Now is always the time to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted all around the world. Here at Eagle Rising we have tried to keep you up to date on the constant threat faced by our fellow believers in the Muslim world – but that is not the only place where they are being persecuted.
During the Cold War, the communist Soviet Union worked aggressively to stamp out the Christian faith within its borders. The USSR spread the gospel of hate, repression and persecution wherever it could, attempting to snuff out Christianity and replace it with strict state-favored atheism. China, Cambodia, Vietnam and North Korea all joined the USSR in their state sanctioned persecution of the church, and while the persecution has grown less severe in all but North Korea, it still exists.
China has tried to have things both ways — continuing to crack down on the church, while telling the world that its people were free to worship as they see fit. While times may not be as difficult as they were under Mao Zedong, the majority of Christians in China still meet in illegal “underground” churches because of the still rampant government persecution.
Chinese oppression of Christians is making news all over the world today because of a very public protest being orchestrated by believers in the coastal city of Wenzhou. Thousands of believers in Wenzhou, gathering together by the hundreds, have risen up to protect a local church from being destroyed by their government.
In an episode that underlines the fierce and long-standing friction between China’s officially atheist Communist Party and its rapidly growing Christian congregation, Bible-carrying believers this week flocked to the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou hoping to protect it from the bulldozers.
Their 24-hour guard began earlier this week when a demolition notice was plastered onto the newly-constructed church which worshippers say cost around 30 million yuan (£2.91 million) and almost six years to build.
Officials claimed the church had been built illegally and used red paint to daub the words: “Demolish” and “Illegal construction” onto its towering facade.
The threat triggered a furious reaction in Wenzhou, a booming port city known for its vibrant Christian community, said to be China’s largest.
Hundreds of people, including elderly and in some cases disabled women, have now occupied the church to prevent demolition teams moving in…
Wenzhou’s underground “house” churches – those unwilling to comply with Communist Party rules – have long been subjected to sporadic crackdowns, such as one in 2000 that saw hundreds of churches and temples demolished across Zhejiang province…
Yang Zhumei, 74, said she had pleaded with officials to leave her church alone.
“I held their hands and said, “Comrades, don’t take down our cross. I can give you my head instead.”
“Even if they take my head, I can still find happiness with God,” she shouted.
Li Jingliu, who lost her right arm to an industrial accident and has been a church member for 34 years, said she would not allow her place of worship to be damaged. “I will guard the church until the very end, without fearing hardship or death,” she said. “God will punish those who try to take down the cross.”
While the demolishing of a building may seem a small thing to outside observers, the church building is more than symbolic. It marks the opportunity of believers to gather together in fellowship and brotherhood – which is exactly what worries the Chinese government. Wenzhou is the center of Chinese Christianity, making this church one of the most important in the country. The Chinese government is looking to remind Christians all over the country who is in charge and who will decide when and where the people can worship.
We stand with our brother and sisters in China against the oppression of the Chinese government (and any government that would not allow their people to worship freely). We pray with them for a peaceful conclusion that sees them with a greater platform to preach the Gospel of Christ crucified, and a greater reputation amongst their fellow citizens.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com