Published September 25, 2008
The authors of your recent article, “The Church, and its freedom, varies across China,” made it clear that the freedoms and places of worship vary greatly in China. They also made the distinction between registered churches and unregistered.
They failed, however, to explain why the house churches choose to be unregistered, therefore illegal, and why the Christians are willing to risk persecution in the forms of harassment, “re-education” through labor, loss of jobs and property, imprisonment, beatings, torture, and even death.
To be a legal church in China is to be a Three Self Patriotic Movement Church sanctioned by an atheistic government. Preachers and preaching are under the control of the TSPM. Among many other things it is illegal to evangelize or baptize children under the age of 18, illegal for three or more believers to gather for religious purposes outside the TSPM church building, and the pastors are discouraged from preaching on Christ’s return and the Resurrection.
Even if we can deduce the TSPM churches are better than nothing, many times they do not exist in the countryside villages where millions of Chinese live. Their only option is to home church, albeit illegally.
These are not rebels who delight in breaking the law. They are committed Christians willing to suffer for their faith. They want the privilege to lead others to Christ, especially their own children. So they meet secretly, worship fervently, lead millions to Christ, and suffer the earthly consequences.
The Olympics were spectacular by most accounts, but all is not well in China. Let’s not forget our brothers and sisters.
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