Lessons From Chinese Christians

Mr. Jin, the pastor of the Lighthouse church in Beijing, stood in the doorway of his apartment which was being blocked by armed policemen and told the reporter from the New York Times, “I am fully prepared to go to jail for my church. I belong to the Lord, and if this is what God intended, so be it.”

Pastor Jin and the thousand people who worship with him have become the focus of the Chinese authorities. Technically illegal, house churches have been given a degree of freedom on recent years. But last year when Lighthouse’s 1000 members raised $4 million to purchase their own building, problems began.

Instead of retreating back underground, the church began to meet outside in public places for Sunday services and their numbers grew as people joined them. According to the Times, the authorities have started arresting people who show up for the outdoor services and most of the church’s leadership is either in jail or under house arrest.

Lighthouse isn’t the only large house church to endure new scrutiny and persecution. Other pastors are reporting similar harassment. The government instituted churches that operate under its authority. About a third of China’s 60 million protestants worship in the government sponsored churches. Zhang Mixuan, pastor and president of the Council for House Churches, spoke for the vast majority of China’s Christians saying, “The bottom line is that house church members believe in Jesus, not the [Communist] party’s version of Jesus.”

Consider what these Chinese Christians face…

Officers from the Beijing Public Security Bureau burst into Sunday services, pronounced the gathering illegal and wrote down the personal details of everyone in the room, one by one. In the days that followed, calls were made to congregants’ employers or college administrators. Many congregants say they were threatened with dismissal from jobs or school if they did not switch to an official church. Some left, but Shouwang’s [Lighthouse’s] ranks continued to grow.

What do you think would happen at The Crossing or any other American church if something similar happened here?

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