October 14, 2010
BEIJING — The 3rd International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from October 16 through October 25. Over the years, the Lausanne Congress has attracted the attention of people from all over the world. This year, the event will be attended by about 4,000 church leaders from over 200 nations.
Under the leadership of Billy Graham, the first Lausanne Congress convened in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland. About 2,700 Christian leaders from 150 countries were in attendance, and when adding in observers, reporters and guests, the number of participants totaled over 4,000 people. After this congress, the Lausanne Covenant was created.
In July 1989, the 2nd Lausanne Congress met in Manila, Philippines. On the first night, there were 200 vacant seats. These seats were meant for the Chinese Christians, who could not make the trip due to government interference. Nevertheless, there was an expectation that the Chinese church would someday be able to join this fellowship of Christians from around the world.
Over the past few months, the Chinese government has been suppressing the 200 house church representatives who have been invited to attend this year’s Lausanne Congress. According to information obtained by ChinaAid, all the representatives, whether Uyghur Christians from Xinjiang or Han Christians from Beijing, have been contacted by authorities for questioning. It is sad to report, but family members of the invitees have also been threatened.
Two house church Christians from Baotou City, Inner Mongolia were stopped by officials before they departed for South Africa. On October 9, one of them was placed under a 15-day detention.
Five house church invitees were stopped by customs officials at the airport on October 10, and four had their passports confiscated. One was detained.
Dr. Fan Yafeng is a prominent legal scholar, leader of the Chinese Christian Legal Defense Association (defenders of religious freedom, human rights and rule of law in China for years), and winner of the 2009 John Leland Religious Liberty Award. He was harassed by Beijing police on October 12 after accepting an interview from National Public Radio pertaining to the Lausanne Congress. Twenty police officers were assigned to stop him from leaving his apartment.
According to inside sources, approximately 100 house church members and pastors will be arriving at Beijing International Airport to depart for the Lausanne Congress. On October 13, 2010, about 1,000 police officers arrived to prepare to restrain the believers and prevent them from boarding planes. The officers will have about a 10-to-1 advantage over the house church Christians.
Dr. Fan commented that underground Chinese Christians should not naively put hope in the Chinese Communist regime, and should place their trust in God, and continue to non-violently strive for religious freedom, human rights, rule of law and democracy in China. Dr. Fan strongly supports legal defense as a very effective tool. He also strongly criticized the persecution of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr. Liu Xiaobo and his wife by Chinese government.
It has been 21 years since the Manila gathering, and tens of millions of Christians in China are thriving in the Church of Jesus Christ, and China experiences the fastest growth of Christians.
With that said, how long will we have to wait for the 200 unoccupied seats meant for representatives of China to be filled?
Article 13 of the Lausanne Covenant reads as follows:
“It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of the nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practice and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable. (1 Tim. 2:1-4; Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21).”
ChinaAid will continue to closely watch and report on upcoming developments.
ChinaAid calls on the organizers of the Lausanne Congress to refuse to be intimidated during these critical moments and speak out on behalf of the persecuted Christians who have been invited to attend. The organizers are also called to denounce the Chinese government for its suppression of the house churches representatives in China.