Please continue to pray for the house churches of China. The leadership is presently being arrested, one by one. Last week we sent a prayer request for Sister Deborah Xu, but the crisis has grown to become much wider.
According to an article that just appeared in Christianity Today, more than 50 have been arrested due to the recent publication of a DVD and book about the church in China. I have been told that at least some of the house church leaders who agreed to be interviewed for the DVD only did so under the assumption that their testimony was for an historic archive which would not be made public until the political situation in China had changed.
The following Christianity Today article outlines what has happened in recent days: www.christianitytoday.com
Please pray for these brothers and sisters who now find themselves in the custody of an atheistic government who are determined to stamp out the house churches once and for all. They do not mind believers who are part of the state-controlled Three-Self Church, but they cannot stand those believers who refuse to come under their political control.
Please pray they will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to withstand whatever pressure and pain inflicted on them.
Pray God would empower them to witness for Jesus Christ to the authorities, other prisoners, and whoever they come into contact with.
Fervently pray that this present crisis will cause the house churches of China to grow in grace and in number.
Chinese Church Crisis - Asia Harvest
Authored by: Gatekeeper on Saturday, 28 February 2004 @ 09:17 PM SGT
If you are interested in the Chinese church, please take the time to read our following report:
Several days ago we sent out an email regarding the situation for the Church in China. This stemmed from a February 18 article in the greatly-respected Christianity Today, entitled "China Arrests Dozens of Prominent Christians." The article stated, "China's Public Security Bureau has launched a new crackdown on unregistered church leaders, arresting 50 or more people following the release of a new video and book, documenting huge growth among Christians outside the officially permitted church."
The full Christianity Today can be read at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/107/31.0.html
The article went on to name the video as "The Cross: Jesus in China" by the China Soul Foundation, and the recent book by David Aikman, "Jesus in Beijing." Both the DVD and book were unusually open with pictures and testimonies of house church leaders. Communist leaders reportedly viewed the DVD and discussed the book at the annual National Religious Working Conference.
In the days following the Christianity Today article, many other media organizations released stories on this "mass arrest". We also sent out an urgent prayer request immediately after we saw this article, asking friends around the world to pray for the situation.
In the past week we have become more and more aware that many of the claims about the present situation in China appear to have been incorrectly stated. China Soul Foundation, the producers of the DVD, released a letter stating "There is no such thing as "arresting 50 or more people" recently because of the video "The Cross:Jesus in China". It is strictly a rumor spread by government-related personnels to intimidate Chinese Christians." You can view the entire letter at: http://www.asiaharvest.org/newsrpt.htm
After making several phone calls and emails to key China contacts in the past 24 hours, we would like to present an overview of what we have found out. Overall, it is good news!
1. There has not been 50 or more house church leaders arrested in China in the past few weeks. There were some arrests in Nanyang County, Henan Province recently but these did not involve anyone in the book or DVD. Arrests of house church believers in Nanyang are regular occurrences! Three leaders, including Deborah Xu, were arrested about 5 weeks ago. She remains in custody and nobody is able to gather any information about her whereabouts. Please continue to pray for her. However, it cannot be said her arrest was in any way related to the DVD or book (in fact, she did not even appear on the DVD).
2. The main Chinese leaders who did feature in both the book and DVD are still going about their business, and have been visited and spoken to by various people in the past 48 hours. They are aware of the controversy and rumors that have erupted around the world, but none have been arrested. The testimony of one sister, Xiao Min, was featured on the video. Some Chinese churches in the United States have been weeping after they heard Xiao Min was arrested and killed in prison. A friend has visited Xiao Min in the past few days. She says she is doing fine, has great peace in her heart, and is ready to undergo hardship for the Lord if that is what He permits. There is no fear. 85-year old Moses Xie also says he is not afraid at all, and is busy with the Lord's work. He has already spent 23 years in prison for his faith and is not afraid to suffer again. Last weekend he ordained a new missionary from his church. Another brother who features on the video joked, "I am was in prison, I would feel honored! If we all died, then “The Cross” will become the greatest movie ever and everyone will watch it."
The house church leaders of China could echo the famous words of Mark Twain, "Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!"
3. Even though China Soul's DVD and Aikman's book portrayed leaders in a much more open way that normal, there is no justification that this information was gathered in an underhand way. In fact, every leader who has been contacted uncategorically stated they gave their permission to both David Aikman and to China Soul Foundation to be interviewed openly, and with full knowledge that their stance may lead to trouble from the authorities. They weighed up the benefits and disadvantages of appearing in the video and book, and decided that telling their testimonies was worth the risk of personal hardship. In our (Asia Harvest's) initial email, we mentioned, "We have been told that at least some of the house church leaders who agreed to be interviewed for the DVD only did so under the assumption that their testimony was for an historic archive which would not be made public until the political situation in China had changed." We have now been assured that the brothers referred to have met with the producers of the DVD and completely reconciled, and all sides agreed there was a misunderstanding, but no intentional deceit.
4. The one thing that has shocked the house church leaders, and caught them unprepared, is the enormous impact the "The Cross: Jesus in China" DVD has had in China and around the world. It has far surpassed everyone's expectations. One church leader in Beijing has said, “'The Cross' has made a huge impact in the Christian community in Beijing. Not only has it led many people to believe in Christ, but it has revived the Christian brothers and sisters, especially the workers and missionaries. After watching it we were so encouraged and burned by the Holy Spirit’s great work in China. Everyone watched it with tears, repentance, and re-dedication to Christ."
One veteran missionary in China has written, "This series can be properly called, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit in China”. It is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, repentance, forgiveness, and long suffering – all the characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It shows a diverse group of people who are transformed and empowered by God -- ordinary people who have become extraordinary because of a LIVING GOD.... You will hear a blind boy sing of opening the eyes of the world to the love of God, wishing that he could walk around the world in one night to do so. The girl who was imprisoned for three years, along with many who were jailed for few years to 20 over years, all speak of their imprisonment with a smile on their faces. They shared their sufferings as they really were, not with bitterness towards anyone. They are not waving their fists in protest; instead they have expressed forgiveness towards those who have persecuted them. This is the living version of the Book of Acts. It glorifies God alone." In Henan Province a policeman confiscated a copy of the DVD and took it back to the local station for viewing. He was so impacted by what he saw and heard that he returned to the house church the next day, with tears in his eyes, and asked to be baptized!
5. There is general agreement that the part about the DVD and book being discussed at the National Religious Working Conference is true. Consequently, there may well be serious ramifications for the house church leaders. However, they want the Church around the world to fully understand that their lives are completely in the hands of God, and they believe any hardship that may come to them will only be because God permits it. They are all willing to endure hardship, even death if necessary, and will count it all worthwhile because of the many thousands of souls that are being won to Christ because of these powerful resources. Their lives are completely motivated by two things: glorifying God and winning lost souls for Jesus Christ. Any activity that accomplishes these two things is considered worthwhile, no matter what personal cost is involved.
6. Some people have asked us if we think it is right for them to watch the DVD. In light of the above information and the fact many thousands of the DVDs are already in circulation inside China and have even reportedly been viewed by the government, we don't see any need for people to boycott it. In fact, the very reason the Chinese house church leaders put their faces and stories on film was so that people would watch it, and be blessed and encouraged to live more wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ. If you are interested, the DVD (available in both English and Chinese) is available from The Voice of the Martyrs website: http://www.persecution.com/news/index.cfm
while David Aikman's book "Jesus in Beijing" is available from http://www.amazon.com
God bless you,
Palestine, TX 75802
Tel: (877) 868-5025
Fax: (877) 868-5025