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16 June 2016

Christians in China continue to go underground

Christians in China continue to go underground

China has come back into the headlines lately, as we recently reported in May. A church leader's wife was buried alive when she tried to stop the demolition of her church building.

Bob Fu, president of China Aid said: "Bulldozing and burying alive Ding Cuimei, a peaceful and devout Christian woman, was a cruel, murderous act."

"This case is a serious violation of the rights to life, religious freedom and rule of law. The Chinese authorities should immediately hold those murderers accountable and take concrete measures to protect the religious freedom of this house church's members."

The estimated tens of millions of Christians in China mostly meet in underground churches due to the communist government regime, to avoid detection. Recent reports coming from China indicate that persecution of Christians is on the rise. China Aid, a Texan based charity, states that persecution against Christians in China has increased sevenfold since 2008.

Christian Today reports: "The province of Zheijang has been hit particularly hard by the crackdown. By the end of 2015, more than 20 churches had been forcibly demolished, 1,300 crosses removed, more than 500 Christians taken into police custody, at least 130 Christians physically injured, more than 60 Christians administratively or criminally detained, and at least 28 pastors and Christians arrested or charged with a crime in this one province alone."

Even more worryingly, reports are surfacing after investigations by China Aid of claims that a specific government centre has been set up in order to destroy churches and harass Christians. Interviews with an anonymous church leader said that her church has six separate cases facing trial involving five church members.

Over the last nine years the arrest and harassment of Christians in China has been rising. Persecution rates are now 709.94 per cent worse than in 2008. The report indicates that Christians are being tortured, harassed and beaten and that a total of 20,000 Chinese Christians suffered religious persecution at the hands of the Communist Chinese government in 2015 alone.

52-year-old Gao Zhisheng is a human rights lawyer who was arrested by the regime and held for three years. In his memoir he describes being treated so severely in prison that by the time he was released he could barely walk or talk. He has told the story of his captivity with bravery, saying that his faith kept him alive, and has chosen to remain living in China despite being given opportunities to reside in the USA.

He writes ""My experience is just one part of the boundless suffering of the Chinese race under the cruellest regime in human history."

Prayer points:

-  Pray for church leaders in captivity that have been wrongfully arrested, and also for those facing pending charges.

-  Pray that those that are meeting in smaller underground churches would be given specific training and resources to help disciple the congregation.

-  Even under persecution, the gospel continues to flourish – pray that it would continue to do so.

 

 (Image by Allen Li used under CC license)