(Photo: China Aid)
China Aid Association
(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—April 8, 2014) Christians in Wenzhou, in China’s coastal Zhejiang province, released a letter to the public on Friday, explaining their spiritual perspective in regards to the recent demolition order on Sanjiang Church and other local churches. The letter, which can be read below, also asks for support from the worldwide Christian community.
Translated and edited by China Aid
April 4, 2014
May grace and peace from the only omnipotent and glorious God and the Lord Jesus, who we worship, be upon you!
“I believe in the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints” is the common faith of all true Christians. Not only do we say we believe in this faith, but also, we should express through our actions that we, the brothers and sisters in Christ, are connected to each other and we should give our bitter testimony thereon!
Recently, there have been vicious incidents in various places of Zhejiang in which crosses and churches are being demolished. Even for the churches that have not been asked to demolish their own crosses, they have been told not to turn on the light on their cross at night. After Hangzhou, Yuhang, Zhoushan and other places [faced some sort of demolition], many churches in Wenzhou are facing forced demolition.
Last year, Sanjiang Church in Oubei, Yongjia County was commended by the Wenzhou government as a model for architecture. Now, however, the government makes all-out efforts and is determined to demolish the church. The brothers and sisters of this church and brothers and sisters from various places in Wenzhou, who have come to support the church, have been singing, praying and gathering in the holy hall of the church for nearly a month. Among them, many take turns to watch and pray 24 hours a day.
Not only this is happening, but in Yueqing city alone, churches in Dajing, Baixiang, Jiangjiaqiao and other places have all received a notice to demolish the crosses or their church buildings.
Today, more than a hundred people tried to tear down the nursing home belonging to Jiangjiaqiao Church without success. We are honest to you [by telling you] that a few churches are indeed suspected of having violated the building codes as they got an oral approval while the official paperwork was being processed. In these cases, the churches are willing to make a compromise in making changes to the structure and process the needed paperwork. However, we have noted that some churches have been there for more than 10 years or even longer than that.
|The words “demolish” and “illegal construction” were spray-
painted on the front of Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou. (Photo:
The church employees have been warned that if they don’t demolish their crosses or part of the structures of their church, the government will punish their businesses. Almost all Christians in Wenzhou are engaged in businesses, they are moved by the persistence of the church, and they need support from brothers and sisters from various places. As for the reason why this situation has got so bad, the explanation from the ordinary people in the street is because an official from Zhejiang provincial government saw the crosses on top of the churches when he was inspecting Wenzhou (especially at night). He said one sentence to the effect that the entire view of this place is taken over by the crosses. The continuous “forced demolitions” in this period of time shows this is a conspicuous persecution!
What do the crosses mean to the Christians? We are definitely not worshipping a material cross, and we can even build a church without a cross, but this does not mean we should allow anyone to demolish our church’s cross at will. This is a violent trampling of one’s faith by the political power, and it is a brutal attack on the religious feelings of tens of millions of believers. Just think of this: what organization would willingly allow people to insult their flag? As is known to all, the cross is a symbol of Christian belief, and the purpose of tearing down the cross is clear and obvious. Just as [John] Calvin said: “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”
The discussion of tangible and intangible crosses has become a factor in this incident: those brothers and sisters of ours who are bravely protecting the crosses have demonstrated the spirit of the intangible cross. Those who want to make a compromise in order to protect the cross in their hearts have just evaded the road of the cross. Whatever we have here, we will give it to him/her! How can we not worry when someone is persecuted? Today, no matter whether they come from a TSPM church or a house church, they are of one family in Christ. This persecution is like scenes from the Cultural Revolution: uphold the faith of the cross in one’s heart! It is necessary for us to say that one of the major differences between churches in the Wenzhou area and the churches elsewhere is that the demarcation line between TSPM churches and house churches [in Wenzhou] is relatively blurry. Some TSPM churches are more independent than house churches, Sanjiang Church is one of the examples, while some house churches are becoming more and more like TSPM churches.
Meanwhile, it is necessary for us to clarify that no one can guarantee that they can definitely protect the churches, such as the cases that happened during the Cultural Revolution, but this does not make any difference in our faith. A tangible church can be destroyed, but a holy, spiritual temple can be formed in our hearts. Therefore, this is not a dispute on material things, but a spiritual fight. During the Cultural Revolution, churches in Wenzhou were all sealed or destroyed, but that brought about an unprecedented revival of Christianity in Wenzhou. We have reasons to believe that this is just a prelude [to another spiritual revival]! The grace of the Lord is vast and immense! Today, we’ll enter another phase! It is said in the Scripture: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.” This temple is the fellowship of the saints and it is our position!
Here, we implore you to pray for us, show concern for us and join us in this spiritual campaign so that we can hoist the cross in this Land of the Divine! “In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever!” Amen.
China Aid Contacts