January 15th, 2008 12:42 EST
Chinese Believers Targeted
The Open Doors` director for China summarized Christian persecution in China in 2007 by saying that most Chinese can`t practice their religion openly.
The Chinese Communist Party waged a secret campaign against unregistered house churches from mid-June until the end of November. The government police investigated "the content of sermons, personal history of house church evangelists and the sources of their funds." On November 18 authorities detained 40 church leaders from China Gospel Fellowship in Xiancheng County in Henan Province.
The director said many house church Christians are told they must stop their meetings. Some are fined. Some pastors are also locked up for a few days or sent to labor camps. For Christians living in the countryside, it often is difficult to obtain study Bibles and Christian books or attend a Bible school.
The Chinese government is carefully crafting an image of religious tolerance leading up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, which start August 8. But the facts tell a different story.
Pastor Zhang Rongliang sits in a prison cell despite a judge`s previous statement that "insufficient evidence and ambiguous facts" surrounded his case, and that Zhang would be judged fairly. Zhang was sentenced in July 2006 to seven and a half years in prison for "attaining a passport through cheating" and "illegal border crossing."
Zhang, leader of the China for Christ house church movement, was arrested without a charge on December 1, 2004. He had been detained five times before and had already spent a total of 12 years in prison. Zhang, who has major health problems, still has preached the gospel in prison and brought many to the Lord.
As a result of the continued persecution in China, Open Doors USA has launched a countdown to the Summer Olympics called "One Minute/One Year/One Country." The goal of the campaign is to unite believers in the West to pray for their persecuted Chinese brothers and sisters in faith. Already over 1,300 prayer warriors have signed up for the campaign, which began last fall. Believers who participate in the campaign will receive a monthly prayer email calendar and also a daily email brief. Both will include updated information on China and specific prayer requests.
Christians are asked to pray for at least one minute each day; if possible at 8 p.m. Beijing time. To sign up for the campaign, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org or www.opendoorsusa.org/content/view/156.
"The Beijing Olympics start August 8; so we need to blanket Chinese believers right now with our prayers," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller.
"There are reports of increased pressure on house church leaders, raids and arrests and the expulsion of foreign missionaries. The raids and arrests are expected to increase as the start of the Olympics draws closer. China wants to weed out the potential `troublemakers` and put its best foot forward to the world. And Christians are caught in the crossfire. Prayer is our No. 1 weapon."
An estimated 200 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with another 200 to 400 million facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world`s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email email@example.com