News From China’s Church – Vol. 3 No. 1

    Large numbers of university students in China are examining the claims of Christianity and putting aside their skepticism about what they formerly considered “superstition.” One Bible study group, which started out with five students, has grown to more than 300 people meeting in dozens of locations. On another campus there were 200 converts in the past year. “We believe that great things will happen in the next few years,” said a Chinese student who is a member of one of these Bible study groups “We are specifically praying that someday soon all Christians [in China] may be able to come out of hiding and declare their faith openly and publicly, and also worship openly and publicly without fear. We believe that by 1997 at least one million Christians will be able to gather in one large praise celebration at Tiananmen Square. Where once there was violence and death, we want to bring the message of peace and freedom in Jesus.” (Bible League)
    In spite of persecution of Christians in China – including imprisonment, beatings, exorbitant fines (often several years’ wages), and confiscation of Bibles – Chinese converts to Christianity in 1994 again numbered in the millions. Chinese students and intellectuals are more responsive than ever to believing the words of Jesus, according to China Harvest. (MissionLink)
    This past summer, the 10 millionth Bible came off the press in Nanjing at Amity Press, a joint venture between the Chinese government and United Bible Societies. Amity is also in the process of publishing a braille Bible, two study Bibles, and a Chinese/English diglot Bible. Because China’s church is growing rapidly, however, these numbers do not meet the demand. China’s current laws do not allow foreigners to bring Bibles into China, except for their own personal copies. In addition, Christians in China’s unregistered churches for the most part do not have access to Amity Bibles. Many Chinese Christians still write overseas pleading for Bibles. (Pray for China Fellowship, Open Doors)
    Jin Zhiming, 45, a leader of China’s growing house church movement, was arrested in Changzhi, Shanxi Province. During the raid, five officers from the Public Security Bureau confiscated Bibles, books, and Jin’s personal belongings. The vast majority of China’s estimated 50-70 million Christians belong to unregistered house churches. Because they do not register with the government, which would subject them to restrictions and regulations, they are frequently arrested, fined, or sentenced to labor camps. There have been several reports of Christians subjected to torture while in detention, resulting in a number of deaths. (Christian Solidarity International)
    A number of Chinese refugees, including several Christians, are choosing to return to China rather than wait in U.S. prisons while their applications for asylum are considered. However, lawyers for the refugees fear those returning to China will face severe repercussions upon re-entry. Five men who have already returned to China have been fined by the Chinese government and may be imprisoned in Shanghai, according to Jeffrey Lobach, an attorney representing the Chinese refugees. Many of the refugees fled China because of the government’s harsh family-planning policies, Lobach said. “Scores of them are Christians. Some were when they arrived; some [became Christians] since they’ve been here,” he said. Under China’s strict population-control policy, many women and families have faced either forced abortion, sterilization, or heavy fines. (NNI)
    Seventy Chinese scholars shared enthusiasm for their new faith in Christ at a meeting last summer in Virginia. The scholars, all from mainland China, are currently pursuing studies in the U.S. At the end of the weekend, they shared testimonies for two hours of how Jesus had changed their lives. “I couldn’t stop them!” said Freddie Sun, chairman of the event and director of Christian Aid Mission’s China Division. (Christian Aid Mission)
    Liu Xiabo, one of the Chinese dissidents detained last summer prior to June 4, was reportedly working on a petition appealing for government tolerance of opposing views and religious beliefs. (Human Rights in China, International Herald Tribune)
    Earlier this year, a radio program broadcasting to China began reading the Bible on the air. According to The Spoken Word of God Ministries, China was chosen because it has 22 percent of the world’s population and nearly all households own radios. (Spoken Word)
    One network of house churches reports a monthly need of 25,000 Bibles for new converts to Christians, plus 1,250 study Bibles. (Release International)
    During the past year, more than 25 Christian Chinese doctors and nurses – from the U.S., Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong – have visited poor areas of western China for assessment, lectures, and service under the auspices of Medical Services International. (OMF)
    The number of Christian churches in Hong Kong has increased from 872 in 1989 to 1079 in 1995, an increase of 25.3 percent, according to the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement. The number of people attending worship has also increased during the same period by 42.75 percent. (China News and Church Report [CNCR])
    Han Dongfang, a well-known Chinese labor activist, has become a Christian. He is continuing his work in Hong Kong, where he is living in exile since the Chinese government prevented him from returning home. (CNCR)
    Five church workers from Wenzhou, who were detained in a PSB raid on a house church in Huai’an, Jiangsu Province, have been fined up to 5,000 yuan. Four local Christians detained in the raid were released the following day. During their time in detention, the believers were repeatedly questioned about their activities. Sources say they were often beaten and kicked during interrogations designed to encourage them to confess to having connections with foreign religious organizations. One such interrogation session reportedly lasted 13 hours. (News Network International [NNI], CNCR)
    A house church leader from Anhui had a cross shaved on his head and his hands stabbed with scissors following his arrest earlier this year, according to a letter from Chinese Christians received by Hong Kong sources. During the police interrogation of Hu Zhuan Qi, in his early 30s, officials reportedly asked if it was accurate that Jesus had told his followers that they must be willing to bear the cross. When Hu answered yes, the official reportedly replied, “Then I’m going to give you a cross to bear.” The security officer then shaved a cross on Hu’s head and stabbed his hands with the scissors. A photograph showing the marks on Hu’s head and hands was included with the letter. (NNI)
    This October, millions of Christians around the world are expected to pray for 100 strategic cities of the world – including 17 in China. The cities are political and economic centers in their respective countries. Most are either capitals, or cities with large populations. Christians will be praying that God will bless each city, and that people residing there will know His love for them. The 17 cities in China are Beijing, Changchun, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hohhot, Jinan, Lanzhou, Lhasa, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Urumqi, Wuhan, and Xian. (Charisma)
    An Australian missionary and a Hong Kong Chinese church worker were among those arrested and briefly detained in Guangdong earlier this year, following a raid on an unregistered house church. Two Chinese evangelists were also arrested; security agents used steel rods to severely beat one of them, Li Dexian, 43. Li sustained fractures to several ribs and injuries to his back, legs, and neck. (NNI)

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