Letters from Chinese Christians Detail Local Problems and Persecution
"Here we only have one registered church, which is packed out with people standing in the courtyard. However, since the church was opened, none of the accounts listing all the believers' donations have ever been made public to them. The pastor has dismissed several Christians who originally were responsible for the finances. He also hands over the donations to the Religious Affairs Bureau to use. Not long ago, several elderly believers formed a church, but the Three Self pastor asked the Religious Affairs Bureau not to grant them a license and called the police to come and arrest them. Can such a church be blessed by God? How can it cause the gospel to spread?"
-- Letter from a Christian in Anhui dated March 29, 2000
"A fearful tragedy has occurred in my home village. Two women who were originally Christians joined the 'Lightning from the East' cult (which preaches that Christ has already returned to China as a woman). Their elder brother's home was still a Christian meeting point. The two were encouraged by the cult to infiltrate it and tried to persuade him to join the cult, but he refused. So one day as he went about his business, they arranged for cult members to beat him up, and he was severely injured. They seemed even to want him beaten to death. After this the church was in an even more desperate state, and many believers have not dared attend meetings. Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. They upset normal church meetings and some of their members' conduct is unbelievably cruel. If they discover that some members want to leave the cult, they even cut off their ears or scratch out their eyes in punishment. The harvest is ready to be reaped but is in danger of being trampled into the mud. Every Christian bears a very heavy responsibility. Gospel radio, tapes and Christian books are all good methods of outreach but China lacks pastors. We need Christian soldiers to fight the good fight -- evangelists like Peter and Paul who will snatch souls directly from the hands of Satan."
-- Letter from Mr. Wang, March 10, 2000
"The greatest problem facing the church is that the elders are at loggerheads with the heads of the municipal Three Self Patriotic Committee and the Christian Council. In this struggle, neither side will give way. It has even been taken to the city Communist Party committee so that the municipal government can solve the problem. They are struggling for power and to get money using every means available. It makes us lose heart. Here in Qitaihe City there are nearly 100,000 believers, but we have only three elders. One is more than 80 years old and cannot leave his home to preach. Another is in his seventies and sick so he cannot minister. That leaves a 50-year-old who works in a hospital. Neither the sacrament of baptism nor the Lord's Supper can be properly administered here in Qitaihe. So we have to go up to the provincial level to invite pastors here. We also have 15 teachers, but they are under great pressure, and they have to get permission every time they go out to minister. In the last few days, the church in X County (about 30 kilometers from here) held a Bible-training class. Some of our friends went to attend it, but when the Three Self and the Christian Council found out, they were roundly criticized on their return for breaking the regulations. There is so much on my heart I want to share. Please pray for us."
-- Letter from Qitaihe City in northeast China dated August 28, 2000
"On April 16, 2000, the Christians in X rural district of Taihe county were in the middle of their worship service when the cadre from the rural district responsible for religious affairs marched in and roundly denounced them. He confiscated all the Bibles and hymnbooks belonging to more than 30 believers and extorted 100 RMB from them without clearly explaining the reason or issuing a receipt. Then he ordered them not to meet. This district originally had 200-300 people meeting, but due to the disruption caused by the New Testament Church cult, they all fell away. But in God's mercy, one year later part of the believers again met. The leaders and police of this rural district have demanded a list of baptized believers many times to send to the county United Front Work Department of the Communist Party and have all along refused us registration. We hold they have seriously offended the right to freedom of religious belief granted by the constitution and also seriously transgressed the Jiangxi provincial regulations which state that no organization or person can interfere with the normal meetings of believers. After this incident, the Christians went to the county United Front Work Department to clarify the situation, but so far it has not been resolved or the meeting restored. Please pray."
-- Letter from Brother K in Taihe county
"I have been a Christian for five years through evangelists sent from Zhejiang province. They preached the pure gospel. The church had over 30 members, but in 1995, I was persecuted and all my Christian books were confiscated. After two days, because I had good 'connections,' I was released. The church fell away, but I helped restore them. Heresies and cults have also attacked our church. There is a couple here who pretend to believe but the wife still worships idols and practices magic and gives out false prophecies. One evening she said she was God and asked seven sisters to kneel down before her and would not let them get up for eight hours. Please pray God will revive our church."
-- Letter from Mr. Liang dated March 3, 2000
"My church left the Three Self (state church) in 1991 and meets in various homes. Now 10 years have passed, and there are some people in the churches that are politically organized (i.e. Three Self) who have a clearer understanding of doctrine, so they now want to join a church that is not politically organized. But we are still meeting in homes, so we are wary of them and do not have much to do with them."
-- Letter from Yunnan dated August 28, 2000
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