China Launches New Crackdown on Underground-Church Movement

by | Apr 30, 2004 | Charisma Archive

Several prominent house-church leaders have been arrested since January in an intensified wave of religious persecution
Christians in China are expecting a spiritual revival to follow a new wave of persecution on the unregistered churches in the communist nation, says the head of a Pennsylvania-based organization dedicated to raising awareness about religious liberty abuses in China.


Bob Fu, head of China Aid Association based in Glenside, Pa., says believers in China are expecting a recent crackdown on the underground church to result in hundreds coming to Christ. “They feel another round of revival is coming,” Fu told Charisma. “Whenever there is a major wave of persecution … there is a major spiritual revival.”


Since January several prominent house-church leaders have been arrested, including Deborah Xu Yongling, 58, the sister of Peter Xu Yongze, founder of the Born Again church movement, which has millions of followers. Police reportedly arrested her Jan. 24 in Henan province while she was sleeping at her niece’s house, Asia Harvest reported. After significant international pressure, she was released on bail March 15, China Aid said.


Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reported that also on Jan. 24, police arrested Qiao Chunling, 41, who is closely associated with Li Tian’en, one of China’s most prominent house-church leaders. The following day Zeng Guangbo, 35, was arrested at a house church in Zengzhuang village, located in Henan province, China Aid Association said. A former military policeman who was fired in 1988 because of his work with the underground church, Zeng escaped two days later, but police rearrested him March 1 when he tried to pass through the Inner-Mongolia border into Russia.


The arrests came after top leaders from the Religious Affairs Bureau and the United Front Work Department, which oversee religion in China, viewed a four-hour documentary titled The Cross: Jesus in China by California-based China Soul for Christ, and were briefed on a recent book, Jesus in Beijing, by journalist David Aikman. Both works document the unprecedented growth of the underground church in China.


Aikman, a former China correspondent for Time magazine, said none of the leaders arrested recently were named in his book. He said he carefully masked the identities of others. “I don’t, frankly, think any of the older [house-church leaders] were picked up as a result of my book,” Aikman told Charisma. “They are hardly news to the authorities.


“This is just one of a series of crackdowns. I hope it is short-lived. … But if you pretend nothing is going on, you do tremendous disservice to the Chinese Christians, who have been [facing persecution] for years.”


The video, written and directed by Christian pro-democracy leader Yuan Zhiming, clearly shows the faces of several house-church leaders who agreed to be interviewed before the camera. But China Soul for Christ President Wenji Xie said the documentary had nothing to do with the recent arrests.


“The situation [in China] is the same,” he told Charisma, adding that there may have been an increase in arrests in certain areas. “This is part of their annual crackdown. They always do this right after the Chinese New Year.”


Fu said a heightened repression of the house-church movement had been in motion for more than a year. But he believes it may have intensified after participants in the National Religious Working Conference saw the video and were briefed on the book.


“Maybe they used this as a pretext, an excuse, to do more,” Fu said. “From the beginning of 2003 until now, almost every province has been affected by the campaign to stop the growth of the house-church movement.”


Fu said the government may treat incarcerated Christians in much the same way they treated members of the Falun Gong cult, subjecting them to brainwashing, torture and political study camps, or forcing them to sign a paper renouncing their faith or join a state-sanctioned church.


Christian advocacy groups encourage believers in the West to write letters to the Chinese Embassy, the U.S. ambassador to China and congressional leaders. To that end, VOM recently launched a Web site, www.PrisonerAlert.com, dedicated to mobilizing Christians to write letters of encouragement to Christians imprisoned for their faith and to relevant officials.


At press time, journalist Li Ying was pictured on the site. She is currently serving a 15-year sentence for producing an underground-church magazine. By mid-March, VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton said more than 1,400 people had written her letters, which were translated into Chinese at the site.
Adrienne S. Gaines

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Why God is Laughing at Their World Domination Plans

Why God is Laughing at Their World Domination Plans

They will make the greatest bid for world domination in history. It is no longer just armies that threaten freedom—it is corporations and corrupt politicians. I believe that evil in all of its vile colors is even now rising to try to crush our freedom and our...

The Power of a Generational Vision for Your Family

The Power of a Generational Vision for Your Family

Have you noticed that no matter how good you’re doing, trouble always seems to come? Trouble is not an “if” in life. It’s a “when.” Trouble may come in finances, a diagnosis, a family problem or even a season of hardship. But understand this: there is more than one...

Why You Can Say With Confidence That ‘God Saved the Queen’

Why You Can Say With Confidence That ‘God Saved the Queen’

It’s strange being a British-born American. The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II was another reminder of how my British and my American self often see things from different perspectives. Now living in the UK, I made the pilgrimage to London last weekend to pay my...

Dr. Alveda King’s Urgent Message for Christians

Dr. Alveda King’s Urgent Message for Christians

On Sept. 1 President Joe Biden took the stage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and called MAGA Americans a "threat to democracy." He emboldened Americans to join him in defending democracy against the millions of people who support President Donald Trump. After listening...

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: Don’t Deceive Yourself

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: Don’t Deceive Yourself

People are deceived by pride, by sin, by evil people, by strong drink and by living in fear. If a person is teachable and adheres to the instructions found in the Bible, they will recognize any errors in their thinking and correct themselves. For the rest of this...

RECENT ARTICLES

How You Can Partner with the Holy Spirit for an Unprecedented Harvest of Souls

What is the Great Harvest ultimately about? It is God’s great, deep love for all those whom He has created. It is about His desire that no one should perish, but that everyone should be saved and be...
8 Contrasts Between the Confessing and Compromising Church

8 Contrasts Between the Confessing and Compromising Church

During the days of Nazi Germany, there arose a Confessing church movement that rose against the German church movement, which became the religious arm of the Fascist Nazi Socialist movement. Of the 18,000 pastors in Germany during that time (from 1933 to 1945), less...

Is America Preparing the Way for a One-World Ruler?

Is America Preparing the Way for a One-World Ruler?

The culmination of history is approaching. The end of the world may be at hand. Yet Jesus tells us we should not be alarmed. Why? Because we are engraved in the palms of His hands. Because we are carried in His arms. Because we are the apple of His eye. The time is...

Joyce Meyer: How You Can Make God’s Love Your Lifestyle

Joyce Meyer: How You Can Make God’s Love Your Lifestyle

I have made it a priority to study about love in the Word of God. Getting a revelation about how much God loves me and learning to receive His love has been life-changing for me. It’s been the key to being able to really enjoy my life because when I received God’s...

Pin It on Pinterest