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Persecution Watch: Praying for Believers in China

(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday July 21, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.

Population: 1.4 billion, Christians 96.7 million

Surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world. Church attendance is rigorously monitored, and many churches are being closed down – whether they’re independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (the officially state-sanctioned Protestant church in China).

It remains illegal for under-18s to attend church. All meeting venues had to close during the Covid-19 crisis, but some churches were forced to remain closed once restrictions began to lift and were quietly phased out.

Christian leaders are generally the main target of government surveillance, and a very small number have been abducted.

The following two reports show what Christian’s experience:

The Chinese government continues its efforts to transform Christianity into a tool of the state. China offers yet another instance of the persecution of Christians by governing officials that is unfortunately on the increase not only in China, but in all too many other nations around the world.

“600 Church of Almighty God Members Sentenced in 2021,” by Wang Yichi, Bitter Winter, November 3, 2021:Since the CCP started carrying out a 3-year “Final Solution” plan against The Church of Almighty God (CAG) last September, the persecution has continuously strengthened. Even common CAG members have been sentenced to penalties as severe as seven years and six months in prison.

2019. During the following two years or more, the police kept them in pre-trial detention, and deprived them of visits from their relatives. When their relatives went to the detention house and applied for visits, the police not only refused to allow the meetings, but took the opportunity to interrogate the relatives about the faith of the arrested CAG members.

Church of Almighty God member dies in prison. On September 25, 2021, the People’s Court of Zhangqiu, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Jinan city in the eastern province of Shandong, opened the trial against 48 CAG members, who had been detained for more than two years. They were sentenced to penalties of two, three, or more years in prison, including four members under the age of 20 and one 67-year-old devotee. One 80-year-old member was sentenced to two years and four months in prison, and later was allowed to serve her sentence outside the prison.

As readers of Bitter Winter know, reacting to the rapid development of the CAG, the CCP has put it on the list of xie jiao (banned religious movements) since its founding, carrying out a brutal persecution against it. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCP did not relax its efforts to crack down on the CAG.

A CAG member from Shandong Province was sentenced to four years in prison this August. Less than two months after her sentence, the local police informed her family that she had died of a heart attack, and urged them to cremate her body immediately. Before cremation, however, the police forbade her family from changing the clothes of the deceased, which would have allowed relatives to examine her body. The real cause of her death remains unknown.

Next:

The Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Christians has taken a disturbing new turn. According to a recent Radio Free Asia report, Chinese Christians are being detained at secretive “brainwashing camps.” Writing under the pseudonym of Li Yuese, a Chinese Christian detailed the conditions of his detention in a “transformation facility” where he was held for 10 months after the CCP raided his house church in Sichuan province in 2018. Most of the prisoners held in these mobile facilities, operated by the United Front Work Department in collaboration with the state security police, have been taken from house churches that operate outside of state approval.

Imprisoned in a windowless room without ventilation, Li was subjected to verbal and physical abuse. United Front officials use intimidation, threats, and beatings to force detainees to renounce their faith. The repression was so brutal that Li testified, “After you’ve been in there a week, death starts to look better than staying there.” At his release, Li was in very poor health. He remains haunted by his experience.

Imprisoning Christians in brainwashing camps is another step in the CCP’s intensifying crackdown on religion. The CCP believes independent religious practice threatens its power. Under President Xi Jinping’s policy of “Sinicization,” the party seeks to conform religion to its political goals. Religious groups deemed to “disrupt public order” face severe monitoring and persecution.

The CCP’s persecution of Christians has also involved demolishing churches and arresting leaders like Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2019. Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims are also persecuted. Meanwhile, Falun Gong members are reportedly subject to forced organ harvesting and extrajudicial imprisonment.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the Lord to touch President Chi and open his eyes to understand Christian Values.
  • Pray for the authorities in China to recognize the importance of religious freedom and allow the Church to gather and worship without restrictions.
  • Pray to the Lord that He will blind, confuse, and distract state agencies that control churches and Christian lifestyles.
  • Pray that, despite intense surveillance, faith will flourish in China and more people will discover God’s love.
  • Ask the Lord to protect and be with the believers who converted from Buddhism and Islam as they face intense persecution
  • Pray for church leaders who are monitored and harassed for their ministry. Ask the Lord to give them strength and wisdom
  • Pray for unity of all Christian churches, that their witness will continue to be powerful while being under constant pressure.
  • COVID 19 gave Chinese authorities a reason to shut down many churches – and keeping them shut. Ask the Lord to break the powers of darkness and that He will give the keys to His pastors that believers can worship again.
  • Pray that local NGO partners will be able to reach vulnerable Christians with vital Christian literature, training, and fellowship.
  • Pray that persecuted believers will not become bitter and be able to love and forgive.
  • Pray to the Lord to protect and comfort believers whose family members are serving prison terms.
  • Pray for the Lord’s hand to be on His believers and to encourage them to bring the Gospel message to the lost.
  • Pray that the Lord will continue to grow the number of believers in spite of challenges from the Chinese Communist Party and that the community of saints will greatly expand.

We are continuing to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord:

Leah Sharibu prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.

Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped in February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.

Pastor Wang Yi to be released from Chinese prison.

Anita a Christian convert, facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran for his release and his family as their persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.

The Harvest

“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18)

Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: (667) 770-1476 (Note: We have a new call-in phone number)

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

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 time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are 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 are new to the call and cannot 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!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

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.

Leading House Churches are being targeted in China

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) Our brothers and sisters in China desperately need our prayers. The basic message that CCP is sending to all house churches throughout China is your days are numbered, submit. Please join us, tonight, in a prayer conference call for the persecuted Chinese Church hosted by Persecution Watch.

(Bitter Winter) There is no pause nor mercy in the CCP campaign to crack down on independent house churches. The limited tolerance granted to some of them in the pre-Xi-Jinping era is gradually coming to an end. Either the house churches join the government-controlled Three Self Church, or their leaders go to jail. It also happens that house churches are labeled as xie jiao, “heterodox teachings,” and their elders and pastors prosecuted under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code, originally conceived to crack down on banned new religious movements.

Beijing’s Zion Church is one of the most famous house churches in China. In 2018, it was officially “dismantled” and banned by the authorities, which tried to bankrupt it by imposing extravagant fines. It was also accused of being a xie jiao. Much to the CCP’s surprise, however, Zion Church did not disappear. It lost its place of worship, as the CCP persuaded the landlord to cancel the lease, but devotees continued to meet in private homes. A believer told Bitter Winter that there are “hundreds” of Zion Church meeting places, not all of them in Beijing, and the total membership may be in excess of 25,000.

Obviously, this is not something the CCP can tolerate. Two Zion Church preachers, Qie Jiafu and Huang Chunzi, have been arrested in their homes in the last days of April. It is unclear whether they will be formally incriminated, but believers are afraid that this is just the beginning of a new crackdown on their church.

In March, Bitter Winter reported about the attack against another significant house church, Renai Reformed Church, in the prefecture-level city of Guiyang, in Guizhou province. When the church’s elder, Zhang Chunlei, went to the police station to negotiate the release of the devotees arrested during a police raid in a hotel where they had gathered for praying, he was arrested himself.

Elder Zhang should have been released after 11 days of administrative detention, but this did not happen. When his wife and the Christians of the Renai Reformed Church protested, they were told that Zhang’s case was being investigated. On May 1, he was formally indicted for “religious fraud” and placed under criminal detention at Yunyan Branch Detention Center. Houses of Renai Church members were also searched by the police, and religious items were confiscated.

On May 7 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, yet another pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church, Wu Wuqing, was arrested for “disturbing the public order” after officiating the funeral of a church member. Wu had already been arrested in April, and Early Rain’s leader, pastor Wang Yi, is currently serving a nine-year sentence in jail.

These are significant messages sent to all house churches throughout China. Unless they submit to the government, their days are numbered.

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3

Prayer Points

  • Pray for God’s will to be done in China as it is in heaven.
  • Pray that, through prayer with King Jesus, the Chinese church will be strengthened, and evil attacks will be nullified.
  • Pray for the gospel to be preached, disciples to be built, and Chinese Christians to become leaders in prayer to carry out the Great Commission.
  • Pray that, this summer, Chinese church leaders will be able to rest and refresh themselves in God’s Word and through fellowship with one another.
  • Pray for Chinese Christians currently facing state pressure, persecution, jail and death for their beliefs and actions. Pray for them to be courageous and trust in God, not man.
  • Pray for Chinese children from Christian families. Pray that they will come to love, know, and follow Jesus, and be leaders for the next generation.
  • Pray for Chinese believers to be people of prayer, who take all their anxieties to King Jesus, and joyfully rest in his protection.
  • Let this be the desire to pray for us here in America too!

We will also Pray for: 

Leah Sharibu and Alice that they will be set free from Boko Haram captivity.

  • Leah Sharibu was kidnapped along with 109 other students on February 19, 2018 when Boko Haram attacked a boarding school in the city of Dapchi, Maiduguri Diocese, in north-eastern Nigeria. A month later, some of the girls died in captivity and all the others were released, except Leah. She was the only Christian in the group.
  • Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped during the Rann attack on March 1, 2018. She was a nurse working with Unicef and is a mother of two.

Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison, for his family, the children, and the church in China. 

  • On December 28 the police raided the Early Rain Church and arrested Pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, and ten elders of the well-known 750-member church for holding “illegal” services. Some 100 believers were detained, questioned, and later released. Pastor Wang’s wife was also released. Pastor Wang remained in detention.

Anita, an Iranian Christian, persecuted by the Islamic regime seeking asylum.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, for his release and his family as their persecution continues. 

  • Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and leads a 400-member house church in Rasht, Iran. Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012. Pastor Nadarkhani was tried again in 2017 on false charges of “acting against national security” and promoting “Zionist Christianity,” for which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. By July 2018, plainclothes agents raided Pastor Nadarkhani’s home to execute the sentence, beating and apprehending him and using a taser gun on one of his sons. He is now incarcerated at the notorious Evin prison near Tehran.

The harvest 

  • “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

I am looking forward to praying with you. 

The Lord’s servant,

Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Conference Call Leader

Prayer Conference Call Details

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

From any location on your phone

USA Time Zone:

9:00 PM Eastern

8:00 PM Central

7:00 PM Mountain

6:00 PM Pacific

Call in number: 712 775-7035

Access Code: 281207#

Recommended: For those who may be subject to added charges for conference calls. Please download the app, it’s free!

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier. Google Play link or App Store – iTunes

If you are experiencing any difficulties joining the call, please let us know.

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 time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.

Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.

“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.

On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are 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 are new to the call and cannot 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!

God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.

Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team

NOTE: Please fill out the form in the sign up link below to be included in our distribution list to receive urgent prayer requests, prayer points, notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers.

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.

Special Report-Nuns arrested by Chinese Communist Party as Beijing turns up heat on Church in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Extracts from The Guardian article: Read the full report here. In May, two Chinese nuns who work at the mission were arrested by mainland authorities during a visit home to Hebei province, according to three Catholic clerics with knowledge of the matter. The nuns, in their 40s, were detained for three weeks before being released into house arrest without being charged. They are forbidden to leave the mainland, according to one of the clerics. Meanwhile, Western diplomats say, Chinese security agents have stepped up surveillance of the mission in recent months.”

Fearless, Cardinal Zen calls for courage.

“We are at the bottom of the pit – there is no freedom of expression anymore,” the former Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, told Reuters in a written reply to questions. “All these things are normal in mainland China. We are becoming like any other city in China.”

With the exception of 88-year-old Cardinal Zen, all Church leaders, local priests and parishioners interviewed for this article declined to be named. “For any word you say,” Zen told Reuters, the authorities “can say you’re offending the National Security Law.”

 

Protestant Churches Continue to Be Destroyed Across China

(Bitter Winter) by Zhou XiaoluOn October 8, over 40 officials from the Public Security Bureau and the Caotang town government in Xi’an, the capital of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, destroyed a Three-Self church after expelling congregation members attempting to stop the demolition. One believer, in his 70s, was carried away because he had fainted seeing that the venue was about to be destroyed. The church was razed to the ground within two hours, with all its effects buried in ruins. Congregation members cry as their church is being demolished.

 

“The government demanded to demolish the church supposedly because of engineering works needed to fix the erosion of a nearby river,” a congregation member said. “But the distance between the church and the river is quite long. Officials never discussed with us the plans for the demolition; they simply arranged personnel to do it. Such actions are too brutal, totally unreasonable.”

On September 16, over 100 police officers and Maanshan city government officials in the eastern province of Anhui demolished a Three-Self church without informing its over 200 congregation members. Hired workers cut off the water and electricity supply to the church and forcibly carried away an elderly couple in charge of the church’s upkeep. The two believers were taken to a local hotel, where they were guarded by seven designated personnel.

“Officials told us that the church would be relocated but never mentioned anything about demolishing it,” a congregation member said helplessly. “Church account books and electric devices were all buried in the ruins.”

A Three-Self venue in Pingyu county administered by Zhumadian city in the central province of Henan was demolished in August after staying closed for two years ago. According to a county resident, the official reason for the demolition was that the land was needed to build water conservancy facilities. But no other buildings, except for the church, were demolished.

Congregation members put up a tent near the church ruins, waiting to settle the forced demolition issue with local officials.

In July, the Yutai county government in Jining, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong, demolished a Three-Self church venue attended by believers from several villages. Officials claimed that the church was too close to the village committee building and that “believing in Jesus meant going against the Communist Party.”

In February, the Xinglou town government in Pizhou, a county-level city in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, demolished a Seventh-day Adventist house church venue after months of attacks against it. The police arrested the church director and some congregation members in October last year “for holding illegal gatherings” and seized the building and all valuables inside.

“It felt more heartbreaking than having my home destroyed,” a church member recalled, still haunted by the traumatic experience of seeing the venue demolished.

Two more house church venues in Pizhou were demolished for refusing to join the official Three-Self Church.

 

 

China: Government Orders to Destroy Swedish Missionaries’ Gravestones

Tombstones for Swedish missionaries in a Xiezhou town cemetery.

Shanxi government desecrated the resting place of 20 missionaries, who worked and died in China nearly a century ago, and destroyed a house for visiting believers.

(Bitter Winter) by Zhang Feng — Protestant missionary Verner Wester and his six family members were buried nearly a century ago in the Swedish missionary cemetery in Xiezhou town, administered by the Yanhu district of Yuncheng, a prefecture-level city in the northern province of Shanxi. He was a member of the Swedish Mission in China (Svenska Missionen i Kina (SMK)), who lived in China from 1903 to 1930.

SMK missionaries established their first mission station in Yuncheng in 1888 and later expanded to other areas in Shanxi and adjoining provinces of Henan and Shaanxi. Through their charitable work building schools and hospitals, which residents could use for free, the missionaries played an important role in the areas’ development and led numerous locals to Christianity.

“Swedish missionaries bought a plot in Yuncheng’s Xiezhou town cemetery for themselves,” an elderly Christian from Yuncheng told Bitter Winter. “This meant that they devoted their hearts, souls, and entire lives to China.”

Earlier this year, the Church of Christ’s Family (基督家園教會), a local house church established in 2008, ordered to make gravestones for the 20 Swedish missionaries in the Xiezhou cemetery. The Church also established contacts and communicated with Verner Wester’s granddaughter Mick Lidbeck, who recounted her grandfather’s story in the book  Min farfar i Kina (My Grandfather in China).

In a short time, the cemetery started attracting Christians who came to pay respects to the missionaries and pray. To accommodate them, the Church of Christ’s Family renovated an old four-room house near the cemetery and displayed a series of photographs depicting missionaries’ work in China. The move immediately drew the local government’s attention.

At six in the morning on September 12, the Yanhu district government dispatched over 100 special police and public security officers and personnel from various government institutions to block the street leading to the cemetery. Onlookers trying to take photos were threatened and told to leave immediately, as an aerial drone hovered above them, observing the scene.

About two hours later, three excavators were brought in to destroy the Swedish missionaries’ gravestones and the adjoining house as “illegal constructions.” To conceal the demolition, government-hired personnel planted vegetation atop the ruins overnight.

A government insider revealed that all villagers living near the cemetery were summoned to the local police station prior to the demolition, and their cellphones were confiscated to prevent information leaks. Heads of the Church of Christ’s Family and directors of several church venues were lured to neighborhood committees and put under control. Their cellphones were also confiscated. The Church of Christ’s Family was blacklisted and targeted for priority surveillance because of contacts with Verner Wester’s family in Sweden.

Ironically, or maybe intentionally, four months before the gravestones were destroyed, the Yanhu district government opened an exhibition of old photographs depicting Swedish missionaries’ activities in China for over ten decades. In an article dedicated to the show, Sweden is hailed as a world leader “in the fields of innovation, green development, and environmental protection.” “With the predestined relationship between Sweden and China, which was established by Yuncheng city and over 100 Swedish missionaries in China one hundred years ago,” the article states, “we will surely be able to complement each other’s strengths, integrate deeply, and promote the development of both countries.”

In reality, however, bulldozing the gravestones of those who built this “predestined relationship” speaks to the contrary. Which “strengths” is the CCP going to complement? Clearly, not democratic values, respect for human rights and religious liberties.

“The CCP portrays missionaries in a negative light, depicting them in films and novels as spies cooperating with imperialist countries to invade China,” a member of the Church of Christ’s Family commented. “Believers renovated the cemetery to show their positive influence, but the CCP can’t tolerate that the missionaries’ Christian spirit will spread across China. Missionaries’ gravestones can be demolished, but their spirit has been deeply rooted in our hearts and inspired generations of believers.”

CCP Rewriting The Gospel: Jesus Actually “Killed” The Woman Taken in Adultery

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (one of a set of 12 scenes from The Life of Christ) Metropolitan Museum of Art

More warnings coming out of China. (Bitter Winter) The story in John 8 is presented to Chinese students as one where the Savior waits for the Pharisees to leave, then stones the adulterer himself.

Every Christian knows the story. It is told in the Gospel of John, 8:3–11. “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” Jesus at first ignored them, but then told the Pharisees,  “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Since they knew they were not without sin, “they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.” Jesus said to her, “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’”

It is a powerful story about mercy and forgiveness. Jesus does not condone the sin, but forgives the sinner with his divine authority. Mercy and forgiveness, however, are unknown to the CCP. Perhaps in anticipation of the future promised “sinicization” of the sacred scriptures of all religions, a textbook published by published by the University of Electronic Science and Technology Press for teaching “professional ethics and law” in secondary vocational schools tells a different version of the story, as revealed by UCA News.

Here is how the textbook presents the story of the woman taken in adultery: “The crowd wanted to stone the woman to death as per their law. But Jesus said, ‘Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.’ Hearing this, they slipped away one by one. When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, ‘I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.’”

Christians in China are protesting against a textbook making Jesus a sinner and a killer. Actually, however, the incident is subtler than that. It is not, or not mostly, about painting a negative image of Jesus. It is about the CCP itself. Many CCP bureaucrats, judges, and police officers are notoriously corrupted. Yet, the story teaches that they should be obeyed. If “sinners” would be prevented from “executing the law,” including administering the capital punishment with or without due process, “the law would be dead.”

As told to Chinese students, the story teaches that the law and the Party are good and pure, and transcend the impure human beings who happen to represent them.

Even if the officers are corrupted, their decision should be acceptedbecause, honest or corrupted, they represent the Party, and the Party’s law should never be questioned.

This is standard CCP theory, but totally distorts the meaning of Jesus’ teaching in John 8. Mobilizing Jesus for the CCP propaganda is blasphemous and offensive to Christians. Yet, we can expect more such distortions as religious scriptures are gradually “sinicized.”

‘Red Tourism’ Sites Developed to Enforce Communist Ideology

CHINA — “According to several shop assistants, the venues’ managers were demanded to arrange spaces according to the Mao-era style. The site’s administration even provided all statues and portraits of Mao Zedong. All employees must swear allegiance to the CCP in front of the Mao Zedong statue every Monday morning.” Read more

State-Run Institutions Investigate Employees’ Religious Status

Religious persecution in China affects each aspect of believers’ life. Those unwilling to give up their faith may lose their jobs.

(Bitter Winter) by Zhang Wenshu —

Authorities in the eastern province of Shandong carry out mass investigations into the religious status of civil servants, employees of state-run institutions and enterprises, including schools and hospitals.

On July 28, thousands of workers in over 200 government-affiliated institutions in the Fushan district of Yantai city were convened for a meeting to investigate their religious status. Their spouses, children, and parents were also scrutinized.

In May, the Education Bureau of Jinan, the capital of Shandong, required some primary and secondary schools to determine if any of their teachers, students, or their family members were religious. Similar investigations have been carried out in schools of other cities as well.

A primary school teacher, a member of a Sola Fide house church, told Bitter Winter that the school principal summoned her to fill out a government-issued form about the religious status of teaching and administrative staff. “The principal told me that all religious gatherings are banned, even reading the Bible in small groups is not allowed,” the teacher said. The woman added that she was greatly upset by the government’s increasing persecution of religions. She is afraid that if her religious affiliation is revealed, she could be subjected to surveillance, or worse, be punished and even lose her job.

A hospital staff member revealed that at least two hospitals in the city investigated the religious status of employees and their family members in April. Personal information of people who attend state-run places of worship was also collected. Those who are discovered to have concealed their faith could be punished.

People of faith worry that their job security and wellbeing could be affected if their religious belief is disclosed. Many have been discriminated against because of their religion.

In June, a sanitation worker, nearly 70 years old, from the central province of Henan, was fired for reading the Bible during her break at work. She was let go the same day after the director of the Environmental Sanitation Bureau publicly criticized her. The director demanded that all potential employees present a certificate from the police in the area of their permanent residence registration, proving that they are not religious. “No religious person shall get recruited,” the director proclaimed.

The woman’s colleagues commented that she was a good worker, laboring hard without complaints. Because of her faith, she has never been named a “model worker.” “All leaders kept an eye on her and punished her just because she believes in God and often shared the gospel with us. No one dared to defend her,” one of her colleagues commented.

“I’m aging, and I don’t know how I will support myself,” the woman lamented.

A staff member at a hotel in the northwestern province of Shaanxi told Bitter Winter that he had worked in many hotels over the years. He had to provide a “no-faith certificate” issued by his permanent residence in all of them. The same happened when he applied for the position of a security guard in a kindergarten.

For members of banned religious groups, the situation is even worse. A public servant from Shandong’s Yantai city, whose belief was recently investigated, explained to Bitter Winter that if government workers or their family members are ascertained to be members of a xie jiao, they will be immediately fired.

A person working in the public security system in the province has lost his job because his father is a member of The Church of Almighty God. “I have friends working in police stations or criminal police and national security brigades, but none of them dared to help me,” the man revealed. “And no money could have helped to keep my post. My superiors said that when religious beliefs are involved, no connections will help.”

A man who moved to Xinjiang at the beginning of the year told Bitter Winter that the police questioned him about his father’s membership in the Shouters, a religious group declared a xie jiao and banned in 1983, four days after he started working in a state-run enterprise.

“My father has a police record because he has been arrested for his faith, and this information is in the system,” the man explained. “Every time they check my ID card, authorities learn about my father’s faith. The enterprise leader told me that if a person has a police record for religious beliefs, three generations of their descendants would not be able to join the army or work in a state-run entity.” The police also questioned the man to find out if he was religious as well. They ordered him to attend “study classes” for two hours every day. Because the employer has learned about his father’s faith, the man could no longer work in the state-run institution, and he left Xinjiang.

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