China’s War On Christians Intensifies
A proverb from the Song Dynasty of a millennium ago states, “Thick mountains could not stop the river from flowing into the sea.” Thirty years after the slaughter of pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square, China’s persecuted Christians certainly hope the saying proves true in their case.
Turning its back on a reform policy that by and large recognized Christians as good citizens, the bellicose Communist government, led by President Xi Jinping, lately has been doing everything it can to block the mighty river of Chinese Christianity.
According to China-watchers Nina Shea and Bob Fu, the country’s Christian presence has grown to possibly more than 100 million people (36 million in official, state-recognized churches), compared with a Communist Party membership of just 90 million. The church growth among China’s 1.4 billion people has come on the heels of disillusionment both with the Party and the spiritual vacuum created by the country’s economic and social disruptions.
Fenggang Yang of Purdue says that China might be home to as many as 247 million Christians by 2030. These kinds of numbers have shocked Communist Party officials. Fu’s organization, ChinaAid, recently downloaded some accidentally posted internal Chinese documents that revealed the government’s desire to “contain the overheated growth of Christianity.”
Old regulations concerning churches are now being enforced, including those that ban minors from going to church and Sunday schools and Bible camps from operating. In some churches, Christian symbols are being replaced with pictures of Xi. Hundreds of churches have had their crosses removed and been forced to fly the Chinese flag and sing patriotic songs. Online Bible purchases are now illegal. The Communist Party, which is officially atheistic, has assumed direct control of all churches.
“Some urban underground megachurches were shut down,” Shea and Fu report. “Thousands of congregants were arrested and several prominent Protestant pastors received lengthy prison sentences. Earlier [in May], the regime launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate unregistered churches.”
As is always the case in China, some areas are more problematic than others. “Last year in Henan province,” Shea and Fu say, “10,000 Protestant churches were ordered shut, even though most were registered with the state. During 2018, more than one million Christians were threatened or persecuted and 5,000 arrested.”
Last December, police rounded up Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong, along with 100 members of his Early Rain congregation in Chengdu. Wang and his wife are charged with “inciting subversion,” which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. The church is gone from the three floors it rented, replaced by a business association and a construction company. The Guardian reports that the 1,500-member Zion church in Beijing was shut down after its pastor refused to install closed-circuit television to monitor members.
Although the Vatican and Chinese officials reached an agreement allowing Xi to appoint some Catholic bishops, two Marian pilgrimage shrines were destroyed, several underground Catholic priests and a bishop were forced into Communist “re-education” sessions, and two dozen Catholic churches in Hebei are being torn down.
These measures and more prompted Open Doors to move China up from No. 43 to No. 27 on its annual World Watch List of countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian. It’s a massive jump. “The Chinese government,” notes Christopher Summers, “… works hard to make sure nothing in the country is a threat to the absolute authority of the Party—and its chairman, Xi Jinping.”
“The Chinese Communist Party wants to be the God of China and the Chinese people,” says Huang Xiaoning, pastor of the Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church, which has been closed twice in the past year. “But according to the Bible only God is God. The government is scared of the churches.”
According to reporter Lily Kuo in Chengdu, authorities are concerned not only by the growth of Christianity, but by the boldness of some of its leaders to speak out on social issues and civil rights. Every year Early Rain’s Wang, a noted public intellectual, commemorates the Tiananmen Square massacre and serves as an advocate for parents and families harmed by everything from faulty vaccines to substandard construction.
“Early Rain church is one of the few who dare to face what is wrong in society,” one member told Kuo. “Most churches don’t dare talk about this, but we obey strictly obey [sic] the Bible, and we don’t avoid anything.”
Observers say that authorities don’t want to wipe out Christianity, as their predecessors attempted to do during the Cultural Revolution. According to Ying Fuk Tsang, director of the Christian Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “President Xi Jinping is trying to establish a new order on religion, suppressing its blistering development. [The government] aims to regulate the ‘religious market’ as a whole.”
Indeed. More than a million Uighur Muslims have been forced into concentration camps, along with some Christian converts as well. The New York Times reports that the Chinese government is employing artificial intelligence facial recognition technology to monitor and target the Uighurs. Tibetan Buddhists, meanwhile, are prohibited from displaying photos of the Dalai Lama. Falun Gong adherents by the hundreds have been arrested.
If misery truly loves company, then Christians ought to be thrilled, because they have plenty. Yet while there are many mountains of opposition blocking their way, Chinese believers in Jesus have good reason to believe that God will continue to allow the gospel to flow.
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Jason Wright and The Master's Touch Announces the Release of New Single "Show Yourself Again" feat. Crystal Aikin
You can now purchase the new single on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon!
Jason coins the release of “Show Yourself Again” by saying:
“Show Yourself Again” is a powerful song that is sure to change the lives of each listener. It was produced by the musically talented and long-time friend of mine Rufus McGee, Jr. A special aspect of this single is that it was written by Coye Duncan, a member of The Master’s Touch that I have watched grow musically and spiritually in the great anointing that I always knew that God had on his life. My spirit was compelled to birth this song because of my strong desire to see miracles back in the church like we used to see in the days of old. We serve a never-changing God, so if He did it before, surely He is able to do it again! I am excited for the new single and looking forward to the worldwide impact it is sure to make on each person that hears it.
ABOUT JASON WRIGHT AND THE MASTER’S TOUCH:
Jason Wright is no stranger to Gospel Music and the Gospel Music Industry, as he was a long time member of Stellar Award Winning choir Ricky Dillard & New G. Jason is the co-leader of the hit song “Take Me Back” in which he recorded with Dillard & New G on their 6th album. Jason has also recorded with Dorothy Norwood on her “Shake The Devil Off” album as well as several others. Currently Jason serves as the President/Minister of Music for the Church of God in Christ of Western New York overseeing music for over 90 churches across upstate New York. Jason has traveled the world including Germany, Italy, and England spreading the Gospel through music.
The thing that Jason considers to be one of his greatest accomplishments is being the founder and director of The Master’s Touch in the summer of 2005. The ”Touch” has since shared the stage with several major artists including tours with Pop Star Josh Groban and Country Star Trace Adkins. In 2007 Jason & M.T. were named “Best Choir” by Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole’s Singer’s & Musician’s Conference, and has since traveled across the country with their message of hope. Jason & M.T. released their Debut project entitled Victorious Believer in May 2011 on the Canadian based Redeeming Music label, which earned them a Rhythm of Gospel Award for their song “Sinner Man” featuring Lillian Lloyd. With the success of the debut album Jason and the choir have been invited to be a part of several major events including Hezekiah Walker’s Choir Fest during Stellar Award Weekend, and made an appearance on BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel Show with Jason’s mentor the legendary RICKY DILLARD. Songs of Declaration, the sophomore album of Jason Wright and the Master’s Touch, was released in July 2014 on Dream Capitol Christian Records and hit top 40 on the Billboard chart. The full third album of Jason Wright and The Master’s Touch will be released in late spring/early summer 2018.
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