China: Confrontation, Arrests, Demolition - But Hope
PrayerAugust 10, 2006
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - No. 390 - Wed 09 Aug 2006
The Dangshan church in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, with a history back to 1921 has survived dispossession and persecution. Recently members agreed private homes were no longer adequate to accommodate the large numbers of people coming to hear the gospel. A local Christian couple offered their land for the construction of a sanctuary. Local authorities have however persistently refused permission for a sanctuary even though the church has met everything the new registration rules require.
Driven by their desperate need for a sanctuary, the Dangshan church started building on 17 July and made quick progress. But on Saturday 29 July government workers, anti-riot police and military police with military vehicles surrounded the almost completed building while Christians were praying inside. (Figures vary enormously: from 500 to several thousand police; and believers numbering 3,000 [BBC] to 10,000 [China Aid Association]. What is clear this was a large-scale public event.) Reports say the police used electric shock batons and anti-riot shields to disperse the believers. Numerous believers were injured - some severely - and several were arrested. The church building was totally demolished. (China Aid Association has reports and a brief video of the demolition at <http://www.chinaaid.org/>.)
This demolition is but one example of the constant repression experienced by the Chinese Church which is crying out for freedom. On 19 July police detained, interrogated and later released more than 60 house-church members in Henan Province. On 21 July police detained and interrogated 20 believers in Hubei Province, eight of whom received administrative (no charge required) 10 day to 15 day jail terms. Gross human rights abuses including torture, murder and large-scale slave labour persist in Chinese prisons and labour camps. It has long been rumoured that prisoners are being used for organ harvesting.
Meanwhile, China may not be as stable as it appears. As analyst George Friedman notes, today the appeal of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rests not in ideology but purely in its ability to generate prosperity. If prosperity fades then the CCP is finished. Friedman claims that around half of China's enterprises are not economically viable and only keep operating because the government feeds them cash to stave off unemployment and unrest. The CCP can only survive into the future by violently repressing all threat and dissent or by re-inventing itself and introducing social and political reforms.
Presently the CCP appears to be juggling these options like hot potatoes. Nationally the Maoists are in decline and top Chinese scholars, including former senior Communists, are calling for social and political reform with openness and liberty. Disturbed Chinese authorities are trying to bring values back into corrupt, atheistic, spiritually hungry China by reviving Confucianism. They are also hoping to appease the poor, disaffected masses and diffuse or redirect frustration, anger and fear by introducing democracy at the margins of society. So while the CCP is escalating its repression of dissent and persecution of the Church, economic and social trends and political realities are pulling the CCP in the direction of reform.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO -
* sustain and bless the Chinese Church: may the Holy Spirit bless every word and act of courageous witness, and may Christ bless the Church's faithful perseverance with growth in numbers, spiritual fruit and wisdom.
* continue, even hasten, his wonderful work of opening Chinese eyes, enlightening Chinese minds, touching Chinese hearts and raising up Chinese voices of reform, for the sake of the gospel and Kingdom and glory of God in China.
* direct China's leaders towards peaceful social and political reform with openness and religious liberty that would bring great blessing to the whole nation and the world.
'The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.' Proverbs 21:1
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE: ------------------------------------------------------------
CHINA: CONFRONTATION, ARRESTS, DEMOLITION - BUT HOPE
On 29 July Chinese government workers, anti-riot police wielding electric shock batons and military police in military vehicles surrounded an unregistered church building in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. Some hundreds of police then forced the several thousand Christians praying in the building to leave. Numerous believers were injured - some severely - and several were arrested. Then the bulldozers moved in and totally demolished the building. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is escalating its persecution of the Church as well as its repression of information and dissent. Meanwhile economic and social trends are pulling the CCP in the direction of political and social reform. There is much to pray about: for the Church to endure and grow and for God to direct China's leaders towards openness and religious liberty. (Proverbs 21:1)
Please send this RLP to others, with attribution to World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Prayer List <[email protected]> ----------------------------------------------------
The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC. Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.
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