China (MNN) — Persecution in China filled the headlines in recent weeks. Authorities raided several house churches and arrested leaders within China and harassed Chinese believers seeking shelter in Thailand.
Joe Handley of Asian Access says these specific cases follow a broader trend. “Over the last few years, the government [has become] more concerned about the rise and influence of the underground church, sometimes called house churches,” he says.
“Those I’m talking to have mentioned people put under house arrest or some form of monitoring.”
The pandemic provided a brief respite from intensified persecution. “During COVID, life was chaotic, and the government focused on the health concern of the country. That gave new momentum to the underground church, and tons of people [were] joining online forms of church,” Handley says.
However, “as the pandemic started to wane, the government began to do much more review of these online formats.”
Asian Access equips Gospel workers who multiply churches. Although it does not operate in China for security reasons, leaders like Handley closely follow the latest developments.
“You have in-depth discipleship in many places,” Handley says.
Speaking of Chinese believers, he adds, “they’re not afraid of persecution; they’re not afraid of pressure. They’ve been through this before.”
Pray Chinese believers will find new strength and encouragement in the Lord. Pray also for wisdom and patience.
“Their (believers’) plan is Jesus. They want to see a better society by having people follow Christ and then improve their lives – have better marriages, families; have better commitments to their communities,” Handley says.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Christian Lue/Unsplash.