China (MNN) — Over the weekend, Chinese officials raided and forcibly closed a third prominent house church in Southern China this winter.
Around 60 police officers raided a children’s Bible study the Rongguili Church in Guangzhou Saturday morning and forced the kids and adults out. They blocked all roads to and from the church and confiscated church property, including 4,000 books.
Zion Church in Beijing and Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu were also recently forced to close. Over 100 members of Early Rain Covenant Church were arrested including Pastor Wang Yi, senior pastor of Early Rain, and his wife, Jiang Rong.
Pastor Wang Yi wrote a letter to be published if he was ever detained for more than 48 hours. You can read his poignant letter here titled “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience.”
Although the Chinese government is stepping up efforts to shut down unregistered churches leading to Christmas, this has been going on since February. President Xi Jinping passed a new law seeking to restrict religious activities that don’t submit to the Communist government’s control. Hundreds of unregistered churches have been closed or demolished, and just as many Christians and pastors arrested.
Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs explains, “Just this week, The Voice of the Martyrs issued a special report about the crackdown that we’re seeing in China this year. A new law went into effect in February. In March, President Xi Jinping was given basically a lifetime contract. Term limits were removed from him. He is the one driving this crackdown against the Church, against religious expression that doesn’t conform to what the Communist Party wants it to be.
“Ultimately, the issue is control. The Communist Party wants to control the people. They want to control the hearts and minds of the people. They see religion — and it could be Christianity; it could also be Islam — but they see religion as something they are fighting against for the control of the hearts and minds of the people.”
Educating yourself about the state of religious freedom in China is the first step to raising awareness. VOM can help out with that.
“We have this special report available. We’re also doing a series on the VOM Radio podcast…looking specifically at China. What is different this year? What does this new law mean for Christians there? Educate yourself through some of these tools that are available so that you can pray more effectively.”
Finally, Nettleton says your prayers are encouraging our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in China.
Nettleton spoke with a Chinese believer recently on the VOM Radio podcast who asked that we pray specifically for young Chinese Christians experiencing persecution for the first time.
“He said, ‘…Their parents and their grandparents have been through it before. They have seen it before. They’re not surprised by it. They’re not really afraid of it because they have seen how God sustains them through times of persecution and times of hardship.’
“But he said, ‘The young believers — they have never been through this before and so, understandably, they are intimidated. They are afraid.’ So he said, ‘Pray especially for those young believers who are going through this for the first time, that God will sustain them and encourage their faith through this time of persecution.’”
Header photo courtesy of Open Doors USA.