CHINA - 100 Christians Snatched from Underground Church

Arno Froese

About 100 worshippers at an unofficial church in southwestern China were snatched from their homes or from the streets in coordinated raids.

Chinese authorities targeted members of the Early Rain Covenant Church across various districts of Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, in what appeared to be an effort to close down one of the country’s most prominent Protestant house churches.

“The police said our church is an illegal organization and we cannot attend any more gatherings from now on,” said Zhang Guoqing, assistant deacon.

The Early Rain Covenant Church is one of China’s few unofficial house churches—Christian assemblies that operate without state sanction—and this is not the first time Pastor Wang Yi and other members of the church have been detained.

While most of China’s Protestant house churches operate underground to avoid attracting official attention and control, the Early Rain congregation openly practices its faith, posting sermons online and evangelizing on the streets.

Many house churches have been closed this year in China’s harshest religious suppression in decades.

In February the Religious Affairs Regulation was amended to give grass-roots officials more power to act against churches and impose tougher penalties for “unauthorized religious gatherings.”

In Henan and Zhejiang provinces, two of the hardest-hit areas in the religious clampdown, churches have been shut down or even demolished, and their members told to denounce their faith.

The South China Morning Post has learned that a number of elders are still in hiding while many church members were tracked down by police overnight asking them to sign a letter pledging they would not attend further gatherings.

-www.scmp.com, 10 December 2018

Arno's commentary

Persecution of Christians is a prominent subject in the Christian media. Reading only one side of the story makes it difficult to come to a decisive conclusion. While we sympathize with all Christians everywhere, we realize at the same time that we are subject to the prevailing government.

Here a story comes to mind that this writer heard in Europe, while the Wall separated the East from the West. Many so-called underground church members were persecuted for not following the rules and regulations of the government. Others, however, practiced their faith openly based on the country’s laws—being properly registered with the government. One leader was asked, “How was it possible to operate such a large church in East Germany under the communist regime?” He answered: “Follow the rules.” The questioner continued, “What about baptism?” He said, “We did that secretly, and if caught, then we paid the price for violating the law.”

As to communist China, the Church there is well and alive. Whether operating openly or secretly, Jesus is building His Church, and it will be completed one day. We must keep in mind that the living Church is a miracle, or as the apostle Paul writes: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).

Furthermore, the Church is organically related to the nation Israel. Jews all over the world experienced persecution in some places, yet in other places they prospered. Yet, after 2,000 years of persecution, the Jews kept their identity unto this day. Thus it is with the true Church of Jesus Christ; it will continue to grow until the day when the last “lively stone” is added to the spiritual temple. Then that temple will be raptured into the presence of the Lord.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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