What does persecution look like in China?
Tightening restrictions and increasing surveillance are putting Christians in China under intensifying pressure, as the Communist Party seeks to limits all threats to its power. Surveillance in China is among the most oppressive and sophisticated in the world, and Christian leaders are particularly vulnerable to persecution, including imprisonment or, in a small number of cases, abduction.
New restrictions on internet and social media – together with the 2018 regulations on religion, which continue to be revised – are putting severe limitations on Christian freedom. Many churches are being monitored and closed, no matter whether they are independent or belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. It remains illegal for under-18s to attend church. The old idea that churches will only be perceived as being a threat if they become too large, too political or invite foreign guests is now an unreliable guideline.
If a convert from Islam or Tibetan Buddhism is discovered by their family or community, they are usually threatened and physically harmed – all in an effort to win them back to their original faith. Neighbors may report any Christian activities to the authorities or the village head, who would take action to stop believers.
Converts from a Muslim or Buddhist background face the most severe persecution in China, with opposition coming from families and communities as well as the authorities. However, all Christians and churches face surveillance.
Meet "Xiao Ai"
"To a certain extent, persecution points us to Christ and His love."Xiao Ai was detained for two weeks after the authorities raided a house church meeting
What has changed this year?
Due to increasing surveillance and restrictions, many house churches ceased meeting in larger groups and have split up to meet in smaller groups. Others used to meet online, but this has become more difficult as Chinese authorities pay closer attention to online activities. A number of Christians have been arrested and sentenced, often charged with illegal business operations, fraud, acting against the state's security, or the vaguely worded 'stirring up trouble'.
Open Doors supports believers in China with discipleship and persecution survival training, and by providing contextualized Christian literature to believers who have converted from Islam or Buddhism.
- Please pray that Christians facing the burden of surveillance and tight regulation will be given strength, wisdom and boldness as they navigate challenges
- Pray that young people who've not previously experienced persecution will be equipped to stand strong in their faith.
- Pray the church in China will continue to see remarkable growth, despite intensifying persecution.
Dear Heavenly Father, we are amazed at how the church in China has continued to see incredible growth, despite decades of opposition. As this new wave of persecution brings fresh challenges, strengthen Your people and continue to do amazing things in and through them. Give Your children strength, wisdom and encouragement as they navigate different challenges, and provide for every physical, emotional and spiritual need. We pray that You will anoint the conversations that Christians have with the local authorities, and that these will involve moments of divine encounter for those who seek to oppose Your work. Amen.