Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 28 February 2012
Lent Prayer - China
Project(s): 09-780, 09-879
Country/Region: South and East Asia, China
Shouwang Church, one of the largest unregistered churches (“house churches”) in Beijing, was evicted from its leased meeting space by the government in April 2011. The authorities had repeatedly blocked the church’s attempts to rent or buy premises for holding services. So the Christians took the bold decision to worship in public, and at the time of writing they have been meeting in an open-air plaza for eight months. As a result, many church members have been detained, placed under house arrest or deprived of their homes and jobs.
|Christians from a church in Tai’an sit in the rubble of their ruined building
Image source: www.chinaaid.org
The Chinese government regard the house churches as “unstable social elements” that threaten the building of a “harmonious society”. Often their leaders are arrested and thrown into jail for extended periods, where they may be beaten or tortured. Their members may also be subject to violent attacks. A report published in 2011 showed that persecution of the country’s Christians increased every year between 2005 and 2010.
The authorities permit the practice of Christianity only under the authority of the national, state-controlled churches, and the activities of these denominations are subject to tight control and arbitrary treatment. In late 2011 developers began to demolish a church belonging to the offi cial Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Tai’an, Shandong province. The government had approved the action despite the building having protected status. Moreover, because religious belief is seen as incompatible with Communist Party membership, even Christians in the state churches are denied access to almost all high-level jobs.
Yet despite the restrictions and persecution, the Chinese churches are growing very rapidly. Reliable fi gures are unavailable, but even the authorities admit that there are over 50 million in the unregistered churches, in addition to the same number in the offi cial denominations. The real number may be twice as high.
Barnabas Fund projects include:
- China General Fund (Ref. 09-780)
- Support for family of Alimujiang Yimiti, a convert from Islam in prison for his Christian activities (Ref. 09-879)
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2012” -.