNI)
    China’s government-sanctioned Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) sent a delegation of 24 priests and officials to the Philippines in mid-January to attend an international youth meeting led by Pope John Paul II, leader of the Catholic church. The landmark delegation has increased speculation among China analysts that Sino-Vatican relations, frozen since 1957, could improve. A split has existed for almost four decades within China’s Catholic church between underground clerics who remain affiliated with the Vatican and those aligned with the CPA. Numerous cases of pro-Vatican clerics arrested and detained by local government officials were recorded in 1994. (NNI)
    China joins a list of the ten nations that most severely persecute Christians, according to Open Doors. The other nine countries on the list are Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Comoro Islands, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, and Yemen. All except China and North Korea are Muslim nations. (IFA)
    The Dallas Chinese Youth Chamber Orchestra planned a program for March 18 called “To China With Love” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC). FEBC broadcasts Christian programs into China on a regular basis – in Mandarin, Cantonese, and other languages spoken in China. FEBC reports record listener response to its programs for most of 1994. (For a list of broadcast times and frequencies, write FEBC, P.O. Box 2016, Monterey Park, California 91754.)
    Six Christian pastors in Beijing sent the following written appeal through the Associated Press: “We call on brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us, members of the Body who have suffered abuse, and to be concerned about how the situation develops.” The church in China is experiencing tremendous growth despite persecution by the communist government. (IFA)
    China’s Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) permitted Beijing’s historic Xi Pang Catholic Church to re-open for the first time in 40 years. The church, first built in 1746, was closed shortly after the communists seized control of the country in 1949. The RAB allowed a Christmas Mass to be held in the church in 1994. The building has since been temporarily closed again for restoration. (NNI)
    An animated children’s Christmas program produced in China by the U.S.-based Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) did not receive government approval in time for broadcast on Chinese state television during the Christmas season. U.S. producers of the program say, however, they are optimistic the Chinese government will approve the program so that it can air at a later date. The program was produced in China at the Shanghai Film and Animation Company. CBN is also awaiting permission from the Chinese government to send comic books to children who write letters in response to the TV program. (NNI)
    The long-feared crackdown on Gangwashi Church, Beijing’s largest government (TSPM) church, finally came on October 30 when Pastor Yang Yudong was forcibly dismissed and police escorted Yu Xinli of the Beijing TSPM to take over the church. Gangwashi Church sources say Beijing TSPM authorities have been attempting to oust Yang for the past year due to his evangelical and independent leadership style. TSPM officials claim their dismissal of Yang is in line with a policy to retire pastors over the age of 70. More than 200 plainclothed police and TSPM representatives were at the service when Yang was forced to step down. (CNCR, NNI)
    A 24-member Christian medical team from the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong visited western China in November. They served with local medical personnel and gave lectures and demonstrations. Five more medical visits are planned for 1995. (OMF)
    New regulations issued by the Chinese government last year give police sweeping authority, including liberty to arrest Protestants associated with house churches (those not registered with the government), Catholics who don’t belong to the Catholic Patriotic Association (which denies the authority to the Pope), and all others considered guilty of “disrupting public order, or doing harm to the public interest through other means.” These regulations widen the scope of persecution of Christians already fined heavily for listening to broadcasts from overseas, having any contact with foreigners, or owning a Bible printed outside China. (Rutherford Institute)
    A project to start a million more churches in China has begun – via radio. From Hong Kong, the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) broadcasts programs into the mainland, including two 15-minute “DAWN China” programs and a daily half-hour training program on discipleship training, personal evangelism, church growth, and missions. FEBC and two other organizations are sending training booklets into China to help new church members. (Pulse)
    A Taiwanese preacher and 169 local Chinese Christians remain in detention following a Public Security Bureau raid on a house church near Zhoukou, Henan Province. Sources describe the raid on the unregistered house church as a “major police operation.” While it is not known if any of the local Christians were injured during the incident, one source said it is “very likely” that the assault was violent. Following a similar raid in Fangcheng, Henan Province, last year, the number of Christians in the area grew dramatically. (NNI, Charisma)

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