Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 15 March 2011
Lent Prayer - China
Project(s): 09-780, 09-879, 09-923
Country/Region: China, South and East Asia
The “house churches” of China live life on the edge. Because they refuse to register with the state, the authorities regard them as “unstable social elements” that threaten the building of a “harmonious society”. The churches suffer frequent harassment, including the arrest and detention of their leaders, the closure and demolition of their buildings, and restrictions and violent attacks on their members.
|Dr Fan Yafeng, a Chinese church leader who has been repeatedly arrested and detained because of his Christian activities (Source: ChinaAid)|
In December 2010 the government launched a new attack on Christians in the house-church movement, labelling it a “cult”. This initiative, named “Operation Deterrence”, dashed hopes that the official persecution of the unregistered churches might be about to end. The authorities do permit the practice of Christianity, but only under the authority of the state-controlled churches. The activities of these denominations are tightly controlled. Religious belief is also regarded as incompatible with Communist party membership, and this means that Christians are denied access to almost all high-level jobs.
Christianity has a long history in China. It was present by the 6th century, and in the 19th and early 20th centuries the number of Christians increased rapidly, leading to waves of persecution. After 1949 the Communist government tried to bring the churches under state control, and during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) all Christian activity was forced underground, leading to the formation of secret house churches.
But after restrictions were relaxed somewhat in the late 1970s, the churches began to grow at an astonishing rate. Although reliable figures on the number of Christians in China are not available, the authorities recently admitted that there are over 50 million in the unregistered networks, in addition to the same number in the official churches.
Barnabas Aid projects in China include:
- China General Fund (Ref. 09-780)
- Support for family of Christian prisoner (09-879)
- Support for Christian workers (Ref. 09-923)
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2011” - order your FREE copy here.