Nena Arias | October 8, 2018“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
Chinese Christians are fighting for their faith yet again and reporting that it is even worse than during the cultural revolution under the Mao regime. Their church buildings, even private homes, where people gather to worship, are being shut down or destroyed. Their leaders are being detained and authorities are confiscating and burning Bibles. But many Christians are not being deterred. They say, “we don’t need a church to pray” so they meet out in the street for their prayers.
The persecution of Christians in China never really went away altogether, but it is rapidly escalating once again under the regime of President Xi. It is reported there are a couple of factors that have triggered this new wave of persecution. First, in February of this year, new regulations were passed by the government and are now being put into effect and implemented at the national level, then down to the provincial and even the local levels. The other factor is that in March, President Xi was given a lifetime contract to his presidency and term limits no longer apply to him. This means he can be president as long as he wants. At this time, Xi is 65 years old, so he may have many years to persecute God’s people in China. Even before becoming president, as a provincial leader, one of Xi’s emphasis was controlling religious expression and beliefs. It is interesting that leaders who are in it for themselves are always against God because they want to be god to the people. What Xi put into effect as a provincial leader now is being put into effect in the entire country and it is spreading to every part of China.
The persecution includes the government even coming into home churches and any pictures of Jesus or Bible verses on walls being brought down and dictating that patriotic posters be put up instead. They want people to sing songs exalting the communist party instead of hymns that praise God. They are coercing pastors into accepting cameras with facial recognition to be installed in their churches or homes where people gather to worship so they can identify who gathers there. Those who refuse their churches and homes are shut down.
The churches are changing their strategies and say if we can’t meet in large groups or congregation of hundreds, we need to meet in small groups of 15 or 20 so we need more group leaders. Leadership training becomes a high priority. In other words, the Chinese Christians are not laying down and dying. We know that church persecution in history has always caused people to be more determined to not let go of their faith; it only serves to increase the number of believers with stronger faith. God and his people will not be silenced.
Christians worldwide need to make it a priority to pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters, especially for the Christian young people because they have never experienced anything like this. Their parents and grandparents know how the power of God empowers and protects through dangerous times, but the young people have never seen this. Pray that their faith will not fail them. As a matter of fact, all other Christians in lands where persecution of them and their faith is raging also need our daily fervent prayers.
It is also highly recommended that we voice our opinion to our government to use its influence especially now that trade with China is being emphasized and renegotiated. We must make them aware that trading only in material goods and leaving out freedom of beliefs is not good negotiations for anyone.“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)