BEIJING — Members
of a persecuted church in China
are under pressure from an unexpected source: self-proclaimed Christians.
a large, illegal house church in Beijing,
is enduring its 11th week of government persecution over its repeated attempts
to hold outdoor worship services in a public square. The government pressured
the church out of its rented building earlier this year.
On Sunday, June 12, Chinese authorities rounded up 14 church members attempting
to meet and brought them to police stations for questioning. But this
interrogation, and that of the previous Sunday, brought a disturbing new twist,
according to the religious freedom monitoring organization ChinaAid. In
addition to police and government interrogators, the Shouwang
Church members faced
representatives of China’s
government-approved church, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
“(I)n the past two Sundays, Three-Self church personnel showed up at many
police stations to persuade, ‘educate’ and even rebuke the imprisoned brothers
and sisters in an attempt to get them to leave Shouwang Church and join one of
the Three-Self churches or to ask us to unconditionally abandon our outdoor
worship,” said a Shouwang Church announcement posted by ChinaAid.
ChinaAid also quoted a Shouwang Church
member who wrote that interrogators even tried to raise theological issues by
discussing whether the church’s actions were biblical.
“This surprised me greatly,” the Shouwang member wrote. “Perhaps this will be
their approach from now on.”
In China, only
churches officially registered as part of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement are
considered legal. But registration places churches under the yoke of government
regulations that restrict things like evangelism, Sunday School and baptizing
teens and children.
Furthermore, says ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, the Three-Self
Patriotic Movement is run by government-appointed leaders, many of whom are
Communist Party members.
“(It) is nothing but a political organization with a religious uniform,” Fu
has suffered for defying the government’s demands. Members attempting to gather
for outdoor worship have been arrested for nine straight weeks: 160 the first
week, about 50 the second week, approximately 40 the third week, about 30 the
fourth week, 13 the fifth week, 20 the sixth week, 25 the seventh week, at
least 20 the eighth week, and 14 the ninth week. It is not yet known how many
were arrested Sunday, June 19. Most of the church’s 1,000 members are now under
weekend house arrest, and all of its leaders have been confined to their homes
for weeks. Some members have even lost their jobs or been evicted from their
homes due to government pressure on employers and landlords.
“Even though we get tired, our God is a God who ‘neither sleeps nor slumbers’
and ‘gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,’” the
church said. “In this race, may we not look at our weakness and fatigue but
rather keep our eyes always on the Lord Jesus Christ who is the author and
finisher of our faith, believing that whatever perfect work He has begun will,
at his appointed time, surely bear fruit.”
says that, no matter what persecution it faces, it will only exalt Jesus as
“A half-century ago, these attempts came to nothing with those of the older
generation who chose imprisonment rather than give up their principles; we
believe that today these attempts will also come to nothing with our generation
of Christian believers.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Evans is a freelance writer.)