Letters From China

Monday, March 21, 2005

Correspondence reveals personal trials, challenges facing house church Christians.
Special to Compass Direct

LOS ANGELES, March 18 (Compass)


“In July [2004] while the house church was having a Bible study, suddenly the police came in. The church warmly welcomed them and led them to the best seats. The police heard nothing wrong, but they said someone had made an accusation against us. So they chose 10 brothers and took them away and said if we paid a fine within 24 hours they would be released. If not, they would be sent to the county police station.

“The church united in prayer and decided not to pay the fine. So the 10 Christians were sent to the county jail and were locked up with criminals. When we visited them they were full of joy because some of the prisoners had repented and believed in Jesus. They were finally released just in time to attend the monthly fellowship meeting and share joyfully their experiences.

“Then we had young people coming from many places to prepare for a three-day camp. The first evening, the village cadre [political leader], who was drunk, came and made trouble. He cursed and hit some of the young people and the police came and arrested some of them. They confiscated some church property and agricultural machinery. The young people were released the second day but the leaders were imprisoned and fined. Some were sent to the county jail and locked up. The police forced the older Christians to hand over money and they were released.

“The church is appealing to higher authorities about this government persecution. Please pray that the church will have the right attitude and that the gospel will be proclaimed in the courts and that Jesus will have the glory!”

-- Letter from Mr. Wang, dated November 9, 2004.


“The provinces in the interior of China are poor in resources but the Christians are full of faith and very zealous. Take my own church, for example. Although lacking in resources and meeting in a believer’s home, all the Christians are very willing to give hospitality to brethren from outside the area at the annual fellowship meeting.

“However, our greatest weakness is that some have lost their first love and others have gone off in search of work, seduced by materialism. Others have been led astray by heresy. We also suffer persecution from the government. The larger meetings cannot conduct activities freely; the local government interferes, so some believers have been seriously affected in their faith.”

-- Letter from house church believer, dated December 2004.


“The church where I am now serving has grown from just a handful to over 100 in just a few months. Of course, we are a house church. More and more people are leaving the churches controlled by the Three Self Patriotic Movement [TSPM or government-approved church].

“The TSPM churches are beginning to preach that justification by faith should be watered down. They even say that Lei Feng [a Maoist army hero] and Marx himself will be saved and with all their power propagate the new ‘theological reconstruction’ ideology.

“The top leadership of the TSPM have even talked about getting rid of the book of Revelation, but all this is in God’s hands. Without His permission nothing can happen to us.

“It seems God is sorting out the sheep from the goats. The mainland Chinese house churches are growing rapidly at an unstoppable speed. The numbers involved are amazing!

“The TSPM churches claim to have people who are theologically educated. But when these students graduate they are sent to TSPM churches to serve the TSPM. They have to obey their leaders. Many more people in the house churches need training; that’s why we are studying the five books of Moses. Please send us some materials.”

-- Letter from Mr. Li, dated 2004.


“We started a house church to meet together to worship God. At the beginning it was not that the government forbade us to meet; rather, the problem was with the Three Self Patriotic Movement church.

“The number of house church people increased daily, but there were not many who attended the TSPM church ... So the TSPM pastor went to the government and got them to close down all the house church meetings and force the house church Christians to join the Three Self Church. That pastor also notified all the church leaders to make it known that Christians were not allowed to watch Christian videos, so now they are banned in all the churches.

“It’s not that we never attend the Three Self Church -- sometimes we do go to see brothers and sisters. But some of them talk during the service, while others sleep. The preachers don’t practice what they preach.

“We don’t allow this kind of preaching in our house churches. We practice what we preach. We want to be examples of good evangelists to the believers. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He gave Himself out of His great love for us. We preachers should also sacrifice ourselves to save souls.

“Why doesn’t that pastor ask the government to arrest the cultists? There are many kinds ... This pastor persecutes us but we are unafraid. God gives us not a spirit of fear but courage and a sound mind.

“We meet in eight house churches and lots of cell-groups. Every day at noon we pray and read the Scriptures ... At home we often listen to Bible training on the gospel radio programs. Through Bible reading we understand God’s will; then we go out and put it into practice. We preach the gospel, visit the sick and give money to the poor, as well as care for widows and orphans. We want to share the gospel with them.

“In all the 13 years I have been a Christian I never heard our TSPM church leaders preach the gospel or lead people to Christ. Nor did they ever visit the sick. What use is that?”

-- Letter from Mr. Gao, dated September 9, 2004


“The Lord has led me to do children’s Sunday school work. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I have given myself entirely to the Lord. Wherever He leads, I will follow. There are difficulties. It is more dangerous to do children’s work than work with adults. If you get arrested you are immediately sentenced to jail. However, I believe that through God’s direction, with the help of other teachers and Christians and through prayer the Lord’s will can be made clearer to me. Also, I believe that He will revive children’s and young people’s work in China. Even though I still do not understand God’s ultimate purpose for me I have given myself to Him and will not look back.”

-- Letter from a Bible student, dated December 2004


“Please pray especially for our tribal churches in Yunnan. In our locality we are unable to meet openly and we often suffer persecution. Many brothers and sisters in our church have a very hazy understanding of Bible truth. Very few are educated. Some even have difficulty reading the Bible. Please pray earnestly for our church.”

-- Letter dated December 2004.


“We meet in a Christian brother’s home. Recently people from the TSPM came, and told us we had to join their movement. But our church consists of middle-aged and elderly men and women and there is not the slightest benefit for us in joining the Three Self. Moreover, everybody has a bad feeling about the Three Self. But they have said they will come and forcibly interfere in our church. When our church members heard this they all felt very worried. We fear our church will not be able to continue.”

-- Letter dated December 2004