- REMARKABLE GROWTH
Despite increased persecution and the fact that more than 2,000 Christians are currently imprisoned for religious reasons, the church in China is growing at a remarkable rate, impacting lives and sharing the hope of Jesus. Although more than 6,000 churches have reopened since 1979, by far the vast majority of Chinese Christians continue to meet in private homes. Many rural groups meet in caves for fear of reprisal from the government. A church opens in China every 36 hours. (WHBL)
- CHRISTIANS ARRESTED
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. (NNI, CNCR)
- MILLIONS TO PRAY FOR CHINA
This October, millions of Christians around the world prayed 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 prayed that God would 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)
- FOREIGNERS ARRESTED
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)
- REN BA YUE
This is lunar leap year in China, when an extra month is added to the lunar calendar to make it match the 365-day solar calendar. When the double month falls in August – every 19 years – superstition says that tragedy will follow. Red good-luck banners are in many doorways, and in Jiangxi Province, where floods have hit hard, red umbrellas and clothes are selling out. Many truck drivers have tied red strips of cloth to their side mirrors or radio antennae.
The Chinese government, which has outlawed fortunetellers in its continuing battle against superstition, has tried to stop mounting anxiety. Earlier this year, the People’s Daily published an article entitled, “An Eighth Leap Month Is Not Necessarily Linked to Natural Disasters.” (Los Angeles Times)
- TRYING TO OUTLAW RELIGION
“Under communist cosmology, the party has assumed the mission of shepherding religion to extinction in the name of scientific socialism,” noted an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, a U.S. business newspaper. “And while it has abandoned everything Marx ever wrote about economics, it clings gamely to Lenin’s notion that the party must remain overbearing in spiritual matters and every other part of life. Never mind that nobody can explain anymore why this should be so . . . The party ought to rethink its attitude. It gains nothing from harassing peaceful religious believers or driving them underground; it only makes more enemies. And of course it forces companies throughout the United States and the rest of the free world to close their eyes to the fact that they’re doing business with a government that engages in such persecution.” (Wall Street Journal)
- COMMUNISTS BECOME CHRISTIANS
An official Chinese internal document reveals growing concern of the Communist Party about Party members becoming Christians. Especially in Henan Province, where religious growth topped 50 percent last year, disillusioned communists are turning to Christ. The report, issued earlier this year, said that more than 18 percent of Party members, cadres, and their families have either joined or taken part in religious organizations or activities.
The official response has been a circular to all provinces saying that all Party members found to be part of religious organizations should be expelled from the Party, and that those who take part in “underground illegal organizations” (which in communist terminology includes unregistered house churches) should be both expelled from the Party and dismissed from their posts. (News Brief)
- ANHUI POLICE LAUNCH CRACKDOWN
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)
- DECREES 144 AND 145
House church leaders have reported that the government is giving greater attention to implementing Decrees 144 and 145, which were issued in February 1994 to control religious believers. Others have said that Chinese authorities are attempting to infiltrate the leadership of house churches in order to discover their strategies.
Earlier this year, the leader of an overseas Christian organization that works with the official church in China, claimed that the government’s aim in 1995 is to register all the housechurches operating in China. Although the likelihood of achieving this is extremely remote, it shows how seriously the government is taking the perceived threat from Christian believers. (Update)
- CHINESE RESEARCHER INTERVIEWS CHRISTIANS
Wu Ying, a researcher at the Institute of Religious Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, spent two months in Beijing interviewing 50 Christians and scholars. His report was published in the Hong Kong journal, Ming Bao Monthly. Wu talked to the Christians about their conversion, baptism, work, knowledge of faith, and the future of Christianity in China.
Wu found that the main reasons for believing in Jesus were: (1) the witness of other Christians, (2) an instinctive feeling that God exists and that Christianity is best suited to them, (3) personal spiritual experience, (4) personal crises and searching for meaning in life, and (5) being healed by God.
The Christians whom Wu interviewed had a pessimistic view of modern Chinese society. They referred to the rise in crime, worship of money, and the collapse of moral standards. Some saw the need for strengthening the legal system, but most saw this as only an external constraint. They said there is a need for an internal arbiter – a conscience – to prevent crime, and that only the Christian faith could do this.
All the Christians interviewed agreed that Jesus had changed their lives. They no longer lied or hated other people. They now acknowledged their sins and repented of them.
One seminary graduate gave an interesting response to a question concerning original sin and its incompatibility with traditional Chinese views on the innate goodness of human nature. “Originally I thought I was a good person, wanting to help others,” he said. “So how could I be a sinner? Later I came to see that not knowing God was the greatest sin.”
Although all interviewees admitted that the Christian concept of sin clashed with traditional Chinese views on the subject, they all said they had come to a point of confessing their sin and seeing the pitiable state of those living in sin.
Many admitted that coming to faith was a long, painful process. It meant looking with new eyes on Chinese racial traditions dating back thousands of years and abandoning atheism, which had been inculcated for several decades.
Mr. Wu, who is presumably not a believer himself, said that the Christians greatly impressed him with their sincerity and friendliness, which he found in marked contrast with society at large. “When I was with them,” he wrote, “I experienced their inner purity, goodness, faith, and love. They sincerely believe Christianity can save China.”
Wu concluded by saying that Christianity was fulfilling an increasingly useful role in Chinese society, although it is the religion of a minority. “One more Christian, one less criminal,” he said, was a true saying. (China Insight)