By Tim Gamble
On Sunday, May 19, China shut down yet another historic house church, this time in coastal city of Xiamen, according to various sources. More than 70 government officials were "dispatched to Xunsiding Church, claiming they needed to inspect it, and posted an administrative penalty notice. The notice, issued by the Siming District Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, accused Pastor Yang Xibo of running the church without approval and therefore violating China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs. As punishment, the bureau is fining the church 25,000 yuan ($3,622.00 USD)" (details reported by China Aid).
"Beginning on May 19, local authorities have stationed themselves at the entrance of the church, turning away church members who wish to enter the church, while recording their personal information. On May 21, choir members were again blocked by a police-formed human chain when they attempted to enter the church for practice" (details reported by International Christian Concern).
This is the latest incident in an ongoing crackdown on Christianity by the Chinese government. Starting in 2017, this crackdown has included churches being fined and shut down, church schools being shut down, pastors and other church leaders being arrested (some of which are still "missing"), crosses being removed from public display, and other forms of harassment.
China, which remains under strict communist control despite opening up to capitalism in recent decades, has a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. The Communist Party in China, which is officially atheist, has approximately 70 million members. However, the strong growth of evangelical Christianity in China has resulted in slightly over 100 million Chinese Christians - approximately 75 million Evangelicals and 27 million Catholics. Also, the Chinese Orthodox Church, an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church, has about 15,000 members.
This situation of Christians outnumbering official Communist Party members is at least partially behind government crackdowns on Christianity over the last few years, as they seek to exercise control over Christianity in China. Communist governments, and all other collectivist regimes, demand that the citizen's top loyalty be to the State, not to God, the Church, or even the family. The State essentially sets itself up as God, and hates competition for that slot.
Pastor Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid, states “China’s oppression against house churches will not be loosened. A systematic, in-the-name-of-law crackdown will continue to take place.”
Christians are encouraged to pray for the persecuted Church in China.
Sources: 1) Press release by International Christian Concern dated 5-24-2019; 2) Additional information from International Christian Concern; 3) Information from China Aid, via their website; 4) Statistics from the China entry of Pray for the World, a resource from Operation World, 5) Previously published original analysis by Tim Gamble.
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