China’s concern over its international image, which will be in a global spotlight when the 2008 Olympics are held there, may be fueling a crackdown on Christians, according to
the Voice of the Martyrs, which is reporting a new round of persecution there.
Earlier, WND documented reports from VOM, which monitors and publicizes instances of persecution of Christians worldwide, that a Christian was jailed in China for no more than walking near the construction site of a hotel being prepared for the 2008 games.
Now officials are reporting that in just the past few weeks, the increasing attacks have included the arrests of several house-church leaders who were accused of being “suspects using evil cults to obstruct the enforcement of the law.”
VOM is reporting a Chinese church organization has confirmed that authorities told family members of the detained pastors “any religious activities without permission from the government Religious Affairs Bureau are regarded as evil cult activities.”
Meanwhile, as WND reported earlier, an estimated 3,000 people are being added daily to the Christian church in China, mostly the house-churches that do not register with the government and therefore are considered part of those “evil cult activities.”
VOM also is reporting that 12 more house-church leaders were arrested while they were distributing Bibles in a market in Shaanxi province in recent weeks.
While four were released the same day, the rest were transferred to a detention center with no explanation, and the homes belonging to two detained pastors – Zhou Jieming and Niu Wenbin – were searched by police and their Bibles and literature were confiscated, the VOM said.
Now Christian leaders in China fear the pastors could be sent to one of China’s famous “re-education” camps for extended periods.
At about the same time, another six house-church leaders were arrested while having a house-church service in Zhangba village, Shandong province, the VOM said.
Those individuals are being threatened with the “re-education” labor camps if they refuse to pay fines of about $1,500, VOM’s sources reported.
“Pray for Christians in China and ask God to encourage and give them boldness to draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Him,” VOM asked.
In China dissent is discouraged, and sometimes faces an outright ban. So Christians who do not subscribe to official Chinese government religious doctrine face harassment because their very presence is viewed by the government as objectionable.
“Because we are so free and so comfortable, a lot of us don’t ask about how it is for Christians in the rest of the world. We’ve never been reminded, don’t think about it, and sad to say in some cases, we don’t care,” Todd Nettleton, a VOM spokesman, told WND.
Unlike the popular contemporary concept that the persecution of Christians happened in biblical times and then ended, he said, such attacks now are escalating in dozens of nations around the world.
But before supporters can get involved in the battles over steadfastness in the faith, they have to understand what is developing, Nettleton said.
“One of our purposes is to be a wake-up call to the American church, and say, ‘Here’s what reality is for our spiritual brothers and sisters in restricted nations,'” he said of the newsletter.
Voice of the Martyrs
is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.
It was launched by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who began smuggling Bibles into eastern Europe and Asia in the 1940s. Shortly later Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.
He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.
The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.
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