China (MNN) — Tibet protesters
publicly embarrassed China by disrupting the Beijing Olympics flame-lighting
China's recent crackdown on the
minority group was swift and strong. On
the anniversary of the 1959 failed uprising against China's rule of the
Himalayan region, demonstrations were held throughout Tibet's capital city and
around the country.
Those demonstrations in Lhasa
turned deadly four days later. Chinese
troops clashed with protesters, and riots broke out. The deaths led to waves of unrest in
surrounding provinces and Nepal and set off more rallies from sympathizers
around the world.
The death toll from the violence
varies widely, depending on who is reporting the statistics. Suffice it to say the range between 22 and 80
dead is likely impossible to confirm.
China's response provoked calls from
the international community to open dialogue with the religious leader of the
Tibetans, the Dalai Lama. While China
has refused talks, the strength of their reaction to the protests raised the
concerns of ministries like Open Doors.
Open Doors-USA president, Dr. Carl Moeller notes that, "China is very
sensitive to its public relations image in the run up to the Olympics
here. They are using the repression in
Tibet as a means to send a signal to all groups that don't approve of China's
policies on human rights records to settle down and be quiet."
Since China wants to present a
unified face, dissenting voices could mean that the persecution of Christians may
However, despite the opposition,
the church in China is growing rapidly. One estimate suggests that six percent
of China's population is Christian. By contrast, Tibet has an estimated total
of three hundred Christians.
Although many ministries hope to use the event
to share the hope of Christ, Moeller says, "We need to pray for China's
leaders, because as they make these decisions to crack down or not crack down,
it's going to take the result of people's experience with persecution and
either make it better or worse." Pray for boldness for Christians in
sharing the Gospel, despite the dangers that they face.