Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Christians in China Suffer for Supporting Fellow Persecuted Churches

This is what a good Christian does. A good Christian support his persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. This is also the reason for this blog as well. I pray that my Chinese brethren in Christ Jesus will continue to support their persecuted brethren. I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will give the strength to continue to support them even if I face persecution for my Christian faith.
 9/1/11 China (CDN) — Last Sunday (Aug. 28) five members of a house church in Fangshan, Hebei township woke at 4 a.m. and traveled for two hours to a public square in Beijing in order to worship with members of the embattled Beijing Shouwang house church. On their arrival at 7 a.m., waiting police sent the five back to their local police station, according to a report posted Tuesday (Aug. 30) on Shouwang’s Facebook page. Officials then urged them to sign documents repenting of their decision to support the Shouwang church. All five refused but were eventually released.

The Fangshan five are part of a growing wave of house church Christians determined – despite the consequences – to support Shouwang church in its stand for greater religious freedom. Shouwang members have attempted to meet in the outdoor venue every Sunday since April 11, after government officials repeatedly denied them access to a permanent worship place. Church leaders prayerfully decided on this course of action as a means of forcing the government to resolve their dilemma. (See “China Keeps Church Leaders from Public Worship Attempt,” April 11.) Besides the Fangshan church members, police detained at least 15 Shouwang members who turned up for worship last Sunday (Aug. 28), holding them for up to 48 hours in interrogation rooms.

The Domestic Security Protection Squad maintained constant surveillance outside the homes of senior church leaders, while less senior police camped outside the doors of other church members from Saturday night until noon Sunday, when service times were technically over, according to the China Aid Association (CAA).
“If we count the time from April until Christmas as the longest journey, we have gone through half of it,” Shouwang’s leaders said in a message of encouragement to church members last week. “If it is God’s will, he is [then] able to end this journey and make us shout in his victory. But if it is his will for us to continue this journey … let us pray that he will grant us perseverance and hope.”
While the Chinese government claims freedom of religion through approved bodies such as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), many Protestant and Catholic churches prefer to worship independently, rejecting government censorship and theological interference – and paying the price. House church pastor Zhang Rongliang – who has been detained five times and served a total of 12 years in prison – was released last night (Aug. 31) from a Kaifeng prison after being detained since 2004. He was convicted on ambiguous charges in 2007 and has languished in prison while suffering chronic diseases and a stroke in 2007.

Experts estimate there are anywhere between 60 and 130 million people attending unregistered Protestant churches in China, compared with just 23 million attending TSPM churches. During the past decade of relative openness, many of these unregistered churches have come “above ground” to meet in large numbers in public spaces – highlighting the inadequacy of current religious policies and creating a government backlash often targeting church leaders.

“Now the shepherds are separated from the flocks of sheep,” wrote Yuan Xin, a Christian who recently visited Shouwang senior pastor Jin Tianming – currently under house arrest – and described his visit on CAA’s Shouwang petition website. “The sheep are being beaten, but the shepherds cannot stand out to fend off the blows(Source).”

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