Stephen Tong, a reformed Chinese pastor based out of Indonesia, has influenced the Chinese house church perhaps more than any other pastor in this generation. In the video below, he shares at the KL2020 conference in Kuala Lumpur some of his thoughts about Pastor Wang Yi. To prevent him from boldly sharing the Gospel, Yi was given a 9 year prison sentence by the government. Please continue to pray for this pastor and our Chinese brothers and sisters being persecuted for their faith in Christ.
Holding religious meetings at home is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs.
(Bitterwinter) Throughout 2019, authorities in the southeastern province of Jiangxi forcibly demolished numerous house churches, looted their property, and arrested clergy members under the pretext of the nationwide campaign to “clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.” Bitter Winter continues to receive more reports about such CCP-organized suppression attacks to force house churches into joining the Three-Self Church.
Ever since the central government’s religious work inspection team arrived in Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city in November 2019, clampdowns on house churches noticeably increased.
On January 5, local government officials came to a house church venue in Fuzhou’s Nancheng county to close it down. They took photos of the believers who were present at the time and registered their personal information. The church’s preacher was accused of holding religious meetings at home, which is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, the officials said. Afterward, police officers escorted the preacher to the county’s Public Security Bureau for questioning; he was detained for five days for refusing to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.
A source who talked to the preacher after he was released told Bitter Winter that during detention, officers were saying that the state is cracking down on Christianity because it worries about the rapid increase in the number of believers who might unite with foreigners against the CCP.
On December 28, a Sola Fide venue in Fuzhou’s Lean county was celebrating Christmas when several police officers stormed in and drove away all congregation members, threatening to arrest and imprison them if they gathered again. Police officers confiscated Bibles, hymnbooks, audio equipment, and other valuables, and also removed Christmas decorations. Two church directors were escorted to the local police station for questioning, where they were forced to write statements promising not to hold private meetings anymore.
A month before that, another Sola Fide venue in the county had its religious symbols destroyed, and the gate sealed off, preventing anyone from getting inside.
Between December and January, at least three house church venues in Fuzhou’s Lichuan county were closed down.
In mid-December, the Shangrao city’s government ordered to close a house church venue, which had 20 congregation members. Officials threatened the believers that their children’s future would be affected if they didn’t stop assembling. The church director was detained for 15 days for “holding illegal meetings.”
On January 10, the local government cleared out and shut down a house church venue in Dexing city. Officials threatened to demolish the venue if its director held meetings there again.
On December 11, local government officials broke into a house church venue in Jiujiang city’s Xiushui county and took down and burned the cross and other religious symbols. The same day, four other venues in the county were subjected to similar crackdowns. The host of one of them was taken to the police station for questioning and was later forced to sign a statement pledging never to host religious gatherings at home.
In December, over ten government officials raided a house church venue in the Nankang district of Ganzhou city after a community committee official reported it. The police arrested and questioned the preacher for “holding illegal meetings” and summoned the venue’s landlord, ordered him to clear out the church.
Dear Prayer Warriors, 800,00 Syrians have fled in three months. Christians have been abducted and attacked in the largest Bangladesh refugee camp. Gunmen killed a pastor and 23 others in an attack near a church in Burkina Faso. We will continue to lift up our dear precious Leah Sharibu and Alice, who are continuing to suffer as captives of the Islamic Boko Haram group in Nigeria. Also for Pastor Wang Yi from China, who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for boldly sharing the love of God.
In the midst of it all, where there seems to be no way, we know our hope is in the Lord. We do not despair for we do not worship the creation but the Creator, the Lord of all, the King of all kings.
* Jesus prayer for God to be glorified (John 17:1-5)
* Jesus prays for His disciples (John 17:6-19)
* Jesus prays for all believers (John 17:20-26)
* “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
* “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34)
* “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26 ESV)
“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:41-42
Jesus’ prayer after entering Jerusalem
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)
Tonight on Persecution Watch, we will pray in the Spirit to our Abba Father! Lord willing, we are look forward to praying with you on the prayer conference call.
In Christ love,
Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today and join the team!
Rules and regulations prohibiting religious funerary rituals are being adopted across China, as the government promotes “civilized secular” traditions.
by Li Guang
(Bitter Winter) Expanding the measures to suppress people of faith, authorities throughout China are enforcing policies that prohibit religious customs and rituals to be used during funerals. Xinjiang Muslims have been banned from commemorating the dead according to their faith, and Christians ordered to stay away from religion during burials. More reports from across China on the implementation of these oppressive rules.
Only “civilized” funerals allowed
The Regulations on Centralized Funeral Arrangement, adopted by the government of Wenzhou city’s Pingyang county in the eastern province of Zhejiang, came into effect on December 1, 2019. The new rules aim to “get rid of bad funeral customs and establish a scientific, civilized, and economical way of funerals.” One of the regulations states that “clerical personnel are not allowed to participate in funerals,” and only “no more than ten family members of the deceased are allowed to read scriptures or sing hymns in a low voice.”
Similar policies are being adopted elsewhere in the country. A village official from the central province of Henan who requested anonymity told Bitter Winter that the local government convened a meeting for religious work assistants in April, informing them that all religious funerals are restricted. Soon after, the Management Measures for Village (or Community) and Township (or Town) Religious Work Assistants were issued. The document stipulates that clerical personnel should be “timely stopped from using religion to intervene in citizens’ weddings and funerals or other activities in their lives.”
Christians denied dying wishes
When a member of the state-run Three-Self Church from Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei, died in October, her family arranged a Christian funeral. While the family and friends were saying goodbye to the deceased, the police stormed in and arrested her daughter, who was praying for her mother at the time. As it turned out, somebody has reported the family to the authorities. The daughter was only released after the deceased was buried without Christian rituals two days later.
“When my father died, village officials threatened to arrest us if we didn’t conduct a secular funeral. We did not dare to go against them,” a villager from Gucheng town in Henan’s county-level city of Yuzhou said with anger. “My father had been a believer for several decades. He is persecuted even after death.”
The funeral of a well-known preacher from Wen county in Henan’s Jiaozuo city, who passed away on June 27, was stopped after government officials and six policemen came to the venue and accused the gathered people of spreading “religious propaganda.”
In November 2018, in Suiping county under the jurisdiction of Henan’s Zhumadian city, a Christian in his nineties passed away. A believer for more than 40 years, the man’s dying wish was to have a Christian funeral. Only ten minutes into the proceedings, a few government officials stormed in and harshly rebuked the family for having “a religious gathering disguised as a funeral.” No religious activities outside the church were allowed, the officials claimed. If the family wanted to sing spiritual songs, “they should go to the church and sing the national anthem instead.”
No to church choirs, and no religious symbols
In 2018, the government of a locality in Henan issued the Negative List of Persons in Charge and Clerical Personnel of Religious Activity Venue Management Committees, which stipulates that visiting groups, choirs, orchestras, and other groups are prohibited from privately holding religious activities outside places of worship. The government often uses such requirements as an excuse to intrude or disperse Christian weddings and funerals.
“The government prohibits religious funerals, and doesn’t allow church choirs or orchestras to perform during them,” said an elder of a Three-self church in Henan’s Shangqiu city. “Pastors can only sneak into believers’ homes for a hurried prayer. The situation is quite adverse, and some believers don’t even dare to accompany the deceased to the graveyard.”
In April last year, government officials commanded to stop a Christian funeral procession in Fangcheng county in Henan’s Nanyang city. They ordered the church choir and believers to leave immediately and hide the cross and other religious symbols, or else, they would be arrested. All except for the family of the deceased left, and all symbols of crosses were removed from wreaths.
In June, at a funeral in Song county under the jurisdiction of Henan’s Luoyang city, a village official demanded to remove the cross symbol from the cloth covering the coffin.
“Officials said that state laws prohibit religious funerals. We even didn’t set up a cross on the tomb,” said a Three-self church believer who arranged a funeral for her husband in Henan’s Luohe city.
(China Source) The following is a letter from the pastor of a church in Wuhan written to brothers and sisters in Christ. It was specially written for distribution.
Brothers and sisters, peace be upon you:
During these past days the Wuhan pneumonia [virus] has been at the center of my thoughts and life. [I am] always watching the latest news, and always thinking about how our family and the church should face this.
As for family, I have gathered masks and foodstuffs and have ventured out of doors as little as possible. When venturing out in public I have worn a mask, but as for the rest, I have placed it in the Lord’s hands.
As for the church, the safety of the congregation, a faithful witness, the possibility that members could contract the illness, have all become a great area of struggle. It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith.
The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ.
First, we are to seek the peace of Christ to reign in their hearts (Hebrews 3:15). Christ has already given us his peace, but his peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things (John 14:27, 16:33). Otherwise we have not believed in the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), and, with the world, would be terrified of pestilence, and lose hope in the face of death.
Why do only Christians have this peace? Because of sin, humans deserve the trials and tribulations that come upon them, Jehovah says: the wicked have no peace (Isaiah 48:22). We were all sinners, but Christ, because of faith, took our penalty and gave us his peace. Therefore Paul says, who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33). Christians may with the world face the same tribulations, but such tribulations are no longer punishment, but a new opportunity to grow nearer to the Almighty, to purify our souls, and an opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
In other words, when disaster strikes us, it is but a form of God’s love. And, as Paul firmly believed, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? . . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Roman. 8:35-39).
Spoken for today, Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ. These words are so comforting for us, we have already become one body with Christ. We have a part in his sufferings, and we have a part in his glory, all of Christ’s is ours, and our all is Christ’s. Therefore, Christ is with us as we face the pestilence in this city; the pestilence cannot harm us. If we die in the pestilence, it is an opportunity to witness to Christ, and even more to enter into his glory.
Thus, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be strong in Christ’s love. If we more deeply experience death in this pestilence, understanding the gospel, we may more deeply experience Christ’s love, and grow ever nearer to God. Our Lord Jesus through faith experienced an incomparable suffering of death, yet God raised him from the dead, and sat him at his right hand. (Acts 2:32-36)
If in reading these truths you still have no peace, I encourage you to diligently read the above cited scripture and call on the Lord to give you insight until the peace of Christ reigns in your heart. You must know, that this is not just an observable disaster, but even more it is a spiritual struggle. You should first wage a battle for your heart, and secondarily battle for the soul of this city.
We earnestly hope that you would know that not a sparrow falls without the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29). With so many souls facing pestilence, can it be outside God’s will? All that we are experiencing, is it not like Abraham facing Sodom, and Jonah facing Nineveh?
If God, because of a righteous man withheld judgment on Sodom, or because of 120,000 who didn’t know their left hand from their right, withheld destruction, what of the city of Wuhan in which we live? We are clearly the righteous in this city, far more than a single righteous person there are thousands and thousands of us. Yet, may we like Lot be grieved over all those in this city (1 Peter 2:7), and like Abraham who earnestly prayed for Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). You see, Jonah with difficulty proclaimed the gospel to Nineveh, and Nineveh repented and was saved. We are this city’s Abraham and Jonah. We must pray for God’s mercy upon this city, and bring peace upon this city through our prayers and testimony.
I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan! And we can through online networks guide and comfort our friends and loved ones with the gospel, reminding them that our lives are not in our own hands, and to entrust their lives to God who is faithful and true.
The past few days I have received many inquiries from foreign pastors. They and the whole church are concerned for this city, even more for us; and confronting this epidemic, seek to serve the city with us.
Thus, I especially ask them to turn their eyes upon Jesus. And do not be concerned with my welfare, nor be agitated or fearful, but pray in the name of Jesus. Good hearted people are through their actions serving this city, especially the medical personnel who are risking their own lives. If they can take on such worldly responsibilities, how can we not more readily take on spiritual responsibilities!
If you do not feel a responsibility to pray, ask the Lord for a loving soul, an earnestly prayerful heart; if you are not crying, ask the Lord for tears. Because we surely know that only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city be saved.
A Wuhan Pastor
January 23, 2020
“This letter was passed on to us for distribution by a friend of ChinaSource. Join us in praying for all those affected by this crisis, especially for our brothers and sisters in and around Wuhan.”
Keep updated by visiting ChinaSource, a window into Christianity in China and the key issues that impact the church.
Population: 1.4 billion Christians 97million.
The management of religious affairs is with the Communist Party, which is also the Government. You can’t distinguish one from the other.
When president Xi Jingpin came to power he started crackdowns and persecution against Christians, in both registered and unregistered chutches. Forbid Landlords to rent to Christians for meetings. It started with CCTV monitoring, finger printing and spies. Both medical workers and teachers are not allowed to have religious affiliation. No one under 18 is allowed to attend church.
Now the Party/Government moves to total control.
A new mandate entitled “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups” has been approved by the CPC and is comprised of six chapters and 41 articles dealing with the organization, functions, offices, supervision, projects and economic administration of religious communities. The new rules also seek to ensure that religious leaders support, promote and implement total submission to the Chinese Communist Party at all times.
In addition, Article 17 specifies that all religious organizations “must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party” in everything they do. Religious groups must also engage in “supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics …,” according to the restrictions. In essence, the Chinese government is insisting the church conform to it and where Christianity and the government contradict, they require Christians to forsake their beliefs in favor of the government. The government knows this is a trap as Christians place more value on the word of God than the worldly government they are under.
Pastor Wang Yi has spoken boldly against the Chinese government and for the sake of Jesus Christ. Faithwire reports that last September “shortly before he was detained, Pastor Yi personally called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to repent of his sins and come to Jesus.” This inevitably put a giant target on Yi’s back and possibly disturbed President Jinping and his government to the point of establishing new rules against Christians.
Andy, Prayer Moderator, Persecution Watch
The South China Morning Post reported that the U.S. State department was alarmed at the pastor’s secret trial which ended with a 9-year sentence for inciting subversion.
‘Another example of Beijing’s intensification of repression of Chinese Christians and members of other religious groups.’
The United States called for the immediate release of Pastor Wang Yi, whom the article describes as from one of China’s best-known unregistered churches.
Yi is the lead pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church with 500 members. However, the report claims the church attracts more than 800 people each week at more than a dozen meeting points around Chengdu. Read full report