In America, I get sick of the way Christians are treated. I hate that we are always given the short end of the stick, that we are expected to tolerate other religions and worldviews and never bad mouth them, while all others can bad mouth Christianity as much as they want. Sure, that makes me mad.
But compared to what Christians face in communist China, this is nothing.
America has a lot of Christians in the land of the free, almost capping out at 240,000,000 (around 75%), but China, a communist (and forcefully atheist) country has 100,000,000, a number that has almost doubled the amount of Christians there in 1995.
Reports ring out from all over China that Christians are arrested, nuns are beaten to death, pastors are killed or imprisoned, and so on and so forth all because some people want to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ. These Christians aren’t protesting the government or trying to cause a fuss, they are trying to hide and worship silently, slowly trying to get the message out, with the help of American evangelists.
Some question whether or not God would want American missionaries to break the law in China by passing out illegal literature. After all, doesn’t Romans 13:1 say “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities”? Well, when those authorities blatantly oppress and reject God’s Word, God set aside a special rule, in Matthew 28:18-19, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”(NIV84)
And China desperately needs the help. Only one company in the nation is allowed to produce Bibles, and these Bibles are severely limited, cutting out everything important and leaving only a message of brotherly love behind. There is no inkling of faith, no word of salvation.
Little educational pamphlets are handed out at elementary schools subtitled: “When evil cults cheat people, pretend to care about you, and make you feel very close to them, you are trapped without being aware.” These pamphlets have cartoon depictions of a man handing out Bibles in one panel, with the caption, “Mr. Wei actively participates in evil cult activities, cheats others, and runs to outside townships to distribute evil cult pamphlets,” and the next is that same man in handcuffs, in a court room, with the subtitle, “After the evil cult was eradicated, Wei was put on trial. He was very remorseful. He explained in the court, ‘I am guilty and should be punished because of my crime.’” Those who are arrested and charged may be guilty of this “crime,” but none are remorseful. Sure, they may be deserving of punishment under Chinese law, but they are always proud to be sentenced or even executed for the name of Christ.
Some say, “Well, China has an official church, why don’t they just join that and be happy?” Here is what it means to be a part of the official church in China:
- One has no ability to have faith.
- There is no promise of the resurrection.
- There is no hope of salvation.
- A theology of love replaces justification by faith.
- Atheists are in heaven.
- Socialism, China, the Communist Party and the government must be loved/supported above all else.
- Economic goals take priority over religious activities.
- Evangelism outside the official church is prohibited and those under 18 cannot partake in or be “brainwashed” by religious activities/beliefs.
- Preaching outside church and receiving self-proclaimed evangelists into one’s home, church or meeting is strictly forbidden.
And still, with all this persecution and the government’s promise to throw you in jail or even kill you, if necessary, for practicing true Christianity, China’s unregistered churches report to America between four and eight million new believers each year.
China has the highest salvation rate in the world.
Its church growth since 1977 is unparalleled in history.
China’s house-church movement has nearly twice as many members as the Communist Party’s 60 million members and is nearly 7 times the size of the “official church” in China.
From 1990 to 2005, the church in China expanded nearly 100 times its original size.
Even the largest military in the world cannot keep the Word of God in chains.
Sometimes we feel like we have it rough as Christians in America. But, the reality is, we have it easy. Very few of us are persecuted for our beliefs. We don’t risk our lives by being Christians, we just risk our “social status.”
Remember to pray for our persecuted brethren in China and other hostile areas around the world and be thankful you live in the land of the free.
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Funko Pop Collector. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.