China Aid June 2014 Newsletter

“Chinese Officials Destroy Massive Church in Zhejiang”
“China tears down church because cross on building ‘too shiny’”

These have been the repeated headlines in international news since May. And ironically this new wave of destruction of church buildings and crosses are done to “legally protected’ government-sanctioned churches.

Why? “[The government] told us the cross was too shiny, too tall and too big,” one man said.

If one forcibly-destroyed church building can be interpreted as an “isolated incident” performed by a local power-abusive official over a permit dispute, as some so-called Chinese church experts were quoted saying,  is the destruction of two or three mega churches an “isolated incident?” What about 20-30 churches?

By  May 18 , days before my testimony to Congress, China Aid investigators had documented 64 churches whose buildings were destroyed or crosses were removed. At China Aid, we noted the irony—the mention of 64 is censored in China because of its connection to the June 4, 1989 (6/4/89) student protests. This month just so happens to mark the 25th anniversary of that bloody crackdown.

The current tragedy that began in late February in coastal Zhejiang province could very well be a test designed by the central government to gauge responses to the new clampdown by both the Church and the international community.

Christians in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, released an open letter in early April, telling the world that churches across the province had been demolished, had their crosses pulled down or ordered not to turn the crosses’ spotlights on at night and more was to come.

In the following weeks, a tense drama unfolded at Wenzhou’s Sanjiang Church, with determined Christians flocking to the church to forestall the demolition. Not surprisingly, authoritarian brute force prevailed, and by the month’s end, the imposing church building was razed. The demolition led to detentions and house arrests, which may well turn into criminal charges, for Christians who bravely tried to defend their rights.

“What do the crosses mean to the Christians?” the open letter asked. “We are definitely not worshipping a material cross,… but this does not mean we should allow anyone to demolish our church’s cross… This is a violent trampling of one’s faith by political power, and it is a brutal attack on the religious feelings of tens of millions…”

The escalating crackdown in Zhejiang could be a harbinger of worsening persecution on a much wider scale. Although we first believed that the events in Zhejiang were localized, secret government documents obtained by China Aid suggest that Zhejiang’s “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” campaign came from the top. In addition to those documents, another secret document, was delivered on March 28 to a meeting of high and mid-level officials. That document mentioned “correct[ing] the phenomenon that religion has grown too fast” and that “leaders in charge of ethnic and religious affairs at various levels should see…the political issues behind the Cross.”

This document left no doubt that China’s Communist authorities are threatened by the rapid growth of religious minorities and that the purpose of this crackdown is to try to contain that growth.

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote from his prison about the enemy of the cross (Phl 3:16-19). It certainly entails a more spiritual way of life. Apparently, the sight of the physical cross has been found so offensive by the dark forces of the Chinese government that it cannot be tolerated, and therefore must be demolished.

Does the Chinese regime choose to embody the enemies of the cross? It would seem so. Should we be pessimistic about the future of Christianity in China? The answer is a resolute “NO.”

Let me tell you another headline that was published ten days before the destruction of Sanjiang Church: “China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years” (The Telegraph, April 19, 2014).

Well, the enemy of the cross will surely, in God’s humorous way, become a blessing to His church and perhaps to the whole world because, according to the same report, China’s Christian population is expected to exceed 247 million by 2030.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]

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