According to a report issued by the Pew Research Center in February of 2018, Christians are persecuted more than any other religious followers in the world — and Beijing is the worst offender of them all.
Unfortunately, this troublesome reality presented itself clearly on July 5, 2018. On this day, a group of thugs hired by China’s communist government showed up at Zion Church, the largest house church in China’s capital of Beijing. International Christian Concern, ICC, a persecution charity, reported that the ruffians prevented church members from getting to the third floor of Zion Church’s Yizhuang campus where a worship service was underway. The troublemakers also charged the Christians with being involved with a “cult.”
Church members outlined the ongoing government persecution of their place of worship in a prayer request sent to fellow believers through WeChat on July 8, 2018. WeChat is a widely used Chinese messaging app. Allegedly, six people blocked the entrance to the church and prohibited believers from trying to unlock the government-mandated padlocks. The thugs also thwarted a church administrator’s attempt to enter the place of worship in order to retrieve church documents and computers. Zion Church’s Yizhuang campus has already prepaid its rent for another quarter. The lease of the building isn’t up for renewal until the year 2020. Despite all of this, believers were banned from worshipping in their own church.
Zion Church consists of eight campuses throughout the Chinese capital of Beijing. More than 1,500 believers regularly attend one of its congregations. Due to seeing it as a potential threat, the Chinese communist government has recently ratcheted up its attacks on the massive church. In April of 2018, government authorities in Beijing told the church to put surveillance cameras inside their place of worship. When the church leaders didn’t cooperate, the anti-Christian government shut off the place of worship’s water and the electricity to its elevator. Authorities also attempted to coerce the church’s landlord to decline renewing their lease.
In May of 2018, communal and residential authorities reportedly began offering church members bribes in order to leave their place of worship. In exchange for leaving their church, Christians were allegedly offered educational opportunities for their kids, financial benefits, and solutions for job related issues. ICC noted that the believers who turned down the bribes have been placed under surveillance. China Aid reported that Zion Church’s WeChat public account was blocked on June 12, 2018. Subsequently, all of their videos of sermons shared with other Christian websites have been confiscated.
Commenting about the recent persecution of Christians in China, ICC’s Regional Manager, Gina Goh remarked, “The latest crackdown against house churches in China is reflective of President Xi’s disregard for religious freedom. China is experiencing the worst Christian persecution since Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.”
“The US and international community should not turn a blind eye to the injustices committed against Chinese Christians. Let us continue to pray for strength and wisdom for the Church in China as they navigate through intensified oppression,” she added.
On June 10, 2018, approximately 30 Chinese government officials stormed into a Christian place of worship in Guangzhou Guangdong. Besides heavily fining the church for illegally gathering, the officials arrested the pastor of the congregation, Huang Xiaoning, while he was delivering his sermon. Huang and three other believers were hauled off and interrogated for several hours. The fine for conducting religious activities equated to 7,685.45 U.S. dollars. The Chinese communist government contended the building church goers gathered in violated Article 41 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs.
Huang promised to fight the atrocities committed against his church. He said he plans to seek legal means “in order to become witnesses on God’s behalf.” The pastor of 20 years also boldly proclaimed, “I don’t [own] a car or a house. I don’t owe anything. Awhile ago [people] asked me, ‘Pastor Huang, aren’t you afraid of being fined?’ I answered, ‘No, I don’t have any money for them to confiscate.’” Huang went on to state, “They also asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being imprisoned?’ I said that I never feared imprisonment, since I never even feared death.”
~ 1776 Christian