Reported by Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com) | Thursday, December 20, 2018
The Chinese communist government continued its crackdown on Christianity by shutting down the nation’s largest underground churches.
A few of China’s prominent churches that were not under the control of the government were recently raided as communist officials seized Bibles, Christian materials and cell phones from church members.
Submit to the state first, God second
One 5,000-member church founded in Guangzhou Province in the 1970s – formerly pastored by the late prominent religious freedom advocate Samuel Lamb – was the latest target of the communist government in its quest to make all Chinese citizens in Christian churches bow down to its authority.
“An underground Protestant church, Guangzhou’s Rongguili Church, was closed and sealed after 60 police and Religious Affairs officials raided it [Sunday] morning,” Asia News reported. “Police entered the building during children’s Bible class, which was cancelled, and seized lists and books and took the names of those present – as well as their mobile phones.”
Rongguili Church and other underground churches that have not yet been forced to join the state’s Three-Self Movement – the Chinese government-controlled Protestant community – are now being targeted to conform to the government’s dictates … or be shut down.
“Since it is an underground Church, its meetings are deemed ‘illegal,’” Asia News’ Wang Zhicheng noted. “Local authorities posted a message on social media telling worshippers to go to 15 other registered Protestant churches.”
“[The Chinese government] knows that a lot of these churches … won’t budge, so they’re thinking of ways to completely shut them down and … dismantle them. I think these Christians, in preparation, knew what might come – but it’s inspiring that despite of that they still want to continue to worship and gather in public to testify their faith.”
Crackdown on Christianity
Shutting down China’s largest underground Protestant churches not submitting to the government’s communist dictates is becoming a trend in the world’s most populous nation, with Rongguili Church’s closure preceded by Beijing’s Zion Church being forced to close it doors in September and the Early Rain Covenant Church having to close down last week.
“The previous Sunday, Dec. 9, the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu was shut down, and more than a dozen Christians were arrested, including Pastor Wang Yi,” WND reported. ”In September, Beijing’s largest unregistered church, the 1,500-member Zion Church, was closed … after refusing a government order to install security cameras in the sanctuary.”
After Wang Li was released from custody, he issued a public statement in defense of his nonviolent resistance to China’s “evil” and “wicked” rulers who authorized the raid of his church.
“I firmly believe that Christ has called me to carry out this faithful disobedience through a life of service, under this regime that opposes the Gospel and persecutes the Church,” Wang Li proclaimed, according to Christianity Today. “This is the means by which I preach the Gospel, and it is the mystery of the Gospel which I preach.”
The vocal and courageous pastor does not plan on relenting to Chinese authorities any time soon.
“Wang declared prior to his arrest that the church would continue to gather in the event of a government shutdown,” WND announced. “World magazine reported [that] 50 to 60 people gathered for worship outdoors this week and were arrested. At least 10 leaders of the Early Rain Church remain in custody. Leaders who have been released said they were shackled, starved and tortured while in detention.”
A call to end the persecution
With the intensifying crackdown on China’s underground church movement, American advocates of the persecuted Church are calling for action against the communist authorities’ crackdown on Christianity.
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – an independent entity created by Congress – recommended in a report last week putting China on the State Department’s “Countries of Particular Concern” list of the world’s worst religious freedom violators,” WND added.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback has called out Chinese President Xi Jingping for reverting to the old ways of the Chinese government.
“China isn’t backing away from the religious persecution,” Brownback asserted, according to CNN. “It seems to be expanding.”
And there are no signs that the communist regime’s incessant attack on the Church will abate any time soon.
“The Chinese government is increasingly concerned about the growth of Christianity – especially among underground communities – and is implementing with ever-growing rigor new regulations on religious activities with the aim of eliminating churches that are not under the control of patriotic associations,” Zhicheng informed. “Recent reports indicate that Beijing’s Cathedral of the Immaculate will also not be spared. In this case, the church will be closed indefinitely for [so-called] ‘repairs,’ Catholic worshippers are invited to use the Church of St Saviour [in] Beitang.”
“Repairs” are reportedly the excuse Chinese authorities are using to at least temporarily shut churches down that do not bow down to their authority.
“For many believers, these ‘repairs’ are just a veiled attempt to hamper Christmas celebrations, which attract thousands of people – even non-Christians – whose curiosity often leads them to the catechumenate,” Zhicheng added. “Conversely, other Catholics believe that ‘repairs’ are needed, but the question remains as to why they should start just a few days before Christmas.”