More than 100 foreign Christians in China have been accused of being involved in illegal activities and have been expelled in just a 90-day period, the biggest assault on the presence of Christianity in China since 1954, according to a new report from the Voice of the Martyrs.
Most of those who have been expelled are from the United States, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Australia or Israel, and had been working in or visiting Zinjiang, Beijing, Tibet and Shandong, according to the VOM report.
A Christian who had worked in Xinjiang for 10 years told a VOM source that more than 60 foreign religious workers, many who had served people in the area for more than 15 years, were expelled from Zinjiang alone.
As WND reported a week earlier, officials also are reporting an increase in arrests of Chinese house-church pastors and leaders, who have been accused of being “suspects using evil cults to obstruct the enforcement of the law.”
VOM reported that the campaign against Christians is called Typhoon No. 5, and “is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to prevent foreign Christians from engaging in mission activities before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.”
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 events.
“This is the largest expulsion of foreign missionaries since 1954 when the Chinese Communist government expelled all foreign religious workers after taking power in 1949,” reported a VOM source. “At least five different mission agencies and sources within the Chinese government report that in February, the government launched a massive expulsion campaign against foreign Christians.”
“In spite of the public face of religious freedom the Chinese government tries to convey through its state run system, the arrests of Chinese Christians, and now the expulsion of active Christian visitors is a demonstration of their true nature,” said Tom White, executive director for Voice of the Martyrs.
The government’s effort, however, is facing an uphill battle, because of estimates, as WND has reported, that 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.”
Last week’s reports raised concern over the house-church pastors who had been arrested, and now are facing possible sentences to China’s famous “re-education” camps, and about the half dozen house-church leaders who were arrested in one city. They are facing fines of about $1,500.
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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