It is becoming increasingly more dangerous for professing Christians in China after a recent resurgence in persecution. According to a recent report in Bitter Winter, a magazine focused on human rights and religious liberty in China, officials from the Communist Party are forcibly entering Christian’s homes to remove Christian symbols and replace them with posters of the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the founder of the modern communist nation Mao Ze Dong. Bitter Winter reports that approximately 1,400 Christian items have been destroyed or replaced. In one shocking incident, Communist Party officials recently ordered a church in the Dongcun village in Henan Province’s Luoning county to remove the first of the Ten Commandments because it conflicts with Communist ideology. The church members were told the removal was a matter of national policy. An official from the inspection team told reportedly told the church members, “You should have a clear understanding of the situation. Don’t go against the government.” Sadly, this particular church has been previously targeted by government officials. Last year the government demolished the cross at the same church. In fact, 1,800 crosses have been demolished since the campaign began two years ago.
Persecution Extends throughout China’s Religious Landscape
Even more troubling is that the communist government is doing more than simply destroying religious symbols. Officials have been condemning and even demolishing houses, apartments, and buildings where various house churches meet. In some cases, scores of local police officers have blocked the entrance of the church meeting venue and prohibited believers from entering. According to officials, these measures are to influence the house-churches to join the officially recognized Three-Self Church. Many house churches specifically do not wish to affiliate with the Three-Self movement due to the oversight enforced by the Chinese government. While the Three-Self churches are officially registered and supposedly approved by the Chinese government, they are not without their share of persecution. Pastor Gu Yuese, the senior pastor of China’s largest church, who publicly opposed the removal of crosses from churches was dismissed from his position by officials from the Communist Party and held for three months before being released and eventually re-arrested. Similarly, Pastor Wang Yi, 45, who runs the independent Early Rain Covenant Church in the southwestern city of Chengdu, was detained along with his wife and more than 100 members of his congregation. Pastor Wang and his wife are being charged with “inciting subversion of state power,” a catchall charge often used against dissidents and political activists who speak out against the government. Similarly, the Communist Party has also enforced such crackdowns on the growing Islamic population in China as the persecution spreads across the entire religious landscape in China.
Relevant Bible Passages
The level of persecution Chinese Christians are suffering at the hands of the Chinese government reminds us that the Bible clearly teaches that persecution will increase as the end times draw closer (Matthew 10:22). Yet, it is astonishing that in spite of such continued persecution the church in China is growing! More and more Chinese citizens are being convinced of the truth of Christianity as they watch the Christians around them suffer for their faith. This is exactly what James meant when he wrote that we should be joyful when we are persecuted (James 1:2). Moreover, the Bible is replete with admonitions that we should expect to suffer for our faith (Matthew 24:42-44; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3-4). Therefore, let us pray for Christians in China to persevere through their suffering and for believers all around the world to model the perseverance of Chinese Christians as the inevitable persecution arrives.