Will Chinese Christians face tighter restrictions?

By June 30, 2023

China (MNN) — What is it like to be a Christian in Communist-controlled China? In a word: complicated.

According to Kurt Rovenstine of Bibles For China, “The situation in China – when it comes to religious freedom, the ability to get the word of God, those kinds of things – is very much a fluid situation.”

Bibles For China works alongside the registered church in China, which allows them to print and distribute Bibles legally and openly to pastors and congregations throughout China. But even working within the regulations and guidelines provided by China’s government presents problems both for those already in China and those looking to travel there.

For example, some believers in China have reported concerns that state officials are modifying the content of printed Bibles in order to make the text better reflect the values of China and the Communist Party. While this may be happening in some places, Rovenstine says that “We are extremely confident that the Bibles that we purchased within China from Amity Press – which is an international Bible-printing organization – are unaltered.”

Still, it’s something Bibles For China and their local partners are watching. Local churches “have assured us that if the Bible changes, if it is altered so that it no longer reflects the most accurate translation available to us from the original manuscripts, then we will no longer distribute it.”

It’s a difficult problem. Rovenstine recalls a conversation with a group of Bible translators and distributors during a recent conference: “The Word of God is important. But it’s God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the protection of God Almighty, that’s keeping the word what it ought to be.”

So even as China’s Christians remain diligent, they also trust that God will direct them. They’re praying that “God directs us to help keep what He wants us to have, exactly the way it needs to be so that the truth of the Gospel […] can be discovered within the pages of the Bible.”

Beyond Bible alterations, the Church in China is also wrestling with surveillance issues, such as cameras accessible by the state and installed in church buildings, and online registrations that subject some Christians to high levels of scrutiny.

China’s state-level control isn’t running completely rampant. After all, tourism and international commercial markets are important to China’s economy. This balance by China’s leaders has made it difficult to get funds to believers in China who need Bibles. If you want to help support Bibles For China financially, you can do that right here.

If you don’t want to give, you can pray for Christians facing complex politics. “It’s not overt,” Rovenstine says. “It’s not as if they’re coming in and arresting people and closing churches.

“Keep praying for those folks, that God will continue to give them that strength and determination in the midst of the challenges that are before them.”



Header photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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