"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
"The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits" (Daniel 11:32).
How does the Chinese Church view the Current Persecution?
The Church in China has encountered horrific persecution many times throughout its history, but it has always come through, albeit battered and bruised, to the other side by God's grace and power. Many elderly church leaders in China were deeply concerned that the present generation of Christians had grown lazy and were less committed to Christ as in previous decades. Due to the inrush of materialism that has gripped China, old pastors who had survived the onslaughts of the 1960s to 1980s were afraid for the current generation of house church leaders, many of whom had never experienced real, physical persecution for the Gospel.
Accordingly, many church leaders in China see the current crisis as an opportunity for the Body of Christ to grow. They pray the persecution will once again sift the Church removing false believers from the congregations while strengthening the faith of all who are willing to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus, even to death if necessary.
The hope is that the Body of Christ in China will emerge from this latest storm stronger and more Christ-like than they entered it, and the Church will be refined like pure gold. Consequently, they will be ready to push on and lead many tens of millions of lost people into the family of God, both inside China and in the surrounding nations.
Why is the Chinese Government so Opposed to Christianity?
Although multitudes of normal Chinese have been attracted to Jesus Christ and have willingly surrendered their lives to Him, the Communist leaders of the nation have always been hard-line atheists who see all belief in God as nonsense and a sign of weakness. President XiJinping, who appears to be a gentle, kind-natured man, is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a famous Communist soldier and revolutionary leader. The very foundation of Communism is atheism. They cannot tolerate faith in God, and over the past century tens of millions of people have been slaughtered throughout the world in pursuit of this God-hating system.
The real problem in this world is not politics, but sin. Only by preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ can people be saved and their sins atoned for, and that's what we strive to do in Asia every single day.
If God doesn't exist, then the Communists have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately for them, however, Jesus is alive and He will judge them severely for all their wicked deeds! No person or government can thwart the plans of Jesus Christ! Thousands of years ago another Godless and arrogant ruler found that he was no match for the Living God, and he humbly declared:
"His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'" (Daniel 4:34-35).
China's leaders may think they have power to do what they want to the Church, but they do not! The Lord Jesus Christ has been given all power and authority on heaven and on earth, and His kingdom will continue to spread. No man or man-made system will stop it, and history is littered with the wreckage of kings and presidents who got in the way of God's purposes.
Lessons from the Story of Bian He
An ancient Chinese book tells about a man named Bian He who lived some 500 years before Christ: One day, Bian found a large stone which was actually an unpolished piece of jade. He presented it to the emperor, but the emperor saw nothing but a large stone, thought he was being tricked, and ordered Bian He's left foot to be chopped off. Bian later sent the same present to the next emperor, who also saw only a stone and ordered his right foot to be chopped off. When a third emperor came to the throne, Bian held his jade in his arms outside the palace and wept for three days and three nights. The emperor sent someone to investigate, and then ordered the stone to be polished. Only then did they discover the beautiful jade within.
To their dismay, one day China (and many other nations) will discover that the Christians they torture and oppress, whom they suppose to be ignorant lumps of worthless stone, are actually the polished jewels sent by God to bring the blessing of Christ's salvation to them.
A Joint Statement by 116 House Church Leaders
After more than 30 years of serving the house churches in China, we have never known them to be timid, even in the face of fierce opposition. We were not surprised, therefore, when a group of 116 church leaders recently publicly posted an open letter to the government, in which they defiantly stated their intent to follow Jesus Christ regardless of the cost. The full text of their statement, in both English and Chinese, along with their real names and churches, can be found on our website. Below is a summary of their key points:
"We are a group of Chinese Christians, chosen by the Most High God to be His humble servants, serving as pastors for Christian churches throughout various towns and cities... We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the one true and living Triune God is the Creator of the universe, of the world, and of all people. All men should worship God and not any man or thing. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that all men, from national leaders to beggars and prisoners, have sinned. They will die once and then be judged in righteousness. Apart from the grace and redemption of God, all men would eternally perish...
In September 2017, the State Council issued the new 'Regulations on the Administration of Religious Affairs' and began implementing these regulations in February 2018. Since then, Christian churches across China have suffered varying degrees of persecution, contempt, and misunderstanding from government departments during public worship and religious practices, including administrative measures that attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith. Some of these violent actions are unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution. They include demolishing crosses on church buildings... forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations controlled by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or to sing secular songs praising the State and political parties, banning the children of Christians from entering churches and receiving religious education, and depriving churches and believers of the right to gather freely.
We believe that these unjust actions are an abuse of government power and have led to serious conflicts in Chinese society. These actions infringe on the human freedoms of religion and conscience and violate the universal rule of law. We are obligated to announce bad news to the authorities and to all of society: God hates all attempts to suppress human souls and all acts of persecution against the Christian Church, and he will condemn and judge them with righteous judgement. But we are even more obligated to proclaim this Good News to the authorities and to all of society: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Savior and King of mankind, in order to save us sinners was killed, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God, destroying the power of sin and death. In His love and compassion God has prepared forgiveness and salvation for all who are willing to believe in Jesus, including Chinese people. At any time, anyone can repent from any sin, tum to Christ, fear God, obtain eternal life, and bring great blessing from God upon his family and country...
Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith. We are willing and obligated under any circumstance to face all government persecution, misunderstanding, and violence with peace, patience, and compassion. For when churches refuse to obey evil laws, it does not stem from any political agenda or from resentment or hostility; it stems only from the demands of the Gospel and from a love for Chinese society...
We believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of Church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the Church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any 'ban' or 'fine' imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the Gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses even the loss of our freedom and our lives."
The Desperate Hunger for God's Word
Since 1988, when the founders of Asia Harvest first started providing Bibles to the house churches in China, we have done all we can, under the power and enablement of the Spirit of God, to print and distribute the Word of God to the 60-80 million house church believers in China.
In the past year, the need for Bibles has become greater than at any time in our history! The massive persecution that is underway has made it even more difficult for Christians to access the Scriptures, as the government cracks down tightly on every aspect of Christian life.
A decade ago, we can think of a dozen or more mission organizations helping to provide Bibles to China's house churches. One by one, we have seen those ministries stop this crucial activity. Some have been intimidated and expelled from the country; others have compromised in one way or another and been forced to close down or move on. Tragically, it appears Asia Harvest is now one of very few ministries remaining that is still helping fill this vital need among the house churches.
As you have just read, the house church leaders of China have made a statement of intent to continue serving Jesus Christ no matter what. A few years ago, when we first learned about the massive, systematic plan to wipe out the house churches, we felt that this will be a major spiritual battle for the soul of China.
If the Church is refined and comes through stronger than ever, maintaining its zeal for reaching the lost, we can imagine the number of Christians in China doubling or even tripling in size in the next 10 or 15 years. Satan is committed to doing all he can to stop that happening. This battle for the eternal destiny of one billion souls is the reason behind the massive persecution.
One thing is for sure: If the revival in China that has swept more than 100 million people into the kingdom of God under Communism is to continue and expand, the Word of God will be needed to establish and give vision to believers throughout the land. While the delivery of Scripture via all means is welcome electronic Bibles, downloads, video, audio and other ways our determination is to continue helping the way we know best and what the Chinese believers ask for the most. We plan to continue providing full, paper Chinese Bibles for as cheaply as possible, to as many believers as we can, as long as God gives us breath.
Recently, Asia Harvest passed the all-time milestone of having successfully delivered 11 million Bibles to China's house churches. We plan to continue doing so as long as the Lord gives His grace and keeps the door open for us. All of our projects in China remain active. In fact, we are on track to print more Bibles in China this year than any other year since 2014. We appreciate your prayer support at this crucial time in the history of the Church in China.
While you have probably heard about the need for Bibles in China for many years, we ask you not to grow weary. The Word of God is needed more than ever just to meet the needs of new converts who are coming to faith. We invite you to pray for the Chinese Church and for the Bible project, for the supernatural protection of everyone involved in the process, and for the triumph of God's people over adversity.
Asia Harvest continues to print and deliver full Bibles to the house churches in China for $1.80 per Bible. If you would like to partner with us to help our Chinese brothers and sisters, please send a donation along with the enclosed yellow response form. Alternatively, one-time or monthly donations can be set up at our secure website.
Thanks to the grace of God and your prayers and generous support, Asia Harvest recently passed the milestone of 11 million Chinese Bibles printed and delivered to the house churches in China. Our co-workers provide detailed reports, allowing us to keep track of the Bibles we print and to create this distribution map. On behalf of all the grateful believers in China, thank you and God bless you!
SI Moderator - Greg