China (MNN) — We have talked about how Christian persecution in China is rising dramatically. Every week, more churches are shut down or censored by government officials. Local authorities have banned children from certain congregations.
Open Doors USA tracks Christian persecution around the world and reports their findings each year on the World Watch List. China is currently ranked at number 43 out of the top 50 countries with the worst Christian persecution.
David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors explains, “China has moved up that list unfortunately and it has to do with the growing, increasing pressure on house churches — what has typically been underground churches. That is a little misleading because they’re typically well-known within their communities. But [there is] growing pressure to register these house churches.
“The government has been pressuring [house churches] and then when they register, they have been monitoring them in a little more official way, a little more onerous way.”
This power grab for control over religious institutions is frightening, to say the least, because of what it could mean for the future in China.
“You can imagine…if in your home community the police came to you and said, ‘We want to know who is a Christian in this town,’ the first thing you would wonder is, ‘Why do you need to know that?’ Secondly, ‘What are you going to do when you find out?’ And thirdly, ‘If there were some very evil intent sometime down the road and they had a list of Christians, would that portend for some folks to have some very difficult days?’”
Curry says there seems to be a growing nationalist movement taking root in certain regions of China — and it is fostered by the Communist government.
“If they allow Christians to exist, they want that Christian faith to be ‘Chinese’ or loyal to the government to validate government politics [and] policy.
“The Chinese Church is wary of doing that because, of course, this nationalization of the Church means they may one day be forced to choose between Jesus and the Chinese government.”
Forced nationalization of the Church is extremely dangerous since it asks believers to put secular heads of state above biblical truth.
However, as Curry points out, the temptation to marry political agenda with Christianity rears its head in other arenas — even in America.
“We can look at our own situation and say, ‘At what points am I asked or do I decide myself that I am doing to be a Democrat or a Republican before I am a follower of Jesus?’ Call ourselves on it…because we do it to ourselves in many cases in this country. We say, ‘I’m a this’ or ‘I’m a that’ and people do it in every single political party. But first, we need to center ourselves on being a follower of Jesus.”
The biggest thing we can do as believers is to pray and stay grounded in Scripture. Curry says, “As it relates to China, we need to pray for this Church to mature, and quickly. The Chinese Church is massive in size, but like the American Church, it’s big and it’s shallow. So we need this Church to grow up…. The Chinese Church has been underground for so long, it doesn’t know how to play a useful public role in law, in education, and in the policy world; so Christian faith hasn’t been integrated into all parts. We need to pray for that in China in a healthy way.”
Please also pray for the Body of Christ — in China, America, and around the world — to keep the Lord and His Word at the forefront of our convictions and actions without shared allegiance to other parties, worldviews, or leaders.