China (MNN) — The United States and China will hold a new round of talks on human rights.
This comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis generated
when a Chinese dissident fled to the American embassy in Beijing and eventually asked to leave China for the
U.S. Despite the circumstances, the
next round of human rights talks is scheduled for this summer in Washington.
Even as it appears there's been headway in the human rights
dialogue between the two nations, an earlier report surfaced from the China Aid
Association (CAA) that seems to belie the promises.
According to CAA, China's government launched a three-phase
campaign to eradicate Protestant house churches. A document released last fall by the State
Administration for Religious Affairs showed the strategy was to spy out and
document what they were doing, encourage affiliation with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and for
those who refused to cooperate, and shut them down. That first phase began this year.
Carl Moeller, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, says, "This
is nothing new that the Chinese government finds problems with the house
church. The Chinese government desires to have all Christians registered and
all church activities controlled because, frankly, the Chinese government wants
to control all things in commerce in public life as well as private life."
The words house church would be banned and changed to house gatherings. This term would be used to identify groups
meeting in sites affiliated with the TSPM. That boils down to breaking up the mega churches into more
However, Moeller explains, "The Church in China started as small groups. The reason they got so big is because those
small groups became so successful at penetrating all levels of Chinese society,
and they were given more access, more freedom, really, to be able to meet and assemble
together in larger and larger groups."
Over the next 10-years as this plan
is phased in, Moeller expects to see that "the church is just going to penetrate more layers of
society, more parts of the country. It's the very same situation that happened
when the Romans persecuted the early church."
However, Rome's plan went awry. "When they would break
up their assemblies, people would leave different cities, people would move to
new places and plant new churches. I really believe that that's another
indication that the Chinese government will be facing a brand new wave of Christian
revival if it braves this sort of persecution."
In its statement, CAA asks, "Humane law enforcement,
long-term implementation, and ‘united front' style registration: how will this
… impact house churches that are seeking a path to religious freedom?"
Moeller says it won't be easy, but that has never stopped the
Gospel. "We need to pray. We need
to let [Chinese believers] know, through our prayers, that they're not alone. We need to use
prayer as a catapult for our own action to do whatever it takes to
provide whatever they need in these places: Bibles, encouragement, training, or sometimes,
Our Featured Links Section has a link to how you can help
the persecuted Church through Open Doors.