The Persecuted Church in China

by Albert Mohler

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18

The church is known as Shouwang, or the Lighthouse. It is located in Beijing, but it does not have a building. What it does have is enemies — and chief among them is the Chinese government.

As The New York Times reports, the Shouwang Church is a so-called house church, even though its membership and attendance would outstrip any residence. The key issue is that Shouwang is one of China’s thousands of unregistered churches. This is true, even though Shouwang has applied for registration.

In recent months, the church even raised $4 million to purchase a building. Instead, the church was forced into the streets, where its members were arrested for the crime of public prayer.

Evicted yet again from its meeting place by the authorities, Shouwang announced this month that its congregants would worship outside rather than disband or go back underground. Its demands were straightforward but bold: allow the church to take possession of the space it had legally purchased. Officials responded with a clenched fist. On Sunday, for the second week in a row, the police rounded up scores of parishioners who tried to pray outdoors at a public plaza. Most of the church’s leadership is now in custody or under house arrest. Its Web site has been blocked.

This is a truly alarming development, but it is actually in keeping with the periodic repression of Christians that has been demanded by the Chinese Communist Party. The church has maintained a steadfastly nonpolitical stance, but the Chinese government clearly sees this church — and the thousands like it — as a threat.

As the paper reports, China has been cracking down on dissent in recent months. Churches in Guangzhou have had their facilities taken away. The advocacy group China Aid claims that at least 3,343 Chinese house church members were detained or beaten in 2010. Some experts estimate that two-thirds of China’s Christians worship in house churches.

This current outbreak of persecution may have been sparked by the Chinese government’s outrage over plans by some house church leaders to attend the recent Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in South Africa. Most of the leaders were detained and prevented from attending the meeting…

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