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Protestant Church Updates

April 2021 UPDATE

PROTESTANT CHURCH UPDATE

April 2021

 

 

2 Updates

 

 

1. The Joy of the Resurrection

2. Chinese Christians Held in Secretive Brainwashing Camps: Sources

 

 

 

1. 

The Joy of the Resurrection

2nd April 2021

 

China Source Blog

Why Not Shout Together?

The Joy of the Resurrection

By: Barbara Kindschi 

 

In Chinese, Easter is “come back to life” day. This often brings a gasp to North American listeners—as if the name itself is a witness to the truth of Easter Sunday. But I found few in my circle of Chinese friends, colleagues, and students who made any connection. If the textbook holiday chapter had a decorated egg in it, I would elaborate a bit on other symbols of the holiday. Eggs as the start of life, new clothes, seeds bringing new plants, and a cross. I might draw a cross on the board and ask if anyone knew why this was on top of many church buildings worldwide. Some associated it with the Red Cross while there was always one who knew of “the god’s terrible death.” Further questions and discussions always took place later.

 

But come back to life he did! Our faith is futile if he didn’t. But his death came first. The joy of “coming back to life” day comes from the fact that it followed a death that appeared so final.

 

Spring illustrates death to life right before our eyes. Living with four seasons was a new experience for me when I came to Asia. My southern California childhood did not have distinct changes in weather through the year. But as I taught from Xinjiang to Heilongjiang spring appeared through my window each year. I saw the transformation of sticks and twigs into lush green bushes and trees. Flowers seemed to pop out of the ground and dusty brown paths on our campus were again covered with grass. My students, coming from farming communities, were often more familiar with the labor of sowing seeds than the joy of budding trees. But stories of a seed dying and creating something new didn’t need explaining. Some were intrigued with an account of a God who did the same and others came to personally know the one who came back to life.

 

This year I attended the funeral of a believing brother who had passed away with a shocking suddenness. At the service celebrating his life listeners were reminded that his soul was now home. It did not need to search for an allotted number of days for a place to settle, as locals would tell you. His God had long ago prepared a place for him and was welcoming him. His God had conquered death and come back to life.

 

New believers are the ultimate earthly illustration of life coming from death—in any country. We can all remember our own journeys to faith and those moments when the truth of what we had come to believe suddenly hit home. The pieces started to fit together. All was not clear and understood or even fathomable, even if our parents or a trusted friend had said so. It was simply eye opening and awesome. Hopefully these moments continue until heaven when we see face to face the one who came back to life.

 

One Sunday my closest Chinese friend and I were enjoying lunch and talking over that day’s lesson. It had centered on the celebration taking place during the Easter account. She was remembering what she knew of the first Passover and suddenly burst out—“He’s the Lamb! They always killed a lamb at that time! He died at that time. He’s the Lamb that died—but he came back to life!” Writing this does not do the moment justice. Perhaps you could try and envision a crowded restaurant and a young Chinese woman practically shouting—in English—to a gray-haired foreigner. Or you could shout with her, “He came back to life!”

___________________________________________________________________

 

2.

Chinese Christians Held in Secretive Brainwashing Camps: Sources

 

1st April 2021

Radio Free Asia

 

Authorities in China are detaining Christians in secretive, mobile "transformation" facilities to make them renounce their faith, RFA has
learned.

A member of a Christian "house church" in the southwestern province of Sichuan who asked to be identified by a pseudonym Li Yuese said he was held in a facility run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s United Front Work Department, working in tandem with the state security police, for 10 months after a raid on his church in 2018.

"It was a mobile facility, that could just set up in some basement somewhere," Li said. "It was staffed by people from several different government departments."

"It had its own (CCP) political and legal affairs committee working group, and they mainly target Christians who are members of house churches," he said.

The Chinese Communist Party, which embraces atheism, exercises tight controls over any form of religious practice among its citizens.

State security police and religious affairs bureau officials frequently raid unofficial "house churches" that aren't members of the CCP-backed Three-Self Patriotic Association, although member churches have also been targeted at times.

The CCP under Xi Jinping regards Christianity as a dangerous foreign import, with party documents warning against the "infiltration of Western hostile forces" in the form of religion.

Li said he was held in a windowless room for nearly 10 months, during which time he was beaten, verbally abused and "mentally tortured" by staff, eventually resorting to self-harm by throwing himself against a wall.

His account is chillingly similar to those of former inmates of "transformation" camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

"They use really underhand methods," Li said.

"They threaten, insult and intimidate you. These were United Front officials, men, women, sometimes unidentified, usually in plain clothes. The police turn a blind eye to this," he said.

"You have to accept the statement they prepare for you," he said. "If you refuse, you will be seen as having a bad attitude and they will keep you in detention and keep on beating you."

Basement brainwashing sessions

Li said most of his fellow inmates were also people who had been released on bail during criminal detention for taking part in church-related activities.

Most hadn't done anything that could trigger any criminal prosecution, so police sent them to the "transformation" facilities instead, Li said.

"They were using brainwashing methods on those of us who were on bail from the detention center," he said. "It was in a secret location, in a basement."

"There were two plainclothes officers in my room, and a uniformed officer was in another room," Li said.

"There were no windows, no ventilation and no time allowed outside," he said. "I was given just two meals a day, which were brought to the room by a designated person."

Inmates who refused to "admit their mistakes" were held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

"There is no time limit for the brainwashing process," he said. "I don’t know the longest time anyone has been held there, but I was detained for eight or nine months."

"You can't see the sun, so you lose all no concept of time."

He said suicidal ideation and self-harm was commonplace.

"I couldn't sleep; after you've been in there a week, death starts to look better than staying there," Li said. "I bashed myself against the wall to self-harm."

"One time in there, I was groggy and was trying to open my eyes but I couldn't," he said. "Four or five of them grabbed me by the arms and legs and pinned me to the ground."

"They they injected me with some drug, and brought me back to consciousness."

Haunted by experience

Li said he was in very poor health on his release, with edema all over his body and a weight gain of 10 kilograms.

He remains haunted by the experience to this day, he told RFA.

Another Christian who asked to remain anonymous told RFA that similar facilities are being used across China, not just for Protestants, but also for members of the underground Catholic church, and of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, a target of authorities since 1999.

A lawyer surnamed Zhang from the northern province of Hebei said he had represented a number of former detainees, who are Catholics.

"I was asked to go to Baoding by underground Catholics in 2013," Zhang said. "These brainwashing places were similar to the ones used on the Falun Gong."

"I saw several of their priests at that time, and they told me what was happening there in Baoding."

"After the religious affairs officials had arrested the bishops and priests, they didn't pursue criminal charges -- they just disappeared them, sometimes for five, six or even 10 years at a stretch."

"Some were sent back home after five or six years, and that was how people learned about the brainwashing centers -- from their accounts," Zhang said.

Zhang said he suspects the "transformation" facilities have been running for a long time around China, and that the operations in Baoding were likely just the tip of the iceberg.

According to a report in the overseas magazine Bitter Winter in November 2020, which interviewed a former brainwashing victim, methods used in the centers vary from beatings to torture, including cold showers in sub-zero temperatures, and forcing inmates to carry large buckets of water around their necks.

China is home to an estimated 68 million Protestants, of whom 23 million worship in state-affiliated churches under the aegis of the Three-Self Patriotic Association, and some nine million Catholics, the majority of whom are in state-sponsored organizations.

* Reported by Li Nuo for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

 

End

 

 

 

March 2021 UPDATE

PROTESTANT CHURCH UPDATE

March 2021

 

 

1 Update

 

“Confucian Shame in Christian Thinking” by Jackson Wu Confirmation

 

24th March 2021

 

LECTURE - For Confucian thinkers, shame is an essential element required for moral development. This understanding is foreign to most Westerners. Yet, does shame have a place in Christian theology? Is it something to get rid of or might it have role in shaping our character? This webinar explores the diverse ways that honor and shame affect our moral decision making as well as Paul’s use of these ideas within his letters.

Q&A - Explore ideas with Jackson after the lecture wraps.

SPEAKER BIO - Jackson Wu (pseudonym) is theologian-in-residence for Mission One, having previously served in East Asia first as a church planter and then as a professor for Chinese pastors. He is the author of Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and Shame in Paul’s Message and Mission. Jackson received his PhD in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

 

Webinar Speakers

Jackson Wu
Theologian in Residence @Mission One
Jackson Wu (pseudonym) is Theologian in Residence for Mission One, having previously served in East Asia first as a church planter and then as a professor for Chinese pastors. He is the author of Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and Shame in Paul’s Message and Mission. Jackson received his PhD in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. 
Please click below link for more details:-
You can cancel your registration at any time.

 

 

End

 

 

 

February 2021 UPDATES

PROTESTANT CHURCH UPDATE

February 2021

 

 

3 Updates

 

           1. A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

           2. Time to pray for Protestants in China

           3. China’s Churches Celebrate Christmas 

 

 

 

1. 

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

26th January 2021

 

China Source - China Church Voices

 

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

By: ChinaSource Team

 

The following is a letter from the pastor of a church in Wuhan written to brothers and sisters in Christ. We originally published this letter almost one year ago today. And, yet around the world, we all continue to experience the severity of COVID-19. As we enter another year, this pastor’s call for all of us to be united in prayers, seems as pertinent today as it was then.

 

 

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

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

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. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

2.

Time to pray for Protestants in China

13th January 2021

UCA News - www.ucanews.com

Time to pray for Protestants in China

Chinese Protestantism is facing a serious risk of a generational crisis

By: Michel Chambon

Once again, the week of prayer for Christian unity is back. Once again, I would like to turn the spotlight on Chinese Christians. It is true that many of them do not know much about this joint initiative of the World Council of Churches and of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Yet, with divisions among them being multiple and deep, prayers are much needed.

Catholics around the world are aware of how political tensions have deeply divided Chinese Catholicism. Yet the week of prayer for Christian unity invites us to turn our attention toward non-Catholic Christians.

This year the theme of the week is “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit.” It was selected by the monastic and ecumenical Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland in relation to John 15:1-17. In this section of the Gospel, Jesus invites us to contemplate how God the gardener trims his vine to make it bear even more fruit.

Guided by this theme, we need to look at the young branches growing out of Chinese Protestant communities. To identify some of the difficulties they are facing and inform our prayers for unity, I would like to shed light on what I call a generational crisis.

Over the past decades, Chinese Protestantism has evolved quickly. On one hand, it went through steady growth. Millions of new believers have joined Protestant churches. But this rapid development is now gone, and Chinese Protestantism is transitioning to a new stage of its history.

On the other hand, the state administration is increasing its anti-religious policies and new restrictions are forcing churches to adjust their functioning. Furthermore, internal migration has deeply reshaped the sociocultural landscape of the country. These various aspects have multiple consequences for Chinese Protestantism.

First, Protestant communities that have decided to collaborate with the state tend to evolve under the leadership of senior pastors who are in their 50s and 60s today. Many of these pastors came to faith during the 1980s, got training in theology and led their communities for years. This generation of senior leaders have the considerable experience that allows them to navigate the internal tensions of their congregation as well as the pressure of state officials.

However, many have been unable or unwilling to prepare a new generation of leaders who could effectively take over. In the coming years, Chinese Protestantism is facing a serious risk of a generational crisis.

How is that possible? Indeed, registered churches are mostly made of and overseen by local Christians. Their senior pastors are from the local community. Yet, in a country where younger people have moved out of their hometowns to find jobs in big cities, younger Protestants are mostly within unregistered churches.

In many ways, the division between official and unregistered Chinese Protestantism is generational, and it is fueled by migration. This is especially true within large cities. There, the average age of churchgoers joining official churches is much higher than that of those joining unregistered churches. And this is also true among pastors. Unregistered networks operate under the leadership of younger leaders.

Similar contrasts can be found about geographical origins. Official churches tend to attract Christians from the surrounding region. Unregistered networks attract “outsiders” — younger students and professionals who come from far away.

Furthermore, the rapid growth of Chinese Protestantism has brought many senior pastors overseeing official churches to establish rather strict authority. This leadership model bears its advantages and disadvantages. As we say in Chinese, a mountain cannot host two tigers. At official churches, younger and promising ministers often face pressure from senior pastors to leave. They are implicitly pushed out to protect the cohesion of the congregation. Thus, in many well-established Protestant churches, leadership is carefully monopolized by senior pastors.

Official schools of theology

Another factor causing tensions comes from official schools of theology. The state requires that Protestant leaders go through theological training at state-sanctioned schools of theology. Although those institutions have gained in strength and academic quality, state control and administrative requirements are making the functioning of those schools increasingly complicated. Recruitment of students and professors is heavily bureaucratic.

In some parts of the country, the state requires that all forms of Christian traditions study at the same school. With this imposed coexistence, theological differences are difficult to address and professors tend to avoid sensitive subjects. Teaching about the trinity, the sacraments and the Bible becomes complicated. And this is a slippery slope.

Not surprisingly, young ministers from official churches are becoming increasingly skeptical toward state-sanctioned training. They feel like they waste their time at school. At church, they feel the generational gap with average churchgoers and the conditional support of their senior pastors. Submission and obedience are the key.

In this context, many promising candidates elope. Some go abroad to access better schools of theology. Yet they know that without state-approved training they will never be allowed to take the leadership of their home congregations. Others simply join unregistered communities. Without any supervising regulations, these underground networks of smaller and warmer communities offer more room for pastoral initiative and leadership.

The conjunction of all these difficulties creates what I call a generational crisis. Younger Protestant leaders may find themselves unable to prepare for the tasks needed of them. In the coming years, without a younger generation of ministers able to assert real leadership, Chinese official Protestantism may find itself in crisis.

Some may consider this as good news. Certain observers with deep anti-Chinese state feelings believe that the collapse of established churches would free Chinese Protestantism from communism and favor its spiritual and numeral growth.

I think this assumption is shortsighted. First, it is unfair to pretend that official churches have corrupted and unworthy faith. Their commitment to the Lord is often remarkable. Second, nothing indicates that Chinese religious movements that are entirely underground are doing well today. While it was the case in the 1980s and 1990s, the state has since found very harsh tools to suppress them efficiently. In the current situation of the People’s Republic of China, no one should wish Chinese Christians to fully go underground.

Following the view of many scholars, I believe that the dynamic relationships between official and unregistered Protestant communities benefit the Protestant Church in China. First, structural separations among Protestants do not bear the same religious meaning as they do among Catholics. Second, those differentiations allow a high level of theological and spiritual diversity. They also weaken state control and makes church structures more flexible. In other words, a collapse of official churches due to a generation crisis cannot benefit Chinese Protestantism.

In conclusion, no matter how things will unfold, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit will find a way to support Chinese Protestants. But history has shown that things can always get worse. Therefore, in this week of prayer for Christian unity, Catholics around the world should pray for the physical security and spiritual growth of Chinese Protestant communities. These brothers and sisters need to find a way to nurture young branches growing out of official churches. Their well-being will benefit the whole body of Christ.

* Michel Chambon is a French Catholic theologian and anthropologist. Twitter: @MichelChambon. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

3.

China’s Churches Celebrate Christmas 

5th January, 2021

China Source - China Church Voices

 

China’s Churches Celebrate Christmas

By ChinaSource Team

Christmas was muted in parts of China this year. In this article, China Christian Daily shares an in-depth look into what Christmas celebrations looked like in Beijing this year. Although most churches canceled services, this reporter was able to attend one abbreviated service, albeit under heavy precautionary measures.

 

Christmas Under Pandemic:

Churches in Beijing Cancel Carol Services or Restrict the Number of Participants

December 24 and 25 are the days when the universal church celebrates Christmas and commemorates the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. However, many Christian churches in Beijing have stopped worshipping on site due to the pandemic, and some churches have conducted online carol services instead. I had the honor to participate in a Christmas Eve worship service at one of the churches.

Around two o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday, I inquired about the services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of Beijing Christian Gangwashi Church, Chongwenmen Church and Fengtai Church through a platform called “Beijing Religious Places Reservation.” I wanted to make a reservation for one of them.

To my surprise, I found that one of the churches had no reservation information. After checking, I learnt that they had started to issue admission tickets in front of the church gate as early as half a month ago and there had been no online reservations. However, that church had canceled its activities altogether for December 24 due to the new pandemic outbreak. The other church was fully booked and the third one had tickets available for the last evening service from 11 pm to midnight. There were only four tickets remaining so my friends and I made a reservation quickly. On Christmas Eve, there were four worship sessions at the church, each of which was strictly limited in number with about 280 people in the main sanctuary.

After dinner, my friends and I went to the church by subway and walked in the cold wind for nearly 20 minutes after getting off the subway. Although it was cold, our hearts were happy and we looked forward to the service arranged by the church. As we arrived at the church gate we found the main entrance closed. The security guard instructed us to take a detour. We had to complete a number of steps before entering the church building: checking the Beijing Health Code, registering personal information and allowing personal tracking, taking our temperature, showing our reservation number, storing our bags (both large and small bags), facial recognition for checking temperature again, going through a security check, and applying hand sanitizer for disinfection. After completing all of the steps, we were welcomed by the church attendants, who handed each of us a package “Peace Fruit.”

During the security check process, we heard an old man yelling, “From where do I enter? I’m totally confused.” In a word, none of the steps to enter the site could be omitted.

After entering the church, we were instructed to sit down one meter away from each other. We were required to wear masks throughout the one-hour worship. I have a hobby of taking photos, but when I picked up my phone and was about to take a photo, I was immediately reminded that I was not allowed to take pictures and post them on WeChat Moments. We were also surprised to find that even the cell phone signal was blocked.

As the service started, the pastor gave a sermon about “peace,” which lasted only five minutes, but there was still a brief call for those who might seek Jesus. They prayed for the visitors who came to the church for the first time. The main feature of the worship service was the performance by a choir. Choir members stood on stage wearing masks to sing and their voices were sometimes low and sometimes high with duets. The accompanying instruments were the piano and violin. The service was also broadcast live for those participating online.

After the service was over, we needed to leave by a special passage and then we took our backpacks after going out of the gate. After nearly an hour of worship, believers were still chatting with each other, but they were unable to see each other’s faces completely because of their masks. However, I found the service touching. When I sang about the Savior’s incarnation and when I prayed for a place to greet the Lord along with my singing, when the holy music of universal joy and hallelujah sounded, although they could not be together, I could feel the joy and touch of the believers of the universal church celebrating the Savior’s birth together.

I have participated in Christmas activities many times in churches in Beijing. Recalling the past, Christmas was particularly lively every year. One year, I took my friend to Chongwenmen Church. Because we were late, we could only sit in the side chapel; it wasn’t so wonderful to watch the service projected on a screen.

In another year, I went to Gangwashi Church, but there were too many participants for the event and some of them had started queuing outside the church three or four hours in advance to get into the main chapel to have a view of the main stage. I didn’t even go in the side chapel, so I had to watch the big screen in the churchyard, shivering from the cold while singing Christmas hymns. Luckily someone left early so I could enter the side chapel to enjoy the heating.

The church I went to last night was the same. In previous years, not only were the main and side chapels full but also many people stood in the aisles on both sides of the main building. The service was wonderful including Christmas dramas, recitations, singing and dancing, music, and even Sunday school children’s performances. Christmas dramas are often a reconstruction of the scene of Jesus born in Bethlehem. There was no place in the inn, so Mary had to give birth in the stable, and the baby was put in the manger after being born. Shepherds in the wild rushed to the scene, and the three wise men also worshipped the infant.

After arriving home and ready to rest, I saw a message from the Fengtai Church WeChat official account. It said that because of the pandemic, the Fengtai Church was not able to hold the Christmas celebration on the evening of December 25. The message asked for understanding and support from brothers and sisters.

On December 24, Haidian Church issued a notice on its official website saying that due to the recent new cases of infection in Beijing, beginning on December 24, Haidian Church would suspend public gatherings and small group activities, and the resumption time would be announced separately. “Please understand and actively cooperate with your brothers and sisters, and continue to do a good job in pandemic prevention and control. Let us continue to pray for the early end of the pandemic.”

On the same day, the official website of Gangwashi Church also sent a similar message.

Due to the pandemic and redecoration work, Yanjing Theological Seminary has been closed to the public. Brothers and sisters are invited to attend Christmas and Sunday services online.

On the afternoon of December 24, Beijing held its 190th regular press conference on pandemic prevention and control, giving information about the latest situation of pandemic prevention and control. Beginning at midnight on December 23 to 4:00pm on December 24, there were two new asymptomatic cases in Beijing, and there were no new confirmed cases or suspected cases in China.

After the on-site gathering was canceled, Haidian Church, Chongwenmen Church and Yanjing Theological Seminary all provided live online worship during Christmas.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, churches in Beijing stopped public gatherings since the end of January 2020. Despite a notice that gatherings could resume on June 14th, they were temporarily cancelled again due to a new outbreak, and public gatherings did not resume until early August. At that time, I went to Chongwenmen Church and used its reservation system. When I entered the Church, I went through health code and the appointment number, temperature measurement, disinfection, and security check. When I attended the church, I was seated at a strict distance of one meter. When the service was over I left immediately and did not stay. Churches in Beijing generally have thousands of people. After strictly limiting the number of people, each church has increased the number of worship sessions and provided online live broadcast or playback to meet the worship needs of believers.

2020 is about to pass. In this year, COVID-19 suddenly spread all over the world. According to the World Health Organization, as of 18:09 on the 24th Central European Time (1: 09 on the 25th Beijing time), the number of confirmed cases worldwide increased by 662,825 from the previous day reaching 77,530,799 cases. The number of deaths increased by 13,061 reaching 1,724,904.

The pandemic situation has also changed the way of worship in Chinese churches. All churches have actively explored how to provide online worship, and we watch and help each other together without losing confidence and hope during these difficult times.

Original Article: Christmas Under Pandemic: Churches in Beijing Cancel Carol Services or Restrict the Number of Participants by China Christian Daily
Edited and reposted with permission.

 

END

 

January 2021 UPDATES

PROTESTANT CHURCH UPDATE

January 2021

 

 

2 Updates

 

1.Chinese Christmas and its Swaddling Clothes

2. China shuts down some 100 Protestant churches

 

 

1.

Chinese Christmas and its Swaddling Clothes

 

14th December 2020

Once again, Chinese Christians and non-Christians are decorating their streets, shops and churches with Christmas decorations. The typical red hats, Santa faces and glittering trees are multiplying over the public sphere. Despite efforts by some Chinese authorities to limit the popularity of this supposedly Western festival, Christmas continues to overflow religious circles and to entertain a wide range of Chinese citizens.

 

 

UCA News - www.ucanews.com

 

Chinese Christmas and its swaddling clothes

 

Christmas decorations unveil the incarnation of Christ in contemporary China

 

By: Michel Chambon

 

Once again, Chinese Christians and non-Christians are decorating their streets, shops and churches with Christmas decorations. The typical red hats, Santa faces and glittering trees are multiplying over the public sphere. Despite efforts by some Chinese authorities to limit the popularity of this supposedly Western festival, Christmas continues to overflow religious circles and to entertain a wide range of Chinese citizens.

 

In China, Christmas encapsulates many things. It is as much about peace, joy and romance as it is about consumerism, modernity and the West. Wild and polymorphous, its popularized forms escape from any state or clerical controls. Christmas has fallen into the public domain. Thus, year after year, a Chinese Christmas war continues to occur over its significance and meaning.

 

Yet, for Christian observers, one paradox must be highlighted. While many Chinese Catholics and Protestants claim that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, the materiality of their churches gives a more complex account. Although Catholic churches always set up a nativity scene in their sanctuary, all Chinese churches host numerous Santas, blinking trees and jumping deer as well. In China, these not-so-Christian decorations are everywhere in Catholic and Protestant places of worship.

 

As I theorize in my new book,  Making Christ Present in China , Christians cannot be reduced to their ephemeral words and ideas. Christians are also sensible bodies relying on material objects. They exist and act through a whole set of objects that allow and challenge them to do so. Their life and their statements of faith emerge from concrete bodies fed by distinct cuisines and wrapped into real clothes.

 

In the case of Christmas ornaments, Christians and their objects say more than a mere statement of faith about Jesus. If the not-so-Christian decorations quietly irrigate the discourses of devoted Christians, they also reveal three important things.

 

First, their very presence reminds us that Christmas is a thick and rich material phenomenon that roots our senses into culturally informed practices. In 21st century China, Christmas is part of the Chinese culture. Through a set of specific colors, smells and sounds, Jesus cohabits with smiling Santa, white sleds and red balls. Thus, Chinese Christmas is not first encountered as an idea or a creed. It is a material experience and bodily initiation introducing everyone to something rather undetermined and mix in nature.

 

Second, Chinese Christians — Catholics and Protestants — are not so distant from their fellow citizens. The secular decorations of their churches speak of the contemporary culture that Chinese Christians share with non-Christians. Throughout this material continuum, Chinese churches and capitalist malls speak to each other. The apparent messiness of Chinese Christian decorations might not be what religious and political leaders would like. They may transgress top-down categorizations and modern oppositions between religious and secular spaces. Chinese Christians do not stand in a pure and pious bubble apart from their sociocultural environment. Polysemic Santa is welcomed at their churches just like Merry Christmas is shared by hundreds of millions of Chinese.

 

Third, these eclectic decorations continue to rejoice, stimulate and question those who contemplate them. With them and because of them, Christian sanctuaries remain polymorphic and open to a variety of sensibilities. Their Chinese Christmas cannot be reduced to a monolithic message. It exceeds any reassuring discourses, knowledge and unidimensional truth. In other words, those objects enlarge the scope of the sanctuary. With Santa and his deer, Christian places of worship are not an exclusivist cult with narrow teachings owned by a pastor; they remain a space of questioning hospitality. “Who do you say I am?”

 

Therefore, before these long chains of objects that allow us to physically access a taste of Christmas without reducing it to a single and abstract message, one may question discourses against materialism. In many circles, either Catholic or Protestant, rather undefined materialism is easily presented as evil. It is as if caring for the materiality of our existences would deny our filial relation to the Heavenly Father. Discourses against materialism, however, take the risk to look down upon the real world that God has not only created but also assumed in his intimate nature. The flesh of Christ is not a mere decoration or a medium: it is Him, the true image of God.

 

In my book, I show that the revelation of Christ becomes tangible through the continuous dialogue that people manage with material objects. Their relation to the Christian God is not an abstract knowledge transmitted from brain to brain, nor a set of values defined by their religious communities and discussed by scholars. It is a collective discernment and embodiment in which the whole creation participates. In the dialectic occurring between humans and the material world, the Triune God emerges as a possible other who reconcile everything. Thus, Christianity is as much a materiality as a spirituality.

 

Chinese Christmas decorations work as a window of this Christianity as materiality. Like the senisus fidei fidelium tells the true faith with more accuracy than what magisterial teaching may state, ornaments give flesh and spirit to a festive event, the coming of Christ. With vividness and multiplicity, Christmas decorations unveil the incarnation of Christ in contemporary China. Unafraid of ambiguities and diversity, they manifest the ongoing creation that God and His son are performing in the People’s Republic of China.

 

* Michel Chambon is a French Catholic theologian and anthropologist. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

____________________________________________________________________________

2. 

China shuts down some 100 Protestant churches

 

11th December 2020

UCA News - www.ucanews.com

 

China shuts down some 100 Protestant churches

 

Officials rejected the registration certificates saying the government can revoke them anytime

 

UCA News reporter, China

 

Government officials in eastern China have raided and shut down close to 100 protestant churches as part of the escalating crackdown on Christians in the communist nation.

 

Officials in four cities of Anhui province have closed down 99 churches and prayer venues this year, exploiting a range of pretexts including poverty eradication and prevention of Covid-19 epidemic, reported Bitter Winter, a magazine that covers human rights and liberty in China.

 

At least 43 churches were closed in Suzhou, while 24 in Huaibei, 20 in Fuyang, and 16 in Xuancheng, the magazine said.

 

The officials cited a host of violations to close down the churches, such as "disobeying the government" and "being too close to a school." Not having a license or the building being dilapidated were among violations, the quoted.

 

Some were also accused of organizing illegal gatherings" posing the risk of spreading infectious diseases like Covid-19.

 

Local Christians said most closed down churches were registered with the local authority. They also had the certificate of registration.

 

Officials dismissed the certificate shown by protesting Christians, saying the documents were not valid anymore.

 

"The state can annul the certificate because it had issued it," one official declared.

 

Last year, officials shut down some 70 Protestant Churches and prayer venues in Lianyungang and Suqian cities in Jiangsu province.

 

Officials have also decided to demolish or repurpose the venues to prevent congregations from resuming gatherings in those two cities.

 

Crackdown on Christians in Communist and officially atheist China is widespread. It has intensified under the rule of President Xi Jinping since 2013.

 

President Xi is believed to be the first supreme Chinese leader to target religions for a well-devised political policy of "Sinicization of religions."

 

According to Thomas Harvey, the author of the book, The Sinicization of Religion in China, the policy wants indigenization of religious faiths, practices, and rituals in Chinese culture and society.

 

The policy has ideological, legal, and bureaucratic implications, and it requires religious institutions and leaders to embrace state-mandated socialism and leadership of the Chinese Community Party.

 

END

 

 

PROTESTANT CHURCH UPDATE

January 2021

 

 

3 Updates

 

           1. A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

           2. Time to pray for Protestants in China

           3. China’s Churches Celebrate Christmas

 

 

 

1. 

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

26th January 2021

 

 

 

 

 

By ChinaSource Team on Jan 26, 2021 12:10 am

The following is a letter from the pastor of a church in Wuhan written to brothers and sisters in Christ. We originally published this letter almost one year ago today. And, yet around the world, we all continue to experience the severity of COVID-19. As we enter another year, this pastor’s call for all of us to be united in prayers, seems as pertinent today as it was then.

A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

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.

 

November 2020 UPDATES

 

PROTESTANT CHURCH UPDATE

November 2020

 

 

2 Updates

 

        1.What the Christian evangelical grip on America means for China and the world

       2. Churches shut, demolished and ordered to be             sold in China

    

 

 

1.

       What the Christian evangelical grip on America means for China and the world

                                    

14th November 2020

 

South China Morning Post

 

What the Christian evangelical grip on America means for China and the world

 

Nurtured by Donald Trump, the Christian radical right – with its doomsday prophecies – threatens to bring civil war, deepen US rivalry with China and upend international relations and governance

 

By: Peter T. C. Chang

 

For US President Donald Trump’s conservative Christian ?supporters, Justice Amy Barrett’s swift ascension to the Supreme Court marked a momentous victory?. In August, the president had told his supporters at a rally that “we move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem”, and “That’s for the evangelicals.”

 

The alliance between Trump and the pietistic evangelicals is as odd as it is alarming, with far-reaching consequences for America and the world, including US-China rivalry.

 

The risk lies within the Christian apocalyptic world view. Some evangelicals believe they can and should expedite events to bring about the end of the world, culminating in an epic Armageddon battle of good vs evil that will usher in the kingdom of God. The Jerusalem move was important because it was one step towards heralding the second coming of Christ.

 

Many, including America’s founding fathers, were averse to Christianity’s supernatural revelations. Thomas Jefferson’s Bible is famously rid of references to miracles. But to protect religious freedom, Jefferson instituted a wall of separation between church and state, securing a private sphere for divergent beliefs.

 

This allows the governance of a public space free from theological interference. Over time, Americans began to rally around a new creed centred on civic virtues such as liberty and dignity, in what sociologist Robert Bellah calls American “civil religion”.

 

But this ethos began to unravel in the second half of the 20th century as the United States entered a protracted culture war. Among the contested issues, abortion is the most polarising?.

 

Since the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Christians have waged a long and bitter battle to overturn Roe vs Wade. They felt besieged by a liberal establishment that seemed intent on subverting their Christian way of life.

 

The religious right’s embrace of Trump underscores the depth of their despair. The milieu has become so secularised that the sacred must be salvaged at all cost, even if it takes a flawed – and possibly – non-believer. For embattled evangelicals, to save Christian America, the end justifies the means.

 

Trump did not disappoint. Aside from the Supreme Court, he has packed the federal benches with Christian conservatives. But these conservative wins are unlikely to end the culture war. The US is deeply polarised and its unique experimentation with civil religion could lead to civil war.

 

This is not just an American saga – the impact of the conservative Christian resurgence extends into the international arena. The evangelical imprint on US foreign policy began in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan startlingly called out the Soviet Union as the “evil empire”.

 

In response to the September 11 attack, George W. Bush launched a “war on terror” against the “axis of evil”. More recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others have cast China as an “atheist” empire eroding the core values of the US-led free world.

 

To be sure, America’s presumption to global leadership and sense of exceptionalism were sowed at its birth. Despite a disdain for supernaturalism, the founding fathers retained their conviction in Christian divine providence.

 

America’s manifest destiny, they extolled, is to be a city upon the hill, a beacon of democracy. When the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse, political scientist Francis Fukuyama triumphantly declared liberal democracy the apex of political progress and the “end of history”.

 

Herein lies the crux of the US-China stand-off. In rebuffing liberal democracy, China is seen as subverting a divinely ordained world order and affronting a divinely anointed US global leadership. But the evangelicals set this superpower tussle within a wider theological narrative.

 

As the “chosen nation”, America is commissioned to evangelise the world in preparation for a new heaven and Earth. Thus any challenge to US supremacy, to wit China, is deemed as thwarting the advent of the kingdom of God.

 

In contrast, America’s founding fathers, despite their conviction in divine providence, had the sensibility to limit US exceptionalism to the earthly domain.

 

Herein lies the danger of the evangelicals’ sway on the Trump administration. Christian eschatology (concerning the ultimate destiny of humanity) is as bewildering as it is unnerving. The pandora’s box of theological dogmas and religious impulses could defy and upend the norms of international relations and global governance.

 

Some Christian fundamentalists, for instance, are certain the world has entered a period of great tribulation. Amid a raging pandemic, crippled economy, and worsening social upheaval, beleaguered evangelicals see signs of the “last days”.

 

The end is nigh and the faithful must gird for the final cosmic battle of Armageddon when God will obliterate his enemies. In the QAnon universe, apocalyptic nihilists are using “scorched-earth” violence to hasten the Messiah’s return.

 

These doomsday prophecies and their effect on Americans’ views and politics can only aggravate already tense US-China rivalries and volatile global geopolitics.

 

America’s founding fathers envisioned a liberal, democratised world, a utopia on Earth, marking the buoyant “end of history”. For Christian fundamentalists, the ultimate lies in the heavenly, and to cross over to the other side, history must first meet a fiery end.

 

Compounding the peril of Christian apocalypses is Trump’s narcissism. The self-proclaimed “chosen one” has shown little moral inhibition in his insatiable quest for self-grandeur and raw power. The alliance between Trump and his God-fearing supporters is disruptive for America and disquieting for the world.

 

This alliance will end when Trump exits the White House. But the Christian right’s web of influence has infiltrated the American body polity and is likely to remain a potent force. The unsettling impact of Christian evangelicals on America and US-China rivalry will outlive Trump’s presidency.

 

Religion can be a spring of inspiration but it has also proven in much of history to be a source of tragedy. This is especially so when we surrender our rational faculties on the altar of unbridled faith. When this happens to the upper echelons of a nuclear-armed superpower, the consequences could prove dreadful.

 

* Peter T. C. Chang is based at the Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya. He is trained in the field of comparative philosophy and religion. His current research project looks at China's soft power and its impact on the Sino-Malaysia relationship specifically and the wider world generally.

___________________________________________________________

 

2.

    Churches shut, demolished and ordered to be sold in China

 

                                13th November 2020

UCA News - www.ucanews.com

 

Churches shut, demolished and ordered to be sold in China

 

Churches are eradicated to ensure there are more Chinese Communist Party members than believers

 

UCA News reporter, Hong Kong

 

More than 70 Protestant churches and venues were shut and ordered to be rented out or sold in the cities of Lianyungang and Suqian in Jiangsu province of east-central China last year.

 

Officials have also decided to demolish or repurpose the venues with an aim to prevent congregations from resuming gatherings, according to Bitter Winter, an online magazine focusing on religious liberty and human rights in China.

 

Officials in Bailu town in Lianyungang’s Guannan county told directors of the local Three-Self Church during a meeting in August that the empty churches must be rented out or sold. In August, one of the churches, which was closed in June last year, was rented out and another one was sold.

 

“The government is eradicating churches,” a church director lamented.

 

Even before the August meeting, some church venues had been sold, including the July 26 sale of Chenzhuang Church for about US$3,000.

 

“We didn’t have a chance to save our church,” said a congregation member.

 

After the shutdown, authorities converted Three-Self Church in Suqian city’s Shuyang county into a memorial hall for China’s revolutionary heroes.

 

As part of the conversion, workers hired by the government removed its cross and a pillar with a signboard “God loves the world” on June 5. It was replaced by another signboard reading “Huaihai District’s Military and Political Auditorium,” a resident told Bitter Winter.

 

“The church will now be used to teach the young generation about China’s revolutionary spirit,” announced a village official.

 

The official explained why three branches of the Three-Self Church have been demolished.

 

“People of faith outnumber Chinese Communist Party members, and the party is not winning people’s hearts,” the official explained. “The government fears that this will bring instability. Churches are eradicated to ensure that there are more CCP members than believers.”

 

Officials in Xiayi county in Henan province ordered demolition of a former Three-Self Church venue on Oct. 21 and decided to replace it with a clinic. The church was shut down last year and used as a clothing factory.

 

The government crackdown has also targeted house churches. In April, authorities in Guangxin district in Shangrao city of Jiangxi province closed down a church venue for “organizing illegal gatherings.” The venue was converted into state-sponsored Civilization Practice Station for New Era the next month.

 

Since then, the faithful have been holding gatherings in their homes.

 

Another local church was forced to be used for a processing factory and officials continued to check to prevent the return of members.

 

End

October 2020 UPDATES

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